Are there sources that discuss whether Zoroastrianism is considered to be Avodah Zarah?

(Note: I am mainly interested in seeing Jewish sources that discuss Zoroastrianism. Answers that just discuss the tenets of Zoroastrianism without citing Jewish sources are off-topic.)

  • 3
    The religion is not Judaism. Can you give any indication why you might think it is not Avoda Zara??
    – Double AA
    Jan 5, 2014 at 21:52
  • 1
    If you believe that somethings exists but don't worship it, is that avoda zarah? Because Maimonides' 1st principle states that Gd created and controls everything, which would include things that are or cause evil. So Its definitely Herecy as far as Judaism is concerned, not sure about avoda zarah since you don't seem to be worshiping the 'evil' that you believe didn't come from Gd.
    – Baby Seal
    Jan 6, 2014 at 1:02
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    Just to be clear, you are asking whether Zoroastrianism is avoda zara FOR non-Jews, correct?
    – WAF
    Jan 6, 2014 at 1:15
  • @WAF If its status as avoda zara depends on who is practicing it, I'd like to know.
    – user3318
    Jan 6, 2014 at 2:59
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    It is definitely avoda zara for Jews. It is not avodas Hashem (which is defined by the Torah). QED
    – WAF
    Jan 6, 2014 at 12:24

2 Answers 2


The rabbis of the Talmud were certainly aware of Zoroastianism. You'll find references to fringe groups who believed in "שתי רשויות", "two domains"; effectively, one deity in charge of good things, and a different one in charge of bad things. That's why the mishna says that a chazan whose text is "Modim, Modim" should be immediately removed: if you lived in the Middle East around the year 150, that was a good sign you believed in two different deities to thank.

Isaiah writes that God "fashions light and creates dark, makes peace and creates evil." This dichotomy features heavily in Zoroastrianism, and thus in response our prayer texts say instead: "makes peace and creates all", stressing that everything comes from one God.

Quite frankly I would assume that we would treat it as avoda zara, at least from our standpoint (e.g. something used in their worship would be prohibited from our benefit). It was very common in the times of the mishna yet we don't find the mishna offering any distinction between flavors of non-Jewish worship at the time; what's more the mishna Shabbos 2:5 speaks of heathens who won't let you have your shabbos candles lit; R' Ovadya miBartenura comments: "because of idolaters -- there were Persians who, on their religious holidays, would ban all flames unless lit within their temples." I'm told that was the Zoroastrians. (Or at least early ancestors.)

  • Shmuel had a good friend named Shapur 1 a prolific zoroastrian. Shmuel's contemporary Rav was the first to adress the situation of chaveirim taking away Jewish fire, see shabbos 45a. All of this does nothing to prove that they actually believed in dualism. It is contested still amongst historians what they actually believed and at what point. Even if Rashi calls them ovdei elilim, as quoted in tge Bartenura that doesn't prove what they believed at the time of chazzal.
    – user6591
    Jan 13, 2015 at 18:09
  • Consider all the times the gemara mentions the horrible amgushi. I would say this is the maji class, vilified as introducing true dualism into that religion. Rashi simply explains them as magicians. There's alot of info missing.
    – user6591
    Jan 13, 2015 at 18:09

Although originally a question, I turned this into an answer because I think it is more useful here.

Zoroaster, the prophet said there was One G-d, Ahura Mazdah—in Greek, the Wise Lord. Zoroastrianism felt that there was only one god. Yet some Parsis feel that the Wise Lord's twin brother Ahriman, who is evil, exists. They were both created simultaneously.

At the beginning of creation, there was only infinite time but the Wise Lord set a trap by creating the time of the long dominion within infinite time. The human timeline is encased within the time of the long dominion. When this ends the Wise Lord will defeat his twin and light will burn away the darkness. They say the Wise Lord had no choice in the matter. Thus, they answered that eventually, the Wise Lord will overwhelm evil, and all souls will be as one.

Thus, it seems that Zoroastrianism is closer to dualism than monotheism, in my view. There was a notion of a dual deity, however, many Zoroastrians insist that they are really monotheists.

  • OP is specifically interested in Zoroastrianism's status in Halachah. To quote OP: I am mainly interested in seeing Jewish sources that discuss Zoroastrianism. Answers that just discuss the tenets of Zoroastrianism without citing Jewish sources are off-topic.
    – Yehuda
    Jan 8, 2021 at 15:20

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