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Offerings to idols
Dear teachers,

Part II Topic 9:3 (page 225) in "The Divine Code" Vol I. states,
It is permitted to benefit from an offering brought to a mountain or a sea, or any other natural entity that is attached to the earth, and the offered item does not become forbidden...

What is the ruling of an offering brought to a cloud?
Rabbi Moshe Weiner, author of "The Divine Code," sent the following answer to this question:

Clouds, the sun, the moon, and the planets and stars are all examples of natural objects. Therefore the ruling for those is the same as written in the book regarding a mountain or a sea (p.225):

"Any natural object (such as a mountain, hill, tree or animal) that was worshiped as a deity, but which was not altered by the worshiper through an act of the idol worship, does not become forbidden for benefit."

The natural object worshipped, then, does not become forbidden.

But what of the item offered to it?
Part II Topic 9:3 (p.225), the middle section, specifies that an offering made to any natural entity that is attached to the earth is in fact permitted for benefit.

Does attached to the earth here mean actually attached to the earth? or does it extend to a cloud?

Thank you.
The intention of the book there was to give examples of naturally occurring entities that have not been moved by a person. The cited precept extends to offerings made to natural entities such as clouds, the sun, the moon, and the planets and stars. (There were some Rabbinical authorities who were more strict who said that even that type of offering should be considered forbidden for benefit, but it's likely that they only intended that in regard to Jews. So Gentiles can rely on the main authorities, including the Shulchan Aruch, who taught that the benefit is permitted.)
Thank you very much.

If I may,
I will continue this thread and ask what the resolution is between Part II Topics 9:5 and 9:11 of "The Divine Code," Volume 1. Perhaps the matter is readily apparent.

Topic 9:5 says that meat or wine is only forbidden for benefit after it has actually been offered, not merely set aside as an intended offering. This is even if it was brought into the temple of the idol. (And Topic 9:12 at the end affirms that there is indeed no process of sanctification for idolatry.)

Topic 9:11 says that any item that is forbidden when offered to an idol is, when found inside a house of idol worship (or the further criterias stated there), forbidden for use.

Rather than speculate as to the answer, I stop here.
I can understand your confusion about the difference between these two cases, because some of the information wasn't stated explicitly.

Topic 9:5 is talking about the situation in which the item was brought into the idol's temple, and it's continuously known through reliable observation that the item was never offered to the idol while it was there in the temple. Then it's known that it never became an offering, and it remains permitted to be used for personal benefit.

Topic 9:11 is talking about the situation in which a person entered the idol's temple, and found the item sitting there unattended. Then it's not known whether the item was ever offered to the idol or not. In that case it's forbidden to benefit from the item, because of the doubt. Possibly it was offered to the idol, so it must be treated as forbidden, to avoid the possibility of transgression.

The ruling in Part II, Topic 3:25 (pp. 166-167) in "The Divine Code" vol. I and note 105 there, regarding one who sings before an idol, is unclear to me: and your help is greatly appreciated.

Thank you very much.
In topic 3:4 (pp. 152-153) of that section of "The Divine Code," it explains that "one who does any one of these four special services [bowing down, slaughtering, burning incense, or pouring a libation] for any idol, even if this is not its traditional manner of service, is liable..."

So slaughtering an animal as an offering/sacrifice to any idol makes one liable for the sin of idol worship (even if that's not the traditional way of serving the idol), because that is one of the 4 special services that were performed to serve G-d in His Holy Temple in Jerusalem.

Now in order to be considered a valid offering in the Temple, the slaughtering of the sacrifices by the Kohen priests had to be accompanied by the Levites with their singing (which proves that it was a truly spiritual service, beyond just the physical act of the slaughtering and sacrificial offering of the animal).

So a question arises as to whether the singing, as a service to G-d, was also a form of worship that was commanded to be exculsively for G-d Himself (the singing in and of itself, or perhaps considered as part of the service of sacrificing). If so, then a person would be liable for worshipping an idol by singing before it, just as if the person slaughtered an animal or poured a libation or burned incense as an offering before an idol, or bowed down and prostrated himself to it.

In the footnote, Rabbi Weiner quotes two Rabbinical authorities who said that singing before an idol (in the service of the idol) is in that special category, but he explains that it is a minority opinion. So the ruling is that there is liability for this only if it's the customary way of serving that particular idol.
Quote:Question: "The Divine Code" Part 2, Chap. 3, #10 says, "The same (liability) applies for one who burns incense or pours a libation - any amount makes one liable, for there is no set amount for the transgression of idol worship." I thought to ask a couple of questions please. May one burn incense for purpose of 'cleansing' air or may I burn a stick of incense at my desk while I study? If incense is made by those that follow Eastern sects should it be nullified & then used?

If you mean burning incense practical purposes like getting rid of odors, or putting a pleasant smell in the air, or for relaxation, etc., that's fine.

In "The Divine Code," see footnote 280, p. 227, and Editor's note on p. 234. Incense does not become forbidden to benefit from until it is burned as a service or offering to an idol. So unburned incense is permitted to benefit from (e.g. by burning and smelling it), even if idolaters had previously set it down before their idol.

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