I'm an Italian noahide.

I read what Rambam says in Avodat Kochavim 3: 10-11 about the making of images by a Jew.

I also read the following words in a Jewish forum:

“The Torah says, "Don't make a carved statue or the image of anything in the heaven above or the earth below..." This verse prohibits making a three-dimensional image. The Code of Jewish Law codifies this prohibition, and adds that even owning an idol is forbidden. One may neither own, use, nor derive any benefit from an idol whatsoever. One is not even allowed to throw it in the garbage; Rather, one must "throw it into the Dead Sea" or otherwise destroy it. However, most people follow the ruling of the Chochmat Adam. He says that nowadays, it is permitted to own images - even an image of a human being. He explains as follows: The whole reason it was forbidden to own an image was so that nobody would suspect the owner of being a "closet" idol worshipper. But since people generally do not worship idols today, there is no longer any cause for suspicion.”

If I understand correctly, here the Chochmat Adam speaks in terms of the lawfulness of just owning three-dimensional human images. Is it correct or does Rabbi Danzig extend his reasoning also to the lawfulness concerning realization of three-dimensional human images?

2 Answers 2


The Chochmas Odom 85,3 clearly states there is a Prohibition for a Jew to carve images even though they are not for worshipping

כתיב לא תעשון אתי אלהי כסף כו' וקבלו חז"ל דזהו אזהרה שאסור לצייר צורות שבמדור עליון ותחתון ור"ל לא תעשון דמות הצורות שהם אתי במרום ולכן אסור לצייר צורות ד' פנים שבמרכבה וצורות שרפים ומה"ש וכן אסור צורת אדם לבדו ואפי' לגוי או אפי' בשביל כותית אסור לעשות

It is written in the Torah: "do not make with me golden gods..." our Rabbis explained that this a prohibition to carve graven images of heavenly beings or a person, even though one is just selling the sculpture to a gentile (i.e not for worship)

In 85,5 The Chochmas Odom says one cannot even instruct a gentile to make him an image (of heavenly beings or humans). But if one ends up with an image of a human he is not suspect of worshipping it. Of course if he removes an eye or defects the sculpture, he is not suspect of worshipping the statue and can subsequently keep it, as long as it has not been worshipped which is usually the case nowadays:

כשם שאסור לעשותן כך אסור לומר לנכרי לעשותן דאמירה לנכרי שבות בכל המצות ואפי' להשהותן אסור משום חשד (ש"ך ס"ק כ"ג) ונ"ל דצורת אדם בזמה"ז מותר לשהותן דכיון דאינו אלא משום חשד וידוע דבזמה"ז אין עובדין לצורת אדם ואותו שנעבד עושין אותו משונה וכן מתלמידיו העבדים יש בכל א' מהן סימן ואלו ודאי אסור להשהותן אבל שאר צורת אדם ומכ"ש אם סימא עיניו וכיוצא בו דאין בו משום חשד

  • @amos is this the answer you were researching?
    – user15464
    Mar 12, 2020 at 20:35

My rabbi bought a bronze statue of the famed Greek pagan philosopher Aristotle. He did not make any defects in the statue and it is likely that a gentile crafted it. He does not consider it an idol despite what Maimonides says. He bought the statue because Aristotle is one of his favorite philosophers, as well as a rationalist. Aristotle taught Alexander the Great and later Maimonides who inspired many. Maimonides would later teach Jews Greek truths.

True, the Torah verse 16:22 prohibits the use of pillars "that the L-rd your G-d hates," and 12:3, "You must break down their [Canaanites] altars and break their pillars." However, Exodus 24:4 informs us that Moses wrote the words of G-d at Mount Sinai "and rose up early in the morning and built an altar under the mountain and twelve pillars equaling the number of the twelve Israelite tribes." The patriarchs also built pillars in Genesis. Is there a contradiction in the Bible?

Actually, the Bible is only prohibiting the use of pillar associated with idolatry (ibn Ezra). Rashi ignores Moses' acts when he relies on Midrash Sifrei, "although he loved them [the pillars] during the day of the patriarchs, he hates them now because these [the Canaanites] used them for their idol worship practice." Rashi opines that verse 16:22 bans all pillars even though the plain reading of the text shows that G-d banned only pillars "the L-rd your G-d hates." G-d does not dislike statues.

But isn't this a violation of the Decalogue which states: “Thou shalt not make unto thee a graven image, nor any manner of likeness”? Yes, it is. But my rabbi explained that most, if not all the biblical commands were changed. for example, contrary to the second prohibition, all rabbis allow making and owning pictures and statutes. Be it as it may, many ancient synagogues had statues like modern cathedrals today. In fact, Rabbi Marc Shapiro claims that ancient talmudic books had an image of G-d depicted as a man — G-d forbid.

In respect to statues of humans, I agree with my orthodox rabbi and think the Chochmat Adam is correct to say that Jews do not worship idols today so we need not worry.

  • How does this answer the question asked?
    – Joel K
    Feb 18, 2020 at 4:42
  • 3
    Statues are not a violation of the Decalogue unless they are worshipped. It is a violation of a different mitzvah for a Jew to make a statue. Before you say the halachic system is wrong, you should understand that system.
    – Heshy
    Feb 18, 2020 at 13:23
  • @Heshy I didn't say it, my rabbi did. Furthermore, my rabbi claims that most, if not all of the biblical laws were changed by the rabbis.
    – Jonathan
    Feb 18, 2020 at 16:36

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