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Rambam - Sefer HaMitzvos
As Divided for The Daily Learning Schedule

Negative Mitzvot 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 26, 28, 27, 29, 14, 8, 9, 7

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Introduction to Negative Mitzvot 16-21:

These prohibitions involve a "Maysit" - a person who encourages a fellow Jew to worship idols.

A Madiach tries to convince many fellow Jews to worship idols, while a Maysit tries to convince only a single individual.

HaShem gave us the Torah and Mitzvot as a guideline to live by. Nevertheless, we have been given free choice.

HaShem tells us that the Jew should follow the Mitzvot in the Torah.

However, every person is free to decide for him-or herself whether s-he will obey HaShem or not.

If a person chooses to worship idols, and then tries to convince others to follow him - he must be condemned by those who believe in the Torah.

Such a person is called a "Maysit," ("one who entices others"), for this individual is determined to urge his fellow Jews to worship false gods.

The person who the "Maysit" has tried to convince is called a "Musat".

Although we are commanded to love all fellow Jews, help them and have compassion for them, the "Maysit" must be ignored and excluded from our society.

Torah considers that such a person is endangering our very lives by trying to lead us astray.

Therefore, even if his life is in danger, it is forbidden to offer him any help.

Still, we must always hope and pray that the Maysit will repent and do Teshuvah.

Negative Mitzvah 16: You shall not urge another Jew to worship idols
Deuteronomy 13:12 "And you shall do no more wickedness like this among you"

We are forbidden to encourage a fellow Jew to worship idols. Someone who disobeys this commandment is called a "Maysit."

Negative Mitzvah 17: You shall not be attracted to a "Maysit"
Deuteronomy 13:9 "Do not be attracted to him"

The "Musat" (the individual that the "Maysit" is trying to attract to worship idols) is not allowed to be attracted to a Maysit or to show love for him.

Negative Mitzvah 18: You shall not listen to a "Maysit," nor soften your hatred of him
Deuteronomy 13:9 "Nor (shall you) listen to him"

The Musat must show hatred towards the Maysit.

The Torah wants us to understand that the only way to insure that the Maysit will not be able to convince others to worship idols is to show that we do not love him (Negative Mitzvah 17) and that we do, indeed, hate him.

Negative Mitzvah 19: You shall not pity a "Maysit"
Deuteronomy 13:9 "Nor shall your eye pity him"

The Musat is not allowed to have pity on a Maysit, nor is he allowed to help him in times of need, even if his life is in danger.

Negative Mitzvah 20: You shall not try to spare a "Maysit"
Deuteronomy 13:9 "Nor shall you spare (him)"

The Musat is not allowed to justify what the Maysit is trying to do.

Additionally, the Musat is forbidden to plead for the Maysit in court, even if he knows of something that can be said in favor of the Maysit.

Negative Mitzvah 21: You shall not conceal evidence that is harmful to the "Maysit
Deuteronomy 13:9 "Nor shall you cover up for him"

The Musat is not allowed to conceal any evidence about the Maysit which may lead to his conviction and punishment.

Negative Mitzvah 26: You shall not prophesy in the name of idols
Deuteronomy 18:20 "[The prophet]... that shall speak in the name of other gods"

HaShem has chosen prophets as teachers and guides for the Jewish people.

We must listen to a prophet because he is bringing us the words and message of HaShem.

A true prophet is loyal to the Torah.

This prohibition tells us that a person is not allowed to give prophecy in the name of false gods and idols.

If such a prophecy is given, then we immediately know that it is false, (see Negative Mitzvah 27 and 28).

Negative Mitzvah 28: You shall not listen to the prophecy of someone who prophesies in the name of an idol
Deuteronomy 13:4 "Do not listen to the words of that prophet"

This Negative Mitzvah cautions us not to heed the words of a false prophet.

The Torah itself has given us specific guidelines so that we may distinguish a true prophet from a false one.

If a person prophesies in the name of an idol we are commanded not to listen to him, nor demand any proof or signs from him.

Once the name of an idol or another G-d is mentioned, that, itself, proves to us that the individual is a false prophet.

Negative Mitzvah 27: You shall not utter a false prophecy
Deuteronomy 18:20 "But the prophet who shall presume to speak a word in My name which I have not commanded him to speak"

A person is forbidden to give a prophecy in the name of HaShem, when in fact, HaShem never instructed him to give such a prophecy.

Negative Mitzvah 29: You shall not fear (or show pity for) a false prophet
Deuteronomy 18:22 "You shall not fear him"

A person who announces that he is a prophet and then begins to declare his false prophecies can sometimes sound very convincing.

Just like others who lie, he is careful to say things that people want to hear, hoping they will believe that he is a true prophet and that what he says is true. Still there is no need to be afraid of his threats.

This Negative Mitzvah warns us not to fear the false prophet nor show any pity towards him.

Negative Mitzvah 14: You shall not swear in the name of false gods
Exodus 23:13 "Make no mention of the name of other gods"

At times, a person may be required to take an oath in court, in order to show that he is telling the truth.

When the oath is given, the person will choose to swear in the name of something that is holy and important to him. This helps to convince others that he is sincere.

We are not allowed to swear in the name of any idol or G-d.

If we are dealing with someone who believes in idols, we are forbidden to allow him to take an oath using the name of the idol.

Negative Mitzvah 8: "Ov" - A specific type of idol-worship
Leviticus 19:31 "Do not turn to mediums"

This type of idol-worship involves ceremonial acts carried out to try to communicate with the dead. We are forbidden to practice this kind of idol-worship.

Negative Mitzvah 9: "Yidde'oni" - A specific type of idol-worship
Leviticus 19:31 "Do not turn to oracles"

This involves ritual acts and meditation as a means of imaginary prophecy. We are forbidden to practice this kind of idol-worship.

Negative Mitzvah 7: "Molech" - A specific form of idol-worship
Leviticus 18:21 "Do not give any of your children to set them apart to Molech"

In ancient times, the worship of "Molech" - an Ammonite G-d - was very common.

The worship of Molech required that children be used for the ritual ceremony. We are forbidden to practice this specific type of idol-worship.

In the ancient Book of Formation [Sefer Yetzira], it is written, "If your heart races, return to One." There are times when you find yourself in a state of inspiration, uplifted from the banalities of everyday life. At this time you must "return to One" -- to the oneness of heaven and earth: You must resolve how this heavenly state will affect your earthly life.

From: Bringing Heaven Down to Earth by Tzvi Freeman -

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