What is the halacha concerning what Jews should do with idolatry and idolaters in the land of Israel (considering that the Torah says in Deuteronomy 7:5 to cleanse the Holy Land from idolatry)?

Additionally, what should be the policy of the government of Israel from a Torah standpoint?


4 Answers 4


Destroy the idols - "pursue avodah zarah and get rid of it from the entire Eretz Yisroel" - Rambam, Hilchos Avodah Zarah 7:2.

Not allow the idolaters to live there - ibid. 10:6.

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    This seems accurate. Don't know why you got downvoted. It doesn't address the issues of application in our modern state where there are competing halachic factors, which was the second half of the question
    – Double AA
    Commented May 11, 2015 at 18:22

As far as what the modern State of Israel should do, this was addressed at length by its first Ashkenazi chief rabbi, Yitzchak Isaac Herzog. Broadly speaking, he felt that in a democratic state there had to be certain tolerance. He allowed selling land to non-Jews, for instance. Broader concerns of avoiding enmity against Jews and concerns of "if the Jews expel the Hindus from Israel, then the Hindus will expel the Jews from India" were factors that he considered.

  • Another consideration: If idolatry is outlawed, then the innocent Hindus and the like who were raised up to do specific rituals, may start doing it purposely and become a meizid. We live in a time where it may be worse to forbid things that people justify as not being a problem, like homosexuality, etc. Commented May 12, 2015 at 3:37
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    Just for the record: Hinduism is a diverse religion and does not always include idolatrous practices (even if they may have idolatrous beliefs); further some of their practices may not be considered idolatrous for goyim (because of the concept of shituf). For example, a big posek told me that if they bow to an idol believing it is a manifestation of God, that is shituf, and not as bad for them as serving "other" gods (many authorities say shituf is allowed for goyim anyway). Commented Jun 29, 2015 at 1:54

Halachically there is a prohibition of providing for Idolators eg. Housing (the Gemara in Avoda Zara (טו. Rambam (ע"ז י-ד) forbids renting to idolators under the prohibition of לא תביא תועבה אל ביתך.

One cannot sell land to an idolator under the prohibition of לא תחנם.

Accordingly, the state of Israel should be prohibited from renting land to any church or other houses of worship for Idolatry.

Years ago there was a big controversy regarding the sale of land to the Mormon church to build a church in Israel. This sparked large protests in opposition.

  • I don't understand why the moderators took down my comment because it didn't fit into their strict definition of what is logical and pertinent to the answer. My comment addressed the concern that people may understand from this answer that all churches are idolatry, when that is a complex and debated issue within Judaism and Christianity as well. Commented May 12, 2015 at 3:48

When there is not a Yovel year, the most a Jew can do is teach the sheva mitzvot and the oneness of God to bnei Noach and to bnei Yisrael, to increase in mitzvot.

The policy for the government should be to try and institute the Yovel year so that gerim toshvim can be accepted. The bigger problem with this, is that the people of government probably wouldn't make a proper halachic beit din.

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