What is the Jewish doctrinal difference between an Idol housed in a temple and a grave housed in Mausoleum or Shrine with all or some of the following activities carried out by the visitors in both the cases towards the Object (Grave or Idol):

The Visitors:

  1. believe in one God of Moses and consider the Object or the dedicated person to be near to God.

  2. revere the Object with clothes, flowers, incense, golden artifacts and enclosures to glorify it.

  3. read some mantras from their religious scriptures in the vicinity of the Object.


Just clarified my question, stating further assumptions:

  1. Visitors believe that the object does NOT have power of its own in the same way a Hindu idol worshiper does not believe the idol to have any intrinsic power and is mere a center of focus

Visitors occasionally would also invoke the Object not necessarily at that place.

This question is based on my assumptions that Jewish texts allow constructions of buildings and shrines \ Tombs over the graves of pious people, if it does not allow then question would be re-framed.

  • 1
    What does "invoke the Object" even mean?
    – Ariel
    Commented Feb 10, 2013 at 22:50
  • 1
    e.g saying "O Moses help us"
    – knowit
    Commented Feb 11, 2013 at 4:58
  • Moses is not an object, Moses was a person. It is strictly forbidden to pray to another person (and certainly forbidden to pray to an object). It is however permitted to ask the person (deceased or alive) to pray to God on ones behalf. I don't know if this answers your question.
    – Ariel
    Commented Feb 11, 2013 at 5:22
  • So it would be forbidden to say "O Moses help us", but permitted to say "O Moses, please pray to God that he would help us". (But in general Jews do not do that, Jews direct prayer directly to God, no intermediary is necessary or desired.)
    – Ariel
    Commented Feb 11, 2013 at 5:25
  • 1
    So Can moses hear you as he is dead?
    – knowit
    Commented Feb 11, 2013 at 6:27

1 Answer 1


Your question assumes that Jews consider the object to be near God.

They don't. The soul of the buried person might be, or the object might be near a holy site, but the object itself has no power. (And the site is holy not for itself, but for the activities that took place there.)

There is a difference between respecting an object (for example Tefillin - Phylacteries) and considering that object to be "near God" as it were.

An object might be used in the worship of God, but the object itself is never the focus - God is.

God said to use an object in a certain way (for example a Lulav - palm frond), so we do. But that's as far as it goes, the object is important only because God said for us to use it in a certain way, the object for itself has no significance.

Sometimes an object has the name of God written in it (like a Mezuza, scroll) that is placed on the door. In that case it's the name of God that makes the object holy, not the object itself.

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