Given the prohibition on entering a place of idol worship (Rambam, Peirush ha-Mishnayos, Avodah Zarah 1:3), when, if ever, is one permitted to visit a historical site that has been used as a place of idol worship in the past if it's no longer used as such?

Potentially relevant factors might be the extent to which the site is preserved (e.g. a fully standing church vs. the ruins of one) or the existence of religious symbols associated with idolatry (e.g. a pagan temple with statues of pagan gods vs. a place like Stonehenge which, while thought to have been used for religious purposes, bears no obvious indications of it)?

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    Note there is a blessing to be recited over destroyed places of idol worship. (OC 224:2 IIRC)
    – Double AA
    Commented May 28, 2014 at 22:07
  • 2
    Sources would be wonderful.
    – Shmuel
    Commented May 28, 2014 at 22:25
  • See similar judaism.stackexchange.com/a/37802/5488
    – user5488
    Commented May 28, 2014 at 22:34
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    Wasn't the Temple previously (bimei matityahu) used for idol worship? Commented Jan 14, 2015 at 18:35

3 Answers 3


I heard quoted from Rabbi Moshe Stav (a rebbe in Eretz Yisrael) that you can go in if they don't treat it as a place of reverence anymore. He gave the advice to wear a baseball cap, and if they ask you to remove it, then you can't go in, but if they let you go in with a baseball cap, then they don't treat it as a place of reverence anymore.


An Idol once worshiped continues to remain as an Idol till it is decimated. Humans,Moon are not Idols but plausible candidates for objects of Idolatry, only Idols are commanded to be destroyed e.g pagan Idols, crosses etc. Hence Idolatrous site which showcase the legacy of idolatry as if it is something to showcase then visiting such a place is sin.

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    Welcome to Mi Yodea. Your answer would be more useful if it quoted sources (and used conventional rules of grammar). Commented Jul 15, 2015 at 10:58
  • Also part of the money you pay for the visit in a lot of these places is used to restore it
    – hazoriz
    Commented Jul 16, 2015 at 2:50

This is in a Mishna in Avoda Zarah 47b Shlosha batim hein, see also the Mishna 41a Hamotzei Shivrei Tzlamim. One can assume that once they were destroyed the Ovdei Avoda Zara were 'Mevatel' them.

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    What if the idol was not destroyed, but the ovdei A"Z were? Commented Jan 14, 2015 at 18:32
  • @CharlesKoppelman i dont understand your question Commented Jan 21, 2015 at 18:18
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    This only answers part of the question - if the idol were in ruins. What if, for instance, the idol is well-preserved, but the religion that considers that idol holy has no more adherents? Commented Jan 21, 2015 at 21:15
  • @CharlesKoppelman The gemara addresses the method of being mevatel an A"Z - non-jews can invalidate anything but a Jewish instituted A"Z. If the religion has no adherents, than the object no longer is considered "holy" by anyone and therefore wouldn't be classified as A"Z. Commented Jul 16, 2015 at 15:22

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