I have no direct sources, but I seem to recall that various Chassidic rabbis, maybe others too, have taught that idolatry no longer has any real, or effective power. I think this is limited to Jews, although I may be wrong. It ended with Malachi and the end of prophecy, or alternatively around the second Temple period. (For example, T.B. Chullin 13b suggests that idolatry is not as serious an issue when outside the land of Israel.) If my memory is correct, and Avodah Zarah is no longer the great danger it once was, what if any, are the halachic and other consequences?


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I would answer no, because paganism is no longer a thing. Yes, there is Islam and Christianity, but they are based on Judaism and do not constitute a dangerous threat to Judaism.


Jews abandoned idolatry after the return from Babylon. The Talmud has a colorful explanation: The Jews captured the idolatry demon and destroyed it. They were about to do the same for the sexual immorality demon, but didn't because sex is needed for procreation:

[After the return from Babylonian captivity, the Men of the Great Assembly said:] Woe, woe! It is [the evil desire for idolatry] who has destroyed the Sanctuary, burned the Temple, killed all the righteous, driven all Israel into exile, and is still dancing around among us! You [God] have surely given him to us so that we may receive reward [by resisting him.] We do not want either him or reward through him!... [So the evil desire for idolatry] was surrendered to them. He came forth from the Holy of Holies like a young fiery lion... They said: How shall we act? Perhaps, God forbid, Heaven may have mercy upon him!... The prophet said to them: Cast him into a pot made of lead and close its opening with lead, because lead absorbs the voice... [They did so and he died.] They said... Let us [also] pray for mercy for the Evil Inclination. They prayed for mercy, and he was handed over to them. [The prophet] said to them: Realize that if you kill him [also], the world goes down. They imprisoned him for three days [to see what would happen], then looked in the whole land of Israel for a fresh egg and could not find it. [The Evil Inclination is responsible for sex, which is required for reproduction.] They said: What shall we do now? Shall we kill him? The world would then go down. Shall we beg for half-mercy [allow him to live, but not to tempt us]? They do not grant half-measures in heaven. They put out his eyes and let him go. It helped inasmuch as he no longer entices men to commit incest. [Yoma 69b]

The Midrash concludes:

Rabbi Hunia said in the name of Rabbi Dosa bar Tebeth: God created two evil inclinations in His world, the inclination to idolatry and the inclination to [sexual immorality]. The inclination to idolatry has already been uprooted [from the Jewish people]. The inclination to [sexual immorality, however,] still exists... [Song of Songs Rabbah 7:14]

After Babylon, the Jews did not just ignore idolatry, they were willing to die rather than be forced to worship idols! (Maccabean revolt, etc.) So no, idolatry is no longer a problem for Jews.

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