The question is remarkably simple (even though the answer may not be so).

Is it allowed by halacha to stand in the presence of an idol or enter a room where an idol is present ?

Specifically, I'm reffering to visiting the house of a xian friend or relative which has xian icons and crosses. The house is adorned with such objects.

The best source I could find regarding to this is in Avodah Zarah, and at first glance it seems to suggest that it is permissible, but the tractate describes a specific example which is not my situation per se.

Mishnah, Avodah Zarah 3:4:

Proklos son of Plosfos asked Rabban Gamliel [a question] in Akko, while he was bathing in the bathhouse of Aphrodite. He said to him: "It is written in your Torah (Deuteronomy 13:18): 'And let none of the condemned cling to your hand;' why then are you bathing in the bathhouse of Aphrodite? He said to him: one does not respond [to halakhic questions] in the bathhouse. When he left, he said to him: "I did not come into her territory; she came into my territory. They did not say [when they built this bathhouse]: 'Let us make a beautiful bathhouse for Aphrodite.' Rather, they said: 'Let us make Aphrodite for the beauty of the bathhouse.' Another reason: [even] if they gave you a lot of money, you would not enter before your idolatry naked and defiled and urinating in front of it. Yet she stands on the sewer pipe and the entire nation urinates in front of her. The verse (Deuteronomy 12:3) only applies to "their gods;" that which he treats like a god is prohibited, and that which he does not treat like a god is permitted.

Also, Avodah Zarah 44b:

Abaye said: The deception in Rabban Gamliel’s response was from here, when he said to him: I did not come into its domain, but rather it came into my domain. He explains: And even if it, the bathhouse, had come into its domain, what of it? Even if the idol had preceded the bathhouse, it would still not render use of the bathhouse prohibited; but didn’t we learn in a mishna (51b): With regard to an object of idol worship that has a bathhouse or a garden in front of it, one may derive benefit from the bathhouse or garden without showing favor by giving thanks or payment to its priests, but one may not derive benefit from it while showing it favor? Rabban Gamliel’s answer was therefore deceptive because the permissibility of using the bathhouse had nothing to do with its antecedence to the statue.

These two passages taken together make it seem that it is permissible to enter a place (garden, bathhouse) which houses an idol, provided that

  1. It is not specifically a house of worship (pagan temple, church, etc);
  2. You do not worship or give thanks to the idol in any way.
  • 2
    A piece of advice - never try to infer anything straight from the Gemmorah, the Halachah could have changed numerous times since.
    – Al Berko
    Commented May 12, 2019 at 13:36
  • 5
    @WhatNot While Al’s point is technically true, more commonly we don’t infer Halacha from the Gemara because unless you know all of Shas you wouldn’t know if there’s another Gemara which contradicts this one, and we may actually pasken like the other Gemara.
    – DonielF
    Commented May 12, 2019 at 13:50
  • BTW can you post an example of such "idols" maybe they are not considered idols at all? I googled but didn't find anything idolatrous.
    – Al Berko
    Commented May 12, 2019 at 14:09
  • 1
    Another example (that I actually experienced) was in a federal prison non denominational chapel has a 6 foot tall cross with a man hanging from it. (I was there to read Megillah on purim)
    – mroll
    Commented May 12, 2019 at 23:03
  • 1
    Possible duplicate judaism.stackexchange.com/questions/102052/… Commented May 13, 2019 at 11:06


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