Someone once told me the Rogochover says that Muslims are idol worshippers, as they secretly worship the moon.

I couldn't find where the Rogochover actually writes this. This article (fn. 20) says this claim is brought in HaRogochovi by Yair Bochorov, on p. 176, that it's מפי השמועה (an oral tradition). Apparently the sources for this tradition are found on p. 419, but I don't have access to it. This book also says that the Rambam only wrote otherwise because he lived under Muslim rule.

I would like the sources which report this claim, and sources which discuss reputability (ie: if he actually said it) or dispute it (ie: quoting the Rogochover and explaining why he's wrong).

Note: In case it's not obvious, I'm in no way advocating such a position. Anyone with a little exposure to Islam knows they're purely monotheistic. I merely seek sources regarding the position of the Rogochover.

  • +1 Interesting. I'm not usually near the one shul I know that has that seffer, so I can't check for you, but I hope someone can check this up. I actually used to skim through it sometimes. There were definitely some very interesting things in there, but I don't remember this. I wonder if he said this because of the crescent & star on the flag of the Ottoman Empire which continues on in Muslim societies.
    – user6591
    Jul 7, 2019 at 22:48
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    Hey! Wanted to update that I was fortunate enough to go today to Bar Ilan's library, where I checked the Rogotchovi book, among other things, as promised. The source is, unfortunately (or fortunately?) merely מפי השמועה.
    – Harel13
    Jul 22, 2021 at 15:22

1 Answer 1


In the book "Shu"t Ach Tov Leyisrael" by Rabbi Efraim Kachlon, he has a siman discussing the potential Avodah Zara status of Islam, and he mentions this claim about the Rogatchover (pg. 134-135):

"ואשר ע"י השנ'י שכתב לערער ולומר שיש לישמעאלים דין עוע"ז הוא במה שראיתי בספר הרוגצ'ובי (עמ' 157), וזתו"ד שם פעם נסבבה שיחה עם הגאון (ר' יוסף רוזין בעל הצפנת פענח) אודות המוסלמים, ואחד הנוכחים הזכיר את פסק דין של הרמב"ם (שם), כי הנוצרים הם עוע"ז אך המוסלמים אינם כאלה...נענה הגאון ואמר כי לדעתו כיום גם המוסלמים הם עוע"ז, כיון שסמלם הוא חצי ירח והם עובדים לירח. וזאת מכיון שברובם היו יושבי מדבריות שם המים נחוצים ביותר והגאות והשפל של המים נקבעת ע"פ הירח. והגאון המשיך- הרמב"ם לא פסק שהם עוע"ז כיון שהוא התגורר בארצות האיסלם, ופסק כזה היה בגדר סכנה ופיקו"נ, ולמעשה יש להקל ולסמוך על הדעה שאכן אינם עוע"ז. עכ"ד. והרואה יראה דפלי"ד כל דברי הרמב"ם כתוהו וכלא נחשבו, דכל מה שפסק כן הוא מיראה אותם, ונלענ"ד אחר המחי"ר יש לפקפק אם פה קדוש של הגאון הרוגצ'ובי יאמר כן, דהא אם היה הדבר כן שחשש הרמב"ם לפסוק עליהם דין עכו"ם, הוי ליה למישתק ולא לכתוב להדיא כמה פעמים שאינם בכלל עוע"ז, ותקלה רבתא יוצאת מזה, ועוד דהטור והשו"ע שלא היו כפופים לישמעאלים לא סבירא ליה הכי בדברי הרמב"ם דפסקו כן להלכה, ואף הרשב"א בתורת הבית וכל המפרשים הנזכרים לעיל לא סב"ל הכי. ועוד דאף הר"ן בסנהדרין (שם), שכתב שיש להם דין עוע"ז לא כתב מטעמי דמשתחוים לירח אלא שמשתחוים למוחמד, וביחוד שלא ראיתי שכתב כן הגאון ר' יוסף רוזין זצ"ל בספריו, ואין מוכיחין ממעשיות להלכה ופשוט."

Translation: And as for the second who wrote to undercut and to say that the Ishmaelites have a status of idolaters is in what I saw in the book Harogotchovi (pg. 157), and this is what is written there: Once there was a discussion with the Gaon (R' Yosef Ruzhin, author of the Tzofnat Pa'ane'ach) about the Muslims, and one of the people there mentioned the law of the Rambam (there), that the Christians are idolaters but the Muslims are not so...replied the Gaon and said that in his view, today also the Muslims are considered idolaters, for their symbol is the crescent moon and they worship the moon. And this is because the majority of them live in the deserts where water is greatly needed and the rise and fall of the water is determined by the moon, and the gaon continued- the Rambam didn't rule that they were idolaters because he lived in the Islamic lands, and such a ruling was dangerous and pikuach nefesh, and l'ma'aseh, one should be moderate and follow the view that says that indeed, they aren't idolaters. Until here his words. And whoever sees this will see that according to his view, all of the teachings of the Rambam are like Tohu and meaningless, for all that he ruled was out of fear from them [the Muslims], and it seems to me that after asking for great forgiveness, one should doubt whether the holy mouth of the Gaon the Rogotchovi even said so, for if this was because the Rambam was afraid of ruling that they had a status of idolaters, he should have remained silent and not write clearly several times that they aren't included amongst idolaters, and a great fault has come from this, and moreover, the Tur and the Shulchan Aruch who weren't subject to the Ishmaelites didn't opine so in the teachings of the Rambam for they ruled [like the Rambam] in halacha, and even the Rashba in Torat Habayit and all the commentators mentioned above didn't opine so. And moreover, even the Ran in Sanhedrin (there), who wrote that they have a status of idolaters didn't write so from the reason that they bowed to the moon but because they bow to Muhammad, and especially because I didn't see that the Gaon R' Yosef Ruzhin zt"l wrote so in his books, and one doesn't prove anything from fables as halacha, and this is simple."

Update: Having checked Borochov's book and finding that it merely says "מפי השמועה", it seems that Rabbi Kachlon's explanation still holds...

  • I was hoping for the source for this מפי השמועה, supposedly on p. 419 of HaRogochovi, but this will do for now. Thank you.
    – robev
    Jan 12, 2021 at 18:19
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    @robev You're welcome. Good to know; I'll keep my eyes peeled in case I come across another source. :)
    – Harel13
    Jan 12, 2021 at 18:23

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