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Among the Ten Commandments is:

Thou shalt not make unto thee a graven image, nor any manner of likeness, of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth (Exodus 20:3, JPS)

According to history, paintings have also been converted to Idolatry for worship after some passage of time.

I have seen paintings in Jewish places. Are such paintings allowed?

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Note that @Ali added emphasis to highlight that it seems that no image nor its similitude in any manner is allowed. – Seth J Mar 6 '13 at 12:59
Similar: judaism.stackexchange.com/q/33965 – msh210 Dec 17 '13 at 3:35


Halacha 10:

It is forbidden to make decorative images of the human form alone. Therefore, it is forbidden to make human images with wood, cement, or stone. This [prohibition] applies when the image is protruding - for example, images and sculptures made in a hallway and the like. A person who makes such an image is [liable for] lashes.

In contrast, it is permitted to make human images that are engraved or painted - e.g., portraits, whether on wood or on stone - or that are part of a tapestry.

(I added the emphasis.)

Halacha 11:

The images of animals and other living beings - with the exception of men - and similarly, the images of trees, grasses, and the like may be fashioned. This applies even to images which protrude.

Note that there are some special cases for images of celestial objects (sun, moon, stars) and you should read the commentary at the bottom for details. Also there is a prohibition for the d'rakon animal (again, see the comments).

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"The images of animals and other living beings - with the exception of men - and similarly, the images of trees, grasses, and the like may be fashioned. This applies even to images which protrude." why single out men @Ariel and how this halacha was derived when the commandment is clearly prohibiting all images?? – knowit Mar 6 '13 at 9:53
@Ali No, it's clearly prohibiting all graven images. Are you even reading the words of the translation? – Double AA Mar 6 '13 at 10:23
nor any manner of likeness, ? – knowit Mar 6 '13 at 10:49
@Ali, are you really interested in learning our tradition on what this verse means, or are you seeking to undermine it? Remember that you come here asking about our tradition, not yours. – Seth J Mar 6 '13 at 13:02
"graven" was the technology of biblical times. 20th century technology was "written\drawned\sketched" and 21 technology is "typed" @DoubleAA – knowit Mar 6 '13 at 13:02

Found a nice article on this issue, it says the same as above, in case of men only protruding (3D) images are forbidden, according to the majority of poskim, and even in that case a part of them allows scupltures which only form a face, or a face e.g. without an eye. The majority says drawings are allowed. Thus, halacha is more lenienet as the genral opinion would suggest.


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Welcome to Mi Yodeya, and thanks for your informative summary and link. I hope you stick around and enjoy the site. You may also wish to change your username, unless you're partial to the number 4987. – msh210 Feb 23 '14 at 15:46

The Dvar Shmuel Siman 247 held that depicting angels in Torah books is distasteful and should not be done.


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