Worship of foreign deities, one of the three cardinal sins.

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25
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11answers
5k views

Is Christianity Avodah Zara?

It is commonly accepted that Islam is not Avodah Zarah (idolatry) since Islam has a clear monotheistic theology with a belief in Allah that parallels our view of "kail" or Hashem. It is even ...
6
votes
1answer
283 views

How does Judaism regard the different denominations of Christianity vis-a-vis Avoda Zara?

There's been lots of talk about whether Christianity is Avodah Zara. Are there any distinctions between denominations, say which ones have more statues?
8
votes
2answers
351 views

Are Jews permitted to martyr themselves?

Are Jews permitted to martyr themselves? For example, if it is a question of converting or being killed, is the Jew permitted to sacrifice himself rather than convert? Separately: which would be ...
2
votes
2answers
288 views

Is it allowed to make paintings of living creatures?

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 ...
8
votes
4answers
833 views

Why use Babylonian calendar instead of our own?

Why did the Hebrews not create their own calendar system instead of copying the pagan Babylonians'? I find it interesting that they use a pagan calendar which often honours pagan gods. Why is this ...
6
votes
2answers
338 views

Avodah Zarah in other religions

Picking up on some of the discussions recently, which religions are Avodah Zarah and why? How does that translate into our relationships with them?
3
votes
3answers
327 views

What can a Jew draw? [duplicate]

The Torah prohibits making certain images, (Deuteronomy 4:15-19). It includes males and females, animals, planets, and stars. It seems from these verses that a person's options when drawing the world ...
13
votes
5answers
610 views

Did the Rambam believe in magic?

If you read through Chapter 11 of the Rambam's laws on Idol Worship, you'll see what seems to be the Rambam forbidding anything that even resembles magic, all while calling such practices foolish and ...
11
votes
4answers
418 views

Why is the idea of sefirot not shituf?

Why are the sefirot not considered a problem of Shituf? Is there anything wrong with believing in sefirot?
10
votes
1answer
286 views

Dipping fingers in Havdalah Wine

What is the source or origin of the custom to dip one's fingers in the wine poured over the candle to extinguish it at the conclusion of Havdalah? As a side note, and a reason I'm tagging it this ...
8
votes
3answers
147 views

What happened to Avraham's students?

We read how Avraham was going around convincing people to believe in one G-d and of his many students. Yet we don't hear of those students (or their descendants) ever again. What happened to them ...
7
votes
1answer
195 views

Davening in front of a picture of 'Avodah Zarah

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 ...
6
votes
3answers
456 views

Is there sufficient evidence to support the theory that ancient Israel practiced monolatry?

I just came across this Wikipedia article on monolatrism that says some people believe ancient Israel practiced monolatry. The highest claim to be made for Moses is that he was, rather than a ...
5
votes
2answers
187 views

Would a gentile child that sees/touches wine make it into Yayin Nesech?

Would a gentile child - under the age of 13/12 - that sees/touches wine make it into Yayin Nesech? Or can only an adult make it into Yayin Nesech?
3
votes
3answers
318 views

Getting benefit from a church

I recently heard that one is forbidden to get any benefit from a church (or any other place of worship other then a shul). They went on to say that the prohibation included while giving directions ...
1
vote
0answers
106 views

Can photographs be considered idols?

Can photographs of people be considered idols? Is it the kavanot that the viewer ascribes that is important or is it inherent in a 2D image of a face?
-2
votes
1answer
130 views

Has an idol been clearly defined as to what is an Idol that makes it Avodah Zarah? [closed]

Has an idol been clearly defined as to what is an Idol and what is not?
14
votes
8answers
2k views

If Christianity is avodah zarah and Islam is not, why has the Christian world triumphed over the non-Christian, and why do Jews prefer to live among Christians and not Muslims?

The Rambam quite clearly considered Christianity to be avodah zarah. He did not feel the same way about Islam, however, going so far as to condone praying within a mosque, and many Orthodox Jewish ...
14
votes
1answer
549 views

Can a Christian “Grace” invalidate food?

Suppose there's a communal meal in a secular workplace, at which some of the food is reliably kosher. Now suppose that right before anyone takes any food, one of the participants, to general assent, ...
12
votes
3answers
532 views

May a Jew be a Freemason?

According to what I've been told by several people who have inquired of "practicing" (is that the right word?) Freemasons, and supported by Wikipedia, "Freemasonry explicitly and openly states that it ...
8
votes
4answers
572 views

What is the exact definition of Shituf (vis a vis 'Avodah Zarah)?

"Shituf" is the heretical idea of some sort of co-mingling of something with G-d (Has VeShalom). According to many rabbinic opinions, Christianity is Shituf (cf., Is Christianity Avodah Zara?), and ...
19
votes
3answers
628 views

While playing a computer game, may I “worship” one of the game's “gods” to help me win?

I sometimes play a certain computer role-playing game (RPG). In this game, my character (whom I might name after myself but who does not otherwise resemble me) fights mythological creatures and ...
16
votes
3answers
786 views

Why do we bow down in the direction of the ark?

This is a question I've had for many years, to which I've never received a satisfactory answer: In Hebrew school, we were taught that idolaters bowed to a idol of their god. They would claim that ...
10
votes
1answer
215 views

Nullifying Ancient Israelite Idols

Following up on a question raised on the Avodah list (see here & here under the subject “Destroying Idols”). Archaeologists often dig up idols whose worshipers have abandoned them over the ...
9
votes
3answers
281 views

Permissibility of images of celestial bodies

There is precedent in halachah that one may not create images of celestial bodies such as the moon and stars; see here for background. This is derived in the Gemara from the pasuk "Do not make [images ...
4
votes
1answer
173 views

May one use the name of an avodah zara?

What is the source for not using the proper name of an avodah zara? How far does this halacha extend? For instance if thousands of years ago people worshipped an avodah zara named "XYZ" but no longer ...
4
votes
6answers
800 views

What's with Kiddush Levana?

In general Kiddush Lavanah has always seemed to me to be akin to "Avodas Kochavim" - so does anyone know of a satisfying answer that works with Occam's razor? More specifically: We say Just as I can ...
13
votes
2answers
479 views

Is it permitted for a Ben-Noach be an atheist?

Avoda zarah is one of the things prohibited by the Seven Noachide Laws. But what about atheism? I know that the 7 Laws are often taken to include a larger number of halachot from the Torah, so would ...
10
votes
3answers
189 views

the tangled web of prophecy

The sages removed the inclination for idol worship (gemarah in Yoma) and subsequently prophecy ceased. It is postulated that the two are interconnected. Meaning that in order to maintain free will if ...
9
votes
3answers
466 views

Asking non-Jews to pray for someone

Is it appropriate to ask non-Jews to pray on behalf of someone in dire straits (sick, wrongfully imprisoned, trapped, etc.)? Edit: If it's appropriate, would it be inappropriate if the person being ...
6
votes
2answers
233 views

Business with Christians during their holiday periods

According to those who hold that Christianity is avodah zarah, may Jews do business with Christians within three days of Sunday (or if you want, within 3 days of Dec. 25 or Easter) in light of the ...
5
votes
2answers
311 views

What was so good about Naamah the Ammonite?

In Bava Kamma 38b we are told that one reason God spared Lot was because of the two good birds who would issue from his daughters. Rus from Moav and Naamah from Ammon. Rus is well known, the only ...
2
votes
1answer
147 views

Is Unitarianism considered to be idolatry? [duplicate]

Many Jewish authorities consider Christianity to be idolatry due to their belief in a "Holy Trinity." Is that position universal for all Christians, or is it specific only to particular individuals or ...
2
votes
1answer
200 views

What are the issues with singing in a secular choir that includes some Christian music?

If one sings in a secular choir (consisting of both Jews and gentiles) that performs in secular locations and contexts (such as concert halls, public plazas, nursing homes, etc), what are the issues ...
1
vote
3answers
203 views

Is Buddhism Avodah Zarah?

Is Buddhism Avodah Zarah, atheistic, or a philosophy not related to any specific brand of theism? If it is Avodah Zarah, then one would not be able to enter a Buddhist temple, benefit from items of ...
1
vote
0answers
103 views

Pictures of rabbis in the living room

Are there any poskim prohibiting hanging Pictures of Rabbis in ones house? Lots of people do it but I never understood why this is not prohibited due to too much kavod for human being, which is close ...
0
votes
1answer
552 views

Why do people say that Abraham and his family were idolaters at first?

A common idea these days, is that Abraham, his father and their families were supposed to have worshipped idols, until the true Creator, the LORD, called him from Ur of the Chaldees to give unto him ...
-2
votes
2answers
141 views

Does demolishing idolatry require specific authority?

Is a command from legal authorities required to demolish idols? Moreover, what counts as a legal authority in such a case? e.g: You may find many Idols of Jesus in churches in the biblical Israel , ...
4
votes
1answer
611 views

Why isn't the Kabbalistic doctrine of Sefirot considered Shittuf if the Christian Trinity is?

From the answers to this question it seems that most if not all Jewish sources treat Trinitarian Christianity (in particular, their doctrine of the Trinity) as either Shittuf or outright Avoda Zara, ...
18
votes
4answers
2k views

Is practicing Yoga against Torah?

What does Halacha and Halachic Authorities have to say about the permissibility of a Jew practicing Yoga? Is it Avodah Zarah? If it is problematic, are there methods of doing it where it would be ...
14
votes
2answers
627 views

Is a Jew allowed to be knighted? Problem with kneeling?

Is there any halachik problem with going through the knighting (or Damehood for women) process of kneeling etc? The current ceremony does not contain many of the Christian or pagan overtones of the ...
6
votes
3answers
171 views

Reading books about Avodah Zarah

Is it permissible to read books about Avodah Zarah? Is it permissible to read Greek mythology for informational purposes, seeing as it's not particularly tempting to anyone nowadays? Is it ...
6
votes
5answers
718 views

Should the Christian cross be seen as an idol?

As Christianity is Avodah Zarah, is a Christian cross which people kiss, pay respect to, and face toward when praying, considered to be an idol? Here is a brief excerpt from a scholarly Christian ...
12
votes
3answers
1k views

What is the red string all about?

Where did the concept of wearing a red string come from? I have heard different opinions ranging from "you should definitely wear it" to "its forbidden like idol worship" - who is right?
7
votes
2answers
507 views

What to do with the Cross on the Chess King?

Many (perhaps most) Chess sets come with a King piece that has a cross on the top of it. Is there any problem with owning or using such a chess set? Should one break off the cross?
7
votes
1answer
259 views

Are there any ill-effects for mis-directed prayers?

Inspired by the end of this answer: Just remember that all non-Jews don't follow the Sheva Mitzvot and could [even] be in Avodah Zarah and then would...a blessing [of theirs] matter? It might even ...
6
votes
2answers
339 views

Is the cat figurine thing a problem at kosher Chinese restaurants?

It seems like all kosher Chinese restaurants have this cat-statue thingy in the front: Is there any Halachic problem with that? I assume not, if they're all kosher-certified; but why not?
5
votes
2answers
434 views

Conversion to Islam

Although Islam is considered monotheistic I would imagine that in a case of 'oness' (coercion) one would still not be allowed to convert. Is conversion to Islam considered to be a case of יהרג ואל ...
5
votes
1answer
219 views

Buddha at Indian Restaurants

Is the Buddha statue (or Hindu statues) a problem at Kosher Indian restaurants? (This is different than the cat question since the cat is only a good-luck superstition and these are actual idols)
4
votes
1answer
100 views

Is idolatrous belief forbidden for gentiles, or is it just practice?

Suppose a non-Jew believes that there are multiple gods, but he does not worship them in any way. Is this a violation of the prohibition against idolatry for gentiles?