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17

The Rambam in his אגרת השמד says outward acceptance of Islam is not ייהרג ואל יעבור. On the other hand, the Radvaz quotes the Ritva as saying that this is ייהרג ואל יעבור. According to the Rambam, outward acceptance of Islam is not ייהרג ואל יעבור because Islam is not עבודה זרה, and even though it is heretical because it denies the Torah, one does not have ...


16

In Jewish law, the idea of the Trinity falls under the catchall term of "shittuf" - worshipping G-d along with some other being. Shittuf is prohibited for Jews. This means that a Jew would be prohibited to acknowledge the Christian savior as part of the G-dhead, or to participate in Christian worship, even at the cost of his or her life. There is a dispute ...


15

Rav Moshe Feinstein, in a t'shuva about allowing children to say a generic prayer in public school (Orach Chayim II #24), refers to the Ramba"m's statement in Mishne Torah that Adam Harishon was given 6 commandments, including belief in God. No'ach and his descendants later got one more, adding up to 7. They both conclude that not only the negative aspect of ...


14

Well, here's what comes to mind. Bowing is not reserved for G-d. There are many cases in the Bible when prominent Jews bowed to kings such as the prophet Natan bowing to David (Melachim 1:1:23) and Yosef’s brothers bowing to Yosef (Breishit 42:6). Even Avraham (Breishit 18:2) bowed to strangers whom he suspected of being idolaters (Rashi to verse 4). ...


14

In general, don't try to obtain your knowledge of Judaism from episodes of Arthur or from fiction stories. People make things up in the interest of the story. There are much better, and more accurate, sources for learning about Judaism. Yes, in general, it is considered not a good thing for a Jewish person to practice another religion. But in terms of the ...


11

Let's take a step back: the Hebrew calendar uses lunar months of either 29 or 30 days (for 354 days altogether). Now the Bible says that Passover should be in the spring, and if you keep having years of 354 days you'll keep sliding backwards until Passover won't be in the spring anymore, so every so often they'd add a leap month. Sure, other peoples may have ...


11

Given the Rambam's statement: Anyone who accepts upon himself the fulfillment of these seven mitzvot and is precise in their observance is considered one of 'the pious among the gentiles' and will merit a share in the world to come. This applies only when he accepts them and fulfills them because the Holy One, blessed be He, commanded them in the ...


10

R' Chaim Dov Rabinowitz (author of Daas Sofrim), in his volume on Jewish history since the close of Tanach, in fact harshly criticizes the Jews of Babylonia for migrating from there to the Christian West during the Geonic era. He argues, for one thing, that they should have learned from the experience of the Jews under Byzantine domination (especially in the ...


10

The Talmud, in discussing whether the practice of refraining from engaging in business with worshipers of Avoda Zara (lest they offer thanks to their Avoda Zara) three days prior to (and according to R Yishmael also: following) their holidays (cf. Mishna AZ 1:1) includes the day of the holiday itself in the count of three days, states (AZ 6a and 7b): אמר ...


10

There is no sufficient evidence to prove this concept in one direction or another, and there never will be. I will try explain why. I am not sure where to begin, so I will just do an info dump of points which hopefully will be sufficient, because this is a complicated topic. Monolatrism is a made up word used to try to discredit Judaism and Christianity. ...


10

Throughout the Bible, many Jews keep veering into idolatry, such as the examples seen in Yaakov's answer. (Fascinatingly the whole idolatry thing comes to a screeching halt right around the Jews' return from Babylon to Israel around 2500 years ago. The Talmud says there was some "itch" that idol-worship seemed to "scratch" that dissipated then.) But the ...


10

No, one may not pray in front of a mirror. The Radbaz in a responsum (4:107) gives both of the reasons you mention as explanations. From DailyHalacha.com The question surrounding the permissibility of praying facing such a window arises from a discussion of the Radbaz (Rabbi David Ben Zimra, Egypt, 1480-1574) regarding praying in front of a mirror. It is ...


9

One: the Rema does not rule that goyim are permitted shituf, but merely rules that for them swearing in the the name of a shituf is not an act of avodah zarah (as only Jews are prohibitted from swearing in anything but HaShem's name). As explained in the Nodah Beyahudah, Yoreh Deah 148: "The intention of the Tosefos and the Rama is that combining the Name of ...


9

In the original version of the Rambam in Sefer Qedusha, Hilkhot Maakhalot Asurot 11:7 (compare the censored version and the uncensored version) he rules that xian are idol worshipers.


9

There's a rule that "you can't prohibit that which does not belong to you." A pagan can go deify my cow and bow down to it all he wants; he can even slaughter it to his idol; if it's my cow, he did nothing and you can derive benefit from the cow. So the first and major question is, who owned the food in this situation, and who consecrated it? Moreover, ...


9

In the Torah we see the word Elokim used for both Hashem and other nations Gods (Elohim Acheirim). That proves that a word can have two meanings, and you still may use it. In addition the name Gad does not sound like God at all.


9

I once heard Rav Shmuel Kaminetsky describing the life of a certain Rav in a little shtetel many years ago. The people of the village were unlearned, and the Rav, who was a big Talmid Chacham, had no one with whom to converse in Torah learning. What did he do? He would put his hat on the banister next to the Aron Hakodesh, and speak as if there was an ...


9

It may be that Rambam would distinguish between whether the magician actually did some kind of action or not. Suppose, for example, you have someone who claims that he will use magic to harvest a field of cucumbers (the example given in the Mishnah, Sanhedrin 67a). There are, then, three possibilities: He performs some action (waving a wand, saying some ...


8

To judge by Wikipedia, it looks like the basic meaning of it is "teacher" or something similar - the Hindu use of it is a specification of that general meaning. So I can't imagine that it would be any different, say, than our using "priest" as a translation of kohen.


8

The siddur “Ishei Yisroel MaihaGr”a” says the following (my translation from the 2008 edition) in a footnote, “I have seen in the name of the Gr”a (see what is written in the Keser Rosh simon 93) that he protests how can one ask for a blessing from the angels. But it seems that the one who heard this (protest) made an error because his words really apply to ...


8

Rema, Orach Chaim 296:1: גם שופכים מן הכוס לאחר הבדלה ומכבין בו הנר ורוחצים בו עיניו משום חבוב מצוה "We also pour out [some of the wine] from the cup after havdalah, and extinguish the candle with it, and wash our eyes with it as an expression of love for the mitzvah." An earlier source is Tur, Orach Chaim 299, citing R. Amram Gaon. So it goes ...


8

The Shulchan Aruch (YD 157:1) discusses the issue of when one must (or may) martyr himself, know in Hebrew as קידוש השם - The [Ultimate] Sanctification of God's Name. If someone threatens your life if you won't break some rule: If you are alone (or in the presence of less than ten adult Jews): If he is doing so for his own personal benefit: If it is one ...


8

Rashi on that g'mara clearly says (about the first prohibition) that it means making a life-size model, which would mean pictures on coins are okay. Likewise, it's codified in the Rambam as "one may not make a house of the form of the hechal, a porch of the form of the ulam,… a candelabrum of the form of the m'nora", etc., and Shulchan Aruch writes ...


8

I would assume that there's no issue, as these crosses were only made for a design (in the game) and would fall under the heter of Shulchan Aruch YD 141:1, where he permits any figure presumed to have been made for merely aesthetic purposes. Even though the crosses on the gravestones are meant to be religious symbols, these particular crosses aren't ...


8

The only question that I'm going to answer directly is number 2, since I heard directly from my Rebbi that it is 100% permissible (unfortunately, I can't quote it in his name since I didn't get his permission to use his name on this site, but I'll say that he's a well respected Musmach from Yeshivas Chafetz Chaim). He said that given the limited number of ...


7

For question 1: The blessing is addressed to Hashem ("Who created the heavens with His word... Blessed are You, G-d, Who renews the months"), not to the moon. Where's the avodah zarah there? It's no different than the blessings on other natural phenomena, such as rainbows, notable mountains, etc, where we look at the object while praising Hashem. [That ...


7

I don't think it's a problem. By this point the word has been integrated into the English vernacular as a synonym for "expert," and does not have any religious connotations. For example, a quick search of the New York Times results in phrases such as "golf guru," "management guru," "photography guru," "fitness guru," and "fashion guru." In fact, when the ...


7

Per Sanhedrin 74a there are three things a Jew is supposed to be a martyr for. Avodah Zara = idolatry, Gilui Arayos = sexual immorality, Shefichas Damim = being forced to kill another. So yes the right thing to do would be to get killed in such a situation. In a Shaas HaShemad = a time when the Jews are not allowed to keep the Torah, per the Rambam Hilchos ...


7

The Mishna was referring to specific sects at the time. If we had solid reason to believe today that a person's dress indicated serious rifts with mainstream Jewish theology, we'd think twice about having them lead prayers (and, as was done then, apply poetic license in how to recite the texts). I don't really see that as an issue now.



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