For centuries Idol Worship was extremely popular across the ancient world & even in the Jewish community. I highly doubt that all these people were busy building & worshipping statutes based solely on faith & tradition so HaShem must have allowed these practitioners to benefit from this practice. Is there any textual evidence to support this?

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    See Placebo (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Placebo) and why it is effective. Also If you bring sacrifices to the Sun, it will shine every day!
    – Al Berko
    May 22, 2019 at 16:17
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    Perhaps I will attempt a full answer when possible but there are many pesukim in T'nach where the prophets argue against avodah zarah based in it being ineffectual.
    – Yirmeyahu
    May 22, 2019 at 16:22
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    The problem is that in Ancient times the scientific method was very unpopular and people didn't care to count the statistics and perform research. As we know from the Torah, that even G-d does not work in a strict reward-and-punishment way, it is extremely hard to compare idolatry to worshipping G-d.
    – Al Berko
    May 22, 2019 at 16:23
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    You are asking for evidence that avodah zoroh is effective at a site for those who base their lives on Jewish law and tradition. Avodah zoroh is ineffective and I doubt you will get much help here. But you are right to say that it was extremely popular - so much so that Chazal prayed to remove the evil inclination for it! May 22, 2019 at 17:03
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    I don't see how this question is on-topic. How is it about Judaism at all?
    – msh210
    May 22, 2019 at 18:50

2 Answers 2


According to Avodah Zarah 55a, yes, Hashem allowed idolatrous practices to be effective in order to lead them astray:

א"ל רבא בר רב יצחק לרב יהודה האיכא בית עבודת כוכבים באתרין דכי מצטריך עלמא למטרא מתחזי להו בחלמא ואמר להו שחטו לי גברא ואייתי מטרא שחטו לה גברא ואתי מטרא

Rava Bar Rav Yitzchak said to Rav Yehudah, “Isn’t there a house of idol worship in our area, that when the world needs rain, it appears to them in a dream and says to them, ‘Slaughter for me a man and I will bring rain,’ and they slaughter for it a man, and it rains?”

א"ל השתא אי הוי שכיבנא לא אמרי לכו הא מלתא דאמר רב מאי דכתיב (דברים ד, יט) אשר חלק ה' אלהיך אותם לכל העמים מלמד שהחליקן בדברים כדי לטורדן מן העולם

He said to him, “Now, were I dead, I could not have told you this matter which Rav said: ‘What is that which is written (Devarim 4:19), “Which Hashem your G-d has separated them from the nations”? This teaches that Hashem separates them with matters in order to remove them from the world.’”

והיינו דאמר ריש לקיש מאי דכתיב (משלי ג, לד) אם ללצים הוא יליץ ולענוים יתן חן בא לטמא פותחין לו בא לטהר מסייעין אותו

This is that which Reish Lakish said: “What is that which is written (Mishlei 3:34), ‘If to the scoffers, He will scoff, but to the humble He gives grace’? One who comes to become impure, they open for him; one who comes to become pure, they help him.”


In this video on the subject, Rabbi Akiva Tatz argues that the way Ribbono Shel Olam created the universe does indeed allow for certain types of Avodah Zarah to be effective, though he does not get into why that is so.

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