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Using objects that are not Jewish

Rabbi David SperlingShevat 4, 5781
37
Question
Shalom, I have rep separate questions that revolve around a similar thing, knowing when it’s ok or not ok to use an item or object that is not Jewish... The first example I have is using the herb sage in my home. I’ve heard that if you take a few sage sticks and light them together, and wave them around a room, the herbs help cleanse the air, and kind of get rid of negative or stale feeling/vibes in the room. I know for example the Zohar recommends in the diaspora, to burn the ball of Challa from harfrasha inside the house to cleanse it of Shedim, so I know there must be some Kabbalistic thoughts about negative energies, but is it ok to use these herbs? The second question is I wanted to buy a writing journal, and I learned that the cover, which I find so beautiful, was copied from an ancient book used by one of the French Kings of the past where he detailed what to do before Easter. May I buy a book like this if the cover was copied from a book used for this purpose? (The cover did not have any detectable/recognizable religious symbols such as a cross etc) So I guess it is three questions...is the first one ok, is the second one ok, and is there any helpful tip or guide to help us determine or understand better when a non Jewish item or object may be used (both for non mitzvah uses, such as normal uses around the house, and possibly mitzvah related....like what if I wanted to turn that notebook into a prayer book, as an example?) Thank you so much,
Answer
Shalom, Thank you for your questions. 1. You should refrain from any attempts to remove any negative feelings or vibes, as you put it. All these types of things - negative vibes, the shadiim you write about etc – are all beyond the understanding and reaches of people in our generations. Any references to them in our sources need to be understood in kabalistic terms, or metaphoric terms. In either case, a person should totally remove themselves from any involvement with any type of these things. This is true whether the source of the practice is Jewish, and all the more so if it comes from non Jewish sources, 2. If the picture itself does not contain any idol worship, nor bring idol worship to your mind when looking at it, it is allowed. 3. In general, items that are made for non-Jewish religious worship should be avoided. But items that are not connected to any foreign religion are allowed. Blessings.
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