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Background: There is a verse in the Christian scriptures (Luke 6:30) that, when read out of context, implies that a follower of osso ha’ish should give anything anyone asks for. I had heard an urban legend that anti-missionaries have used that against Jews for J——s types.

I was accosted by some Christian missionaries proselytizing in Midwood this morning and decided to try this prank. The fellow (not Jewish) said, “I’m not giving this to you to induce you to change religion; I’m giving this to you to obey the will of J——s.”

Now I have a $20 bill in my pocket, but may I spend it? Is this Takruvas Avodah Zarah?

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CYLOR.......... –  Seth J Aug 22 '12 at 16:50
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@SethJ, I most certainly will. –  J. C. Salomon Aug 22 '12 at 16:52
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Maybe they liked your initials... :) –  Dave Aug 22 '12 at 17:15
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I wonder if it would have been permissible to ask them for all of their missionary materials, and then deposit the stuff in the nearest dumpster? –  Dave Aug 22 '12 at 17:21
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I know better than to attempt an answer in the religious question: I'm way out of my depth! I had @Dave's suggestion in mind when writing my comment. In purely human terms, it seems unethical to waste such a gift. (I thoroughly enjoy the question. I hope it gets an answer. ;-) –  Jon Ericson Feb 14 '13 at 21:40

2 Answers 2

Takruvas Avodah Zarah it surely isn't - unless you're an idol. :-) Even if the money was set aside to be given to an idol, it would be OK. Source: Rambam in הלכות עבודה זרה פרק ז:כא

We had a case in the Mishna (Beitza 3:2) of a Rav who refused to accept a gift from a non-Jew. When asked why, he answered that it was to spite the non-Jew (and not because of Hilchot Shabbat, the subject under discussion there, IIRC.)

But otherwise there is no problem using a gift received from a non-Jew. We even accepted certain Korbanot from them. הלכות מעשה הקרבנות פרק ג

The closest related Halacha that I recall is the prohibition of doing business with idolaters around their Holidays. The reason being, that they go and thank their deities. See הלכות עבודה זרה פרק ט

As a general rule, there's a prohibition to cause others - even idolaters - to mention the name of their gods. הלכות עבודה זרה פרק ה

So while the money may be good, the "trick" caused another [unrelated?] prohibition, and therefore should/may not be repeated.

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None of the sources you quote seem to discuss giving the gift leShem (for the purpose of) Avoda Zara. Only gifts given by worshipers of Avoda Zara –  Double AA Feb 18 '13 at 17:43

Seems forbidden to me.

The Rambam lists 51 mitzvot (English) regarding Avoda Zara. Number 31 is "not to derive any benefit from anything used in service of an idol" (my translation). He elaborates in Laws of Avoda Zara 7:2 (English):

עבודה זרה עצמה, ומשמשיה, ותקרובת שלה, וכל הנעשה בשבילה--אסור בהנאה, שנאמר "ולא תביא תועבה אל ביתך" (דברים ז,כו). וכל הנהנה באחד מכל אלו, לוקה שתיים--אחת משום "ולא תביא תועבה אל ביתך", ואחת משום "ולא ידבק בידך מאומה, מן החרם" (דברים יג,יח).

As you see, Takrovet and Mishamsheha are two separate categories. While I agree that the money is definitely not Takrovet, they are giving you the money in order to follow the gospel which seems to be exactly what is meant by "used in service of A"Z."

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