Do not imitate idolaters in customs and clothing

The Literal Commandment

Moreover, you shall not follow the customs of the nation which I will drive out before you, for they did all these things, and therefore I have abhorred them. (Leviticus 20:23)

 

The literal commandment is that we should not follow the customs of the nation which G-d drove out of the Land before the Israelites.

 

Messiah Says

Messiah implicitly affirmed this commandment when He spoke about the Law:

"Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish but to fulfill. For truly I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or stroke shall pass from the Law until all is accomplished. Whoever then annuls one of the least of these commandments, and teaches others to do the same, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever keeps and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. (Matthew 5:17-19)

 

Pictures of Messiah

The apostle Paul commands the believers in the city of Corinth:

Do not be bound together with unbelievers; for what partnership have righteousness and lawlessness, or what fellowship has light with darkness? Or what harmony has Christ with Belial, or what has a believer in common with an unbeliever? Or what agreement has the temple of God with idols? (2 Corinthians 6:14-16)

 

If we know, love, and worship the G-d of Israel, the G-d of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, the G-d who is Truth then how can we have any partnership whether in customs or clothing with that which is utterly false?

By imitating the customs or attire of idolaters, we associate ourselves with them and the deception they embrace. We invite their idolatry into our lives (whether to a small or great degree) and prevent ourselves from following fully in the footsteps of the Messiah who declared Himself to be "the way, and the truth, and the life". (John 14:6)

These commandments prohibiting idolatry picture Messiah by pointing to idols and telling us He is not like them and, as His disciples, neither should we be like them.

 

How Messiah Fulfilled

Messiah fulfilled this commandment by not imitating idolaters in custom or clothing.

 

Traditional Observance

Once again, the Sefer Hachinuch offers significant insight into the traditional understanding of this commandment:

The prohibition against following customs and ways of the Amorites-

Not to follow the customs of the Amorites, and equally the customs of the heathen- for it is stated, And you shall not walk in the customs of the nation which I am casting out before you (Leviticus 20:23); and the same law holds for all other nations, because the reason is that they turn away from following the Eternal Lord and worship idols.

The substance of the precept is that we should not behave like them in our way of dress and our affairs. As it was taught in the Midrash Sifra: "neither shall you walk in their customs" (Leviticus 18:3) - that you should not follow their practices in matters that are established for them, such as theaters, circuses, and amphitheater spectacles. These are all forms of sport and entertainment that they enact in their mass gatherings, when they assemble to commit lunatic acts, immorality, and idol-worship.1

 

This section goes on to describe certain hair styles and types of clothing as examples.

A passage from the writings of the prophet Zephaniah is also brought to light. In speaking about the end times when G-d removes "all things from the face of the earth" (Zeph 1:2) the prophet quotes G-d as saying:

Then it will come about on the day of the LORD'S sacrifice That I will punish the princes, the king's sons And all who clothe themselves with foreign garments. (Zephaniah 1:8)

 

 

Other Notes

We are able to fulfill this commandment today and should not imitate idolaters in customs or clothing.

 

This commandment is reiterated in Deuteronomy 12:

When the LORD your God cuts off before you the nations which you are going in to dispossess, and you dispossess them and dwell in their land, beware that you are not ensnared to follow them, after they are destroyed before you, and that you do not inquire after their gods, saying, 'How do these nations serve their gods, that I also may do likewise?' (Deuteronomy 12:29-30)

 

 

<><

 

Footnotes

1. Charles Wengrove, trans., Sefer HaChinuch (Jerusalem:Feldheim Publishers, 1984), vol 3, p163 [back]

Commandment Details

  • Mishneh Torah # 59
  • Mishneh Torah Book # 1
  • Mishneh Torah Book Knowledge
  • Mishneh Torah Category 4- Idolatry and Gentile Customs
  • Reference Leviticus 20:23
  • Scripture Book Leviticus
  • Chapter 20
  • Verse 23
  • English Moreover, you shall not follow the customs of the nation which I will drive out before you, for they did all these things, and therefore I have abhorred them.
  • Hebrew כג וְלֹא תֵלְכוּ בְּחֻקֹּת הַגּוֹי, אֲשֶׁר-אֲנִי מְשַׁלֵּחַ מִפְּנֵיכֶם: כִּי אֶת-כָּל-אֵלֶּה עָשׂוּ, וָאָקֻץ בָּם.
  • Greek 23 καὶ οὐχὶ πορεύεσθε τοῖς νομίμοις τῶν ἐθνῶν, οὓς ἐξαποστέλλω ἀφ᾿ ὑμῶν· ὅτι ταῦτα πάντα ἐποίησαν, καὶ ἐβδελυξάμην αὐτούς.
  • Parashah 30- Kedoshim
  • Positive/Negative Negative
  • Sefer Hachinuch # 262
  • Sef. Hach. Command The prohibition against following customs and ways of the Amorites
  • Category Idolatry
  • We can fullfill today Yes

Custom Search

    • Acquisition (18)
    • Holiness (70)
    • Injuries (36)
    • Judges (74)
    • Judgments (23)
    • Knowledge (75)
    • Love (11)
    • Promises (25)
    • Ritual Purity (20)
    • Sacrifices (39)
    • Seeds (67)
    • Service (103)
    • Times (35)
    • Women (17)
    Close 
    • 1- The Foundations of Torah (10)
    • 10- Blessings (1)
    • 11- Circumcision (1)
    • 12- Shabbat (5)
    • 13- Rest on the Tenth of Tishri (4)
    • 14- Rest on Holidays (12)
    • 15- Leaven and Unleavened Bread (8)
    • 16- Shofar, Sukkah, and Lulav (3)
    • 17- Sheqels (1)
    • 18- Sanctification of Months (1)
    • 19- Fasts (1)
    • 2- Personal Development (11)
    • 20- Marriage (4)
    • 21- Divorce (2)
    • 22- Levirate Marriage and Release (3)
    • 23- Virgin Maiden (5)
    • 24- Woman Suspected of Adultery (3)
    • 25- Forbidden Sexual Relations (37)
    • 26- Forbidden Foods (28)
    • 27- Slaughter (5)
    • 28- Oaths (5)
    • 29- Vows (3)
    • 3- Torah Study (2)
    • 30- Nazirite (10)
    • 31- Appraisals and Devoted Property (7)
    • 32- Diverse Varieties (5)
    • 33- Gifts to the Poor (13)
    • 34- Heave Offerings (8)
    • 35- Tithes (1)
    • 36- Second Tithe and Fruit of the Fourth Year (9)
    • 37- First Fruits and Other Priestly Gifts Outside the Temple (9)
    • 38- The Sabbatical Year and the Jubilee (22)
    • 39- The Chosen House (6)
    • 4- Idolatry and Gentile Customs (51)
    • 40- The Vessels of the Temple and Those Who Serve in It (14)
    • 41- Entry into the Temple (15)
    • 42- Things Forbidden on the Altar (14)
    • 43- Sacrificial Procedures (23)
    • 44- Perpetual Offerings and Additional Offerings (19)
    • 45- Sacrifices Become Unfit (8)
    • 46- Service on Yom Kippur (1)
    • 47- Benefit from Consecrated Things (3)
    • 48- The Pesach Sacrifice (16)
    • 49- Pilgrimage Festival Sacrifice (6)
    • 5- Repentance (1)
    • 50- The Firstborn (5)
    • 51- Unintentional Sins (5)
    • 52- Those with Incomplete Atonement (4)
    • 53- Substitution for Consecrated Animals (3)
    • 54- Uncleanness from a Corpse (1)
    • 55- The Red Heifer (2)
    • 56- Uncleanness from Leprosy (8)
    • 57- Uncleanness of a Bed or Seat (4)
    • 58- Other Sources of Uncleanness (3)
    • 59- Uncleanness of Foods (1)
    • 6- Reciting the Shema (1)
    • 60- Ritual Baths (1)
    • 61- Injury to Property (4)
    • 62- Theft (8)
    • 63- Robbery and Lost Property (6)
    • 64- One Who Injured Person or Property (1)
    • 65- A Murderer and the Preservation of Life (17)
    • 66- Sales (5)
    • 67- Slaves (13)
    • 68- Hiring (7)
    • 69- Borrowed and Deposited Things (2)
    • 7- Prayer and Priestly Blessing (2)
    • 70- Creditor and Debtor (12)
    • 71- Claimant and Respondent (1)
    • 72- Inheritances (1)
    • 73- The Sanhedrin and the Penalties Under Their Jurisdiction (30)
    • 74- Testimony (8)
    • 75- Rebels (9)
    • 76- Mourning (4)
    • 77- Kings and Wars (23)
    • 8- Tefillin, Mezuzah, and Torah Scroll (5)
    • 9- Tzitzit (1)
    Close 
    • Deuteronomy (201)
    • Exodus (109)
    • Genesis (2)
    • Leviticus (243)
    • Numbers (58)
    Close 
    • 1- Bereshit (2)
    • 10- Miketz
    • 11- Vayigash
    • 12- Vayechi
    • 13- Shemot
    • 14- Va'eira
    • 15- Bo (21)
    • 16- B'shalach (1)
    • 17- Yitro (16)
    • 18- Mishpatim (51)
    • 19- Terumah (3)
    • 2- Noach (2)
    • 20- Tetzaveh (8)
    • 21- Ki Tisa (8)
    • 22- Vayakhel (1)
    • 23- Pekudei
    • 24- Vayikra (16)
    • 25- Tzav (17)
    • 26- Shemini (18)
    • 27- Tazria (7)
    • 28- Metzora (10)
    • 29- Acharei Mot (30)
    • 3- Lech-Lecha
    • 30- Kedoshim (51)
    • 31- Emor (56)
    • 32- B''har (24)
    • 33- B''chukotai (12)
    • 34- Bamidbar
    • 35- Naso (18)
    • 36- B'ha'alot'cha (5)
    • 37- Shelach (3)
    • 38- Korach (9)
    • 39- Chukat (3)
    • 4- Vayeira
    • 40- Balak
    • 41- Pinchas (11)
    • 42- Matot (2)
    • 43- Masei (7)
    • 44- Devarim (2)
    • 45- Va'etchanan (11)
    • 46- Ekev (7)
    • 47- Re'eh (55)
    • 48- Shoftim (42)
    • 49- Ki Tetze (74)
    • 5- Chayei Sarah
    • 50- Ki Tavo (6)
    • 51- Nitzavim
    • 52- Vayelech (3)
    • 53- Haazinu
    • 54- V'zot HaBerachah
    • 6- Toledot
    • 7- Vayetze
    • 8- Vayishlach (1)
    • 9- Vayeshev
    Close 
    • Negative (364)
    • Positive (249)
    Close 
    • Appointed Times (43)
    • Business (2)
    • Courts, Crimes, and Punishments (73)
    • Food (32)
    • Forbidden Mixtures (5)
    • Forbidden Sexual Relationships (26)
    • G-d (13)
    • Idolatry (40)
    • Levites & Priests (35)
    • Loans (12)
    • Love (9)
    • Marriage and Family (26)
    • Morality (11)
    • Nazirites (10)
    • Oaths (8)
    • Personal Appearance (7)
    • Prayer and Confession (5)
    • Prophecy (3)
    • Providing for the Poor (13)
    • Redemption of the Firstborn (4)
    • Ritual Purity and Impurity (20)
    • Sacrifices and Offerings (99)
    • Shemittah and Yovel (19)
    • Signs and Symbols (5)
    • Slaves and Servants (18)
    • Temple and Sacred Objects (21)
    • Terumah and Tithes (25)
    • The King (7)
    • Torah (5)
    • War and Battles (17)
    Close 
    • Maybe (7)
    • No (83)
    • Yes (523)
    Close