ABOUT CHRISTIAN RITES AND WORSHIP Since Christians are regarded by the Jews as idolators, all their forms of worship are idolatrous. Their priests are called priests of Baal; their temples are called houses of lies and idolatry, and everything they contain, such as chalices, statues and books, are regarded as made for the serving of idols; their prayers, both private and public, are sinful and offensive to God; and their festivals are called days of evil.
The Talmud speaks of priests, the ministers of Christian worship, as idolatrous and belonging to the god Baal. They are also called Komarim—Soothsayers; and also Galachim, the shaved, because they shave their heads, particularly the monks.
In Abhodah Zarah (14b) Toseph, it says:
“It is forbidden to sell the books of the prophets to the soothsayers, since they may use them for their evil worship in their idolatrous temples. Those who do so sin against the law which forbids us to place an obstacle in the way of a blind person. It is also forbidden to sell them to a Christian who is not shaved, for he is sure to give or sell them to one of them who is shaved.”
2. CHRISTIAN CHURCHES
A place of Christian worship is called (1) Beth Tiflah, a house of vanity and foolishness,(52) in place of Beth Tefilah, a house of prayer; (2) Beth Abhodha Zarah, a House of Idolatry; (3) Beth Hatturaph Schel Letsim, a house of Evil Laughter.(53)
(52) Wagenseil (in Sota, p. 497) says that Buxtorf, in translating the word Tiflah as foolishness or vanity, did not go far enough. For this name which is applied to a Christian Church really means a brothel or whorehouse.
(53) cf. Sepher Zerubbabel, Constantinople edit.
In Abhodah Zarah (78) the Perusch of Maimonides, it says:
“Be it known to you that it is beyond a doubt forbidden by law to pass through a Christian city in which there is a house of vanity, that is, a house of idolatry; much more to live therein. But we today, as punishment for our sins, are subject to them, and are forced to live in their countries, as it was foretold in Deuteronomy (IV, 28): And there ye shall serve gods, the work of men’s hands, of wood and stone.…Thus if it is allowed as predicted to pass around a Christian city, much more so must we pass around an idolatrous temple; nor is it allowed us even to look inside and above all to enter in.”
A Jew is forbidden not only to enter a Christian church, but even to go near it, except under certain circumstances.
In Iore Dea (142,10) it says:
“It is forbidden to stand in the shadow of a house of idolatry, whether from the inside or the outside, for a distance of four cubits from the front door. It is not forbidden, however, to stand under the shadow of the back of a church. Nor is the shadow forbidden us if the church stands in a place where formerly there was a public road, which was taken from the community and the house of idolatry built upon it. For the road is still there. But if the house of idolatry existed before the road, it is not permitted to pass before it. There are some who say that it is forbidden to pass there in any case.”
Neither is a Jew allowed to listen to, or admire the beautiful music of the churches. In Iore Dea (142, 15) it says:
“It is forbidden to listen to the music of idolatrous worship, and to examine the statues of their idols; for even by looking at them one can be influenced by the evil of idolatry. But one can look who does not intend to be so affected.”
Likewise a Jew is not allowed to have a house near a church; nor is he allowed to rebuild a house which has been destroyed in such a place. In Iore Dea (143,1) it says:
“If a house near an idolatrous temple belonging to the Akum falls down, it must not be rebuilt. A Jew must remove it a certain distance away if he wishes to rebuild it. But he must fill up the vacant space between his house and the church with bushes and rubbish so that the space will not be used to extend the idolatrous temple.”
Here may be added what a certain Rabbi Kelomimus said about a Christian church (in the book Nizzachon)(54) to the Emperor Henry III, who gave him permission to speak his opinion freely about the Basilica which he had recently built at Spires:
(54) cf. Wagensel, Sota, p. 498
(55) This is how he calls this famous church. The German word is Thum, and by a play on the word he calls it Tehom, which means abyss.
“After the Emperor Henry III, a very wicked man, had completed the building of that “Abyss,”(55) he sent for Rabbi Kelominus and said to him: ‘I want to ask you, how does this Basilica which I have built compare with the magnificence of Solomon’s Temple, about which so many volumes have been written?’ He replied: ‘My Lord, if you will permit me to speak freely, and if you will swear to me that you will let me go unharmed, I will tell you the truth about it.’ The Emperor answered: ‘I give you my word as a lover of the truth and as an Emperor, that no harm shall come to you.’ Then the Jew said: ‘If you gathered together all you have spent so far, and added to it all the silver and gold in your treasury, it would not suffice even to pay the workmen and craftsmen that Solomon employed; for it is written (Chron. II, ch 2): And Solomon told out threescore and ten thousand men to bear burdens, and fourscore thousand to hew in the mountains, and three thousand and six hundred to oversee them. Eight years were spent in the building of the Temple, much more than you have spent in building this Tehom [abyss]. And when Solomon had finished his Temple, see what the Scripture says about it: The priests could not stand to minister by reason of the cloud; for the glory of God had filled the House of the Lord (Chron. II, Ch. 5, 14). But if someone loaded an ass with putrid garbage and led it into this abyss of yours, no one would notice the difference!’ The Emperor Henry then replied: ‘Were it not that I have sworn to let you go unharmed, I would order your head cut off.’ “
Chalices used in the Sacrifice of the mass are spoken of as vessels in which filth is offered up to the idol. Moses Kozzensis, in Hilkoth Abhodah Zarah (10b) says:
“A Jew who buys Chalices of the Goi, which are broken and thrown away, it is not permitted to sell them again to them, because their priest of Baal will use them in the worship of the idol.”
The Talmud calls the books of the Christians Minim—heretical books—Siphre Debeth Abidan—Books of the House of Perdition.(56) The Talmud in particular speaks of the books of the Gospels. Thus in Schabbath (116a) Toseph:
“Rabbi Meir calls heretical books Aaven Gilaion (volumes of iniquity) because the call them Gospels.”
(56) This is what Jews call a Christian school
And Rabbi Jochanan calls these books Aavon Gilaion, evil books. The Schulchan Arukh, Crakow edition, gives this name as Aven Niktabh al Haggilaion—iniquity written in a book.
Buxtorf says: “In the Arukh there is a note Scheker Niktabh al Gilaion, which means, a lie written in a book.”
All the Talmudists agree that the books of the Christians should be destroyed. They differ only as to what should be done with the names of God contained in them. In Schabbath (116a) it says:
“The Glossaries of our own books and the books of the heretics are not to be saved from the flames, if they should catch fire on the Sabbath day. Rabbi Jose, however, says: ‘On festival days the divine names should be torn out of the books of the Christians and hidden away; what remains must be given to the flames.’ But Rabbi Tarphon says: ‘In order that I may be remembered by my children, if those books should ever fall into my hands I would burn them together with the divine names contained therein. For if one is chased by an assassin, or by a serpent, it would be better to take refuge in a pagan temple than in one of theirs; because the Christians knowingly resist the truth, whereas the pagans do so unknowingly.”
Christian prayers are called, not Tefillah, but Tiflah. They change the point and insert Iod, which makes it read to mean sin, foolishness and transgression.
6. CHRISTIAN FESTIVALS
Christian festivals, especially Sunday, are called Iom Ed—day of destruction, perdition, misfortune or calamity. They are also simply called Iom Notsri—Christian Days. The word Ed rightly interpreted means misfortune or calamity, as appears from the Gemarah and the Glossaries of Maimonides in Abhodah Zarah (2a):
“The word Edehem means the festivals of the Christians, since it is written (in Deuter. XXXII, 35): the day of their calamity.”
Maimonides also says in Abhodah Zarah (78c):
“The word Edehem means the foolishness of their festivals. It is the name for their despicable feast days which do not merit the name of Moedim, for they are really vain and evil.”
Baretenora also writes:
“The word Edehem is the name for their ignominious festivals and solemnities.”
The marginal notes of Tosephoth also give this name to Christian festivals. Thus in Abhodah Zarah (6a):
“The Day of Evil, that is the Christian Day, is forbidden to us as well as all their other feast days.”
Some Christian festivals are mentioned by name, such as the feast of Christmas and Easter. Moses Mikkozzi,(57) referring to the above text of Abhodah Zarah , says:
“Rabbi Sammuel declares, in the name of Solomon Iarchi, that in particular the festivals of Christmas and Easter, which are their principal evil days and the foundation of their religion, are forbidden to us.”
(57) cf. G. Edzard, ut supra.
Maimonides, in Hilkoth Akum (ch. IX) has the same:
“Sammuel repeats the words of Rabbi Sal. Iarchi which forbid us particularly to celebrate the feasts of Christmas and Easter, which are celebrated on account of him who was hanged.”
Furthermore, indications of the impiety of the Jews are to be found in the names which they give to these Christian festivals: For in place of using Tav in the word Nithal, they often write Tet and call it Nital for the Latin word Natalis, the Feast of the Nativity. They make it appear as if this word were from the root Natal which connotes extermination or destruction. Likewise they refuse to use the word Paschal (Pesach) for the Christian feast of Easter. The substitute Koph for Phe and insert the letter iod and call it Ketsach or Kesach. Both pronunciations have an evil meaning. Ketsach is from the root Katsah, meaning to amputate or cut off from, and Kesach is from the root Kesa, meaning wood or a gallows. This is done because the feast of Easter is celebrated by Christians in memory of Christ—the one who was hanged—who was put to death and who rose again from the dead.