Torah Portion: Ki Sisa
Be vigilant lest you seal a covenant with the inhabitant of the land…. and he will invite you and you will eat from his slaughter (Shemos 34:12-15).
It is a negative commandment to not eat or drink from the offerings to idols, as it is written, Be vigilant lest you seal a covenant with the inhabitant of the land…. and he will invite you and you will eat from his slaughter (Shemos 34:12-15).
Among the roots of the commandment is the aim of distancing and banishing any vestige of idolatry and of anything related to it from our eyes and thoughts.
The laws of the mitzvah include: Our Sages of blessed memory taught that anything used as an offering to an idol is forbidden, even plain water and salt. That is, even though water and salt are insignificant items, so one might have thought that they cannot be considered an “offering” placed before the idol for honor — nevertheless even such items are forbidden.
And in order to distance the matter even more from us, our Sages also forbade any wine of a gentile, even if we do not know that it was used as part of an idolatrous practice. This is known as stam yeynam, “their ordinary wine.”
This mitzvah applies in all places and at all times, to both men and women. One who transgresses this and ate even the slightest quantity or drank even a drop of wine used as an actual libation to an idol, is liable for lashes. In this regard, the law here is different than with other types of prohibited food for which one receives lashes only after eating the size of an olive or drinks the volume of a revi’is. This is because in the case of idolatry the Torah warns that No part of the banned property may adhere to your hand (Devarim 13:18) — not even the slightest amount.