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I’m curious about studying other people. Is it ok to learn about foreign cultures and religions? Why or why not?

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    הִשָּׁ֣מֶר לְךָ֗ פֶּן־תִּנָּקֵשׁ֙ אַחֲרֵיהֶ֔ם אַחֲרֵ֖י הִשָּׁמְדָ֣ם מִפָּנֶ֑יךָ וּפֶן־תִּדְרֹ֨שׁ לֵאלֹֽהֵיהֶ֜ם לֵאמֹ֗ר אֵיכָ֨ה יַעַבְד֜וּ הַגּוֹיִ֤ם הָאֵ֙לֶּה֙ אֶת־אֱלֹ֣הֵיהֶ֔ם וְאֶעֱשֶׂה־כֵּ֖ן גַּם־אָֽנִי׃ beware of being lured into their ways after they have been wiped out before you! Do not inquire about their gods, saying, “How did those nations worship their gods? I too will follow those practices.”
    – Chatzkel
    Aug 9, 2021 at 22:59
  • Thank you for your warning. I sincerely appreciate it. @Chatzkel Does this mean that H’shem recognizes there are multiple gods in this universe and He is not really The “King of the Universe”, to quote a prayer, and that Judaism does not really believe in One Gd? I know the answer to this question already, the answer is obviously no, but I’m just curious. I also know already that He Never Will Change despite the fact that He Says He Will Change because He Says the Torah Must Never be Changed. Isn’t that correct? Please include your sources in your reply. Thank you very much. Aug 10, 2021 at 23:21
  • @Chatzkel is studying the subject and or independently/on your own geography and anthropology forbidden in Judaism? Why or why not? Please cite your source(s) accordingly. Thank you very much. Aug 10, 2021 at 23:24
  • if you look at the link to the other similar question you will see many sources and explanations. I specifically like the third one that explains that this prohibition is only if your doing it to do those services and beliefs (either as a different religion, or to merge their practices into your Jewish religious practice), however if your doing it to learn enough to be able to refute then it's permissible. However, it's a dangerous area and you really need to be sure you won't be drawn into it.
    – Chatzkel
    Aug 11, 2021 at 0:38

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Yes, it is ok. We need to understand Christianity in order to refute Christian beliefs, such as the notion that a trinity exists or “original sin.” Indeed, Rambam tells us that he studied the Sabian religion quite rigorously. As an anthropologist, he hoped to better understand Judaism and the reasons for its many commandments. After much study, the Rambam concluded that many commands are directly linked to Sabian idolatry, but that the Torah refines, restricts, or gives new meaning to these practices. For example, the Sabians revered cows as holy animals (no relation to Hinduism) and thus prohibited their slaughter. The Rambam explains:

As for the slaughter of oxen, the majority of idolaters abominated it, as all of them held this species in very great esteem. Hence you will find that up to our time, the Indians do not slaughter oxen, even in countries where other species of animals are slaughtered. (Guide, 3:46)


Here is a good essay about why it is permitted to study foreign theologies.

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