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Yoreh De'ah 148:1 says, in part:

שְׁלשָׁה יָמִים לִפְנֵי חַגָּם שֶׁל גּוֹיִים עוֹבְדֵי אֱלִילִים אָסוּר לִקַּח מֵהֶם וְלִמְכֹּר לָהֶם דָּבָר הַמִּתְקַיֵּם. וּמֻתָּר לִמְכֹּר לָהֶם דָּבָר שֶׁאֵינוֹ מִתְקַיֵּם עַד יוֹם חַגָּם, כְּגוֹן יְרָקוֹת וְתַבְשִׁיל.

R' Pesach Feldman translates:

Three days before the festival of idolaters, one may not buy from them, or sell to them something that lasts. One may sell something that will not last until the day of their festival, such as vegetables or a cooked food.

(To learn about the reasoning behind the law, see here.)

But there's a catch. Even though this law is in Yoreh De'ah, it's neither widely publicized nor widely talked about. In fact, I'd never even heard of the law's existence until I was in my thirties, when I saw a certain comment by Mi Yodeya moderator Double AA.

In general, is the above law still applicable in America nowadays?

See also this related question.

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R' Lebovitz's words

In a 5775 issue of Halachically Speaking, R' Moishe Dovid Lebovitz of Kof-K Kosher Supervision writes:

Practically speaking, we do business with non-Jews every business day of the year, even on their holidays. Many heterim are offered for this practice. [See: R' Ari Wasserman. Higyonei Haparsha: Shemos. Pages 276-278.]

Some stricter views

R' Lebovitz was citing R' Ari Wasserman (who teaches at Aish Gesher). But, when you look at his actual words, R' Wasserman also cites some stricter opinions. See the first two paragraphs of page 7 of this PDF.

(His website's copyright policies are strict, and I haven't emailed to request an exception. In case the link breaks, I've used the Wayback Machine's "Save Page Now" tool to save copies here.)

R' Wasserman also offers alternatives to his above PDF: a Hebrew version and an audio file.

In practice

In the end, ask your rabbi.

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While the Mishna does speak about avoiding interactions with pagans three days before their festival, the Gemara (7b) already quotes Shmuel as saying that counties outside Israel it is only forbidden on the day of the festival itself. The Shulchan Aruch rules accordingly (Y.D. 148, 4).

There are a number of Gemaras and comments of the Rishonim that indicate that the entire law no longer applies today, certainly not in America, but I think it will suffice to simply quote the Shulchan Aruch itself.

At the end of siman 148 (se'if 12) the Mechaber writes (based on the writings of Rishonim), “There are those that say that all these matters were said in that time (i.e. Talmudic times), however, nowadays, they are not knowledgeable in the depths of paganism. Therefore, it is permitted to do business with them (even) on their festival day, and to lend to them and all other matters.” The Shulchan Aruch does not quote a dissenting opinion, neither do the Rema, Shach, Taz or other poskim. Therefore, with all due respect to the people cited above, I really do not see any mystery here. It is quite clear that the prohibition no longer applies.

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  • Do you mean to conclude "It is quite clear the prohibition no longer applies in places where they are not knowledgeable in the depths of paganism"? I don't understand how you could conclude anything else. It happens that your premises are just inaccurate, as the Rama clearly says against you that it is only permitted because of איבה and if you can avoid איבה you should abide by the prohibition. – Double AA Dec 11 '19 at 23:25
  • Notably, this is all just about the Rabbinic prohibition not to do business with a idol worshiper lest they come to serve their gods out of thanks. The biblical prohibition against causing an idol worshiper to serve their gods still applies in full force in all times and places, and would prohibit business etc. if their is real direct causation that wouldn't have happened otherwise. – Double AA Dec 11 '19 at 23:27
  • No, I meant what I wrote. The Rema you referred to is talking about a Jew actually joining in with non-Jews in their festival! which would only be permitted because of eivah. – Alter Bochur Dec 12 '19 at 0:08
  • What's the difference? – Double AA Dec 12 '19 at 0:09
  • Is "pagan" the correct word here? My understanding is that pagans are those religions that don't share the same deity. The beliefs of Christians and Muslims might be considered wrong or perverted, but by worshipping the god of Abraham, they aren't considered "pagan". – Ray Butterworth Dec 12 '19 at 0:59

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