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It is forbidden for Jews to benefit from anything used for avodah zarah (idol worship). (Rambam Hilchot Avodah Zarah 7:2) In halacha #4 there, he gives the rules for when something becomes classified as avodah zarah:

  • An idol belonging to a non-Jew immediately becomes forbidden
  • An idol belonging to a Jew doesn't become forbidden until he worships it
  • Other items used in the service don't become forbidden until they are used for idol worship

What if a non-Jew takes something belonging to a Jew, and uses it for idol worship (whether an idol itself or things to be used in the service), against the Jew's wishes? Does it then become forbidden to the Jew?

What about if the Jew and idolater jointly own something (let's say a building) and the idolater uses it for idol worship (still against the Jew's wishes)? Even if we say in the previous case (and i have no idea if we do or don't) that he can't forbid it to the Jew because it isn't his, here the idolater does have partial ownership of the item.

The purpose of this question is the current struggle to keep the status quo at King David's tomb. If the Christians essentially take over the complex, some are saying that this will give it the status of a church, which is forbidden to Jews. Hence the question: if they take and regularly use the building (against the wishes of the Jews who are there), does that make it forbidden?

  • In general, אין אדם אוסר דבר שאינו שלו – wfb Jun 2 '15 at 15:12

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