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Are there sources that discuss whether Zoroastrianism is considered to be Avodah Zarah?

(Note: I am mainly interested in seeing Jewish sources that discuss Zoroastrianism. Answers that just discuss the tenets of Zoroastrianism without citing Jewish sources are off-topic.)

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The religion is not Judaism. Can you give any indication why you might think it is not Avoda Zara?? –  Double AA Jan 5 at 21:52
    
If you believe that somethings exists but don't worship it, is that avoda zarah? Because Maimonides' 1st principle states that Gd created and controls everything, which would include things that are or cause evil. So Its definitely Herecy as far as Judaism is concerned, not sure about avoda zarah since you don't seem to be worshiping the 'evil' that you believe didn't come from Gd. –  Baby Seal Jan 6 at 1:02
    
Just to be clear, you are asking whether Zoroastrianism is avoda zara FOR non-Jews, correct? –  WAF Jan 6 at 1:15
    
@WAF If its status as avoda zara depends on who is practicing it, I'd like to know. –  Malper Jan 6 at 2:59
    
It is definitely avoda zara for Jews. It is not avodas Hashem (which is defined by the Torah). QED –  WAF Jan 6 at 12:24

1 Answer 1

The rabbis of the Talmud were certainly aware of Zoroastianism. You'll find references to fringe groups who believed in "שתי רשויות", "two domains"; effectively, one deity in charge of good things, and a different one in charge of bad things. That's why the mishna says that a chazan whose text is "Modim, Modim" should be immediately removed: if you lived in the Middle East around the year 150, that was a good sign you believed in two different deities to thank.

Isaiah writes that God "fashions light and creates dark, makes peace and creates evil." This dichotomy features heavily in Zoroastrianism, and thus in response our prayer texts say instead: "makes peace and creates all", stressing that everything comes from one God.

Quite frankly I would assume that we would treat it as avoda zara, at least from our standpoint (e.g. something used in their worship would be prohibited from our benefit). It was very common in the times of the mishna yet we don't find the mishna offering any distinction between flavors of non-Jewish worship at the time; what's more the mishna Shabbos 2:5 speaks of heathens who won't let you have your shabbos candles lit; R' Ovadya miBartenura comments: "because of idolaters -- there were Persians who, on their religious holidays, would ban all flames unless lit within their temples." I'm told that was the Zoroastrians. (Or at least early ancestors.)

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