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If it is accepted that Avodah Zarah has effectively ceased to exist, as suggested elsewhere on this site, why do we need to follow any of the relevant halachah, that applies to social relationships with non-Jews, use of some of their food and drink, visiting their places of worship, etc? Why do we need to defend ourselves against a threat that is no longer there?

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  • The theme has come up in previous questions as you can see: judaism.stackexchange.com/questions/61379/…. and judaism.stackexchange.com/questions/61379/…. If as some claim there is no longer any AZ, why keep any of the laws that existed to protect people from being seduced/tempted by it? – Kleinzahler Mar 16 at 23:37
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    I don't know what you're talking about. No one claims there is no AZ. Proof: christianity exists. QED. – Double AA Mar 16 at 23:52
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    This question would be greatly improved if you offered an actual authoritative source that AZ no longer exists, instead of claiming that it says so somewhere on a website. – Jay Mar 17 at 0:56
  • To Jay: Rabbi Reuven Klein’s book, "God versus gods" (Mosaica Press) p.249 (quoting Halbertal 1992:167),”after the Sages banished the idolatrous inclination, idolatry was no longer a viable hypothesis.” He also quotes, TB Yoma 60b, Sanhderin 64a, R. Emden, Hagahos Yaavetz to TB Yoma 69b. On p.252, “R. Yitzchok Hunter (1906-1980)…explains that while the idolatrous inclination existed in Biblical times, by Rabbinic times it had already been eliminated.” R. Yehuda ha-Chassid in Sefer Chassidim, once the idolatrous inclination had been removed, there was no need for prophecy. – Kleinzahler Mar 17 at 11:17
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(Note: this answer should not be construed as accepting the premise of the question. It is merely explaining why the conclusion would be rejected even if the premise is correct.)

I’m not sure if the laws you want to abolish are referring to Biblical laws or Rabbinic laws, so let’s address both. Regarding Biblical laws, Maimonides in Guide for the Perplexed 3:34 writes:

From this consideration it also follows that the laws cannot, like medicine, vary according to the different conditions of persons and times; whilst the cure of a person depends on his particular constitution at the particular time, the divine guidance contained in the Law must be certain and general, although it may be effective in some cases and ineffective in others. If the Law depended on the varying conditions of man, it would be imperfect in its totality, each precept being left indefinite. For this reason it would not be right to make the fundamental principles of the Law dependent on a certain time or a certain place; on the contrary, the statutes and the judgments must be definite, unconditional and general, in accordance with the divine words: "As for the congregation, one ordinance shall be for you and for the stranger" (Num. xv. 15); they are intended, as has been stated before, for all persons and for all times.

(Friedlander translation)

Regarding Rabbinic laws, Maimonides in Hilchot Mamrim 2:2-3 writes:

The following rules apply when a court issued a decree, instituted an edict, or established a custom and this practice spread throughout the Jewish people and another court arose and sought to nullify the original order and eliminate the original edict, decree, or custom. The later court does not have this authority unless it surpasses the original court in wisdom and in its number of adherents. If it surpasses the original court in wisdom, but not in the number of adherents, or in the number of adherents, but not in wisdom, it cannot nullify its statements. Even if the rationale for which the original court instituted the decree or the edict is nullified, the later court does not have the authority to negate their statements unless they are greater.

How is it possible that the later court will surpass the original court in number? For every Supreme Sanhedrin consists of 71 judges. The intent is the number of sages in the generation who consent and accept the matter stated by the Supreme Sanhedrin without opposing it.

When does the above apply? With regard to matters that were not forbidden to create a safeguard for the words of the Torah, but rather resemble other Torah laws. A different principle applies, by contrast, with regard to matters which the court sought necessary to issue a decree and create a prohibition as a safeguard. If the prohibition spread throughout the Jewish people, another Supreme Sanhedrin does not have the authority to uproot the decree and grant license even if it was of greater stature than the original court.

(Touger translation, my emphasis)

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According to Rb Yaakov Weinberg, avodah zarah is any value system defined outside of the perimeters of the Torah. The entire world today is mistovev on re-defining value systems.

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    I don't think he could have meant it literally with respect to the relevant laws. If someone offers wine to the Communist Party (for example), it isn't יין נסך – b a Mar 17 at 12:08
  • @ba I don't know – The GRAPKE Mar 17 at 12:41

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