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This afternoon I found myself Davening in a classroom. It must have been a comparative cultures type of class, judging by the items that were hanging on the walls - posters and artwork and such.

As I usually do, I found a spot off to the side and towards the front, somewhat removed from any other people and with nobody in front of me, in order to minimize distraction. Unfortunately, I failed to notice, until I began bending into my first bow, that there was a poster on the wall in front of me, and I was bowing directly towards a full-color photo of a giant Buddha idol. I tried to turn away from it, only to realize that I was now facing and bowing toward a photo of some ancient Roman statue. I tried to orient myself between the two, and I closed my eyes for good measure, but what should I have done?

Do these photos actually pose a problem? Does it help to close your eyes? Should I have walked away (after having begun the 'Amidah!), or perhaps changed direction (away from east)? Does it help that my Kavanah was obviously on HaShem and not these pictures?

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Similar: judaism.stackexchange.com/q/35994 –  msh210 Mar 4 at 22:51
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1 Answer

up vote 7 down vote accepted

It is not permitted to daven in front of any picture or mirror, much less a picture of Avodah Zarah.

Article on this.

A quote from this article:

Bowing to any picture can raise the specter of avoda zara. Many poskim forbid images of animals in a shul (see above) particularly on the wall toward which people bow. It is also forbidden to daven facing a picture, a mirror, or even glass, if it reflects the image of the person davening. The concern is chashad of bowing to one's own reflection. While images that are not solid or embossed do not raise the specter of idols, intrinsically, one should not daven facing them. This applies specifically to cloth items, including the parochess, and to painted walls. The reasons for this are not merely due to the bowing aspect. The images can also distract one from concentrating properly on his tefillah.

What you should do is stop, move somewhere else and continue. I am not sure if you should also take three steps back again or not.

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