According to Halacha, is it assur to own a gentile Shrunken head? The reason I ask is because my understanding is Halacha prohibits Jews from owning things made like the human form, even if not actual avodah zarah themselves.

1 Answer 1


I think it's not a good idea. THere seem to be four halachic issues: benefitting from a dead body, tumah, not performing the mitzvah of burial, and the one you mentioned.

Regarding benefitting from the dead, the Shulchan Aruch (YD 349, 1) rules that one may not benefit from a corpse, even of a non-Jew. However, looking at something for entertainment value is probably not considered benefit, because as a rule, "sound, sight and smell" are not considered benefit, except for some exceptions. Additionally, it would be an unusual form of benefit (שלא כדרך הנאתן) which would be permitted (ע' אגרות משה יו"ד חלק א ס' רכט).

As far as tumah, the Shulchan Aruch says that a kohein should avoid coming in contact with the dead body of a non-Jew by entering the same room (ohel) as the corpse. So if you have any friends who are kohanim, don't invite them over.

Also, by retaining the head, you are preventing the mitzva of burial from being fulfilled. The chasam sofer (shu"t OC 208) says this applies to the corpse of a non-Jew too. However, the yerushalmi (nazir 7, 1) says that burying a non-Jewish meis mitzva does not push away the issur tumah of a kohein or nazir, and the korban ha'eisa implies there is no mitzvah whatsoever. So this one may remain a matter of dispute. See Ramban (devarim 21, 22) implies that there's no mitzva of kevura on non-Jewish corpses, but if you live in Israel there's a prohibition of לא תטמא את אדמתך.

As far as retaining the human form, the chachmas adam (85, 2) is lenient regarding anything which nobody would worship. So there's certainly enough to rely on in that department.

  • 1
    why is this downvoted?
    – user32609
    Apr 18 at 21:53

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