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There seems to be an issue with visiting a house of worship or temple or possibly a cemetery of other religions. Where does that come from and what are the parameters of any interdiction?

Assuming that there is an issue, does it apply to a religion no longer in existence or a place of worship that is no longer functioning as a place of worship but rather as a tourist attraction? (for instance Chichen Itza, the famous Mayan ruins in Mexico).

  • I allowed myself to edit your question for clarity and to make it less personal. I hope to have properly captured the spirit of what you wanted to ask. If not feel free to further edit or ask clarifying questions – mbloch Jan 21 '16 at 18:27
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    dupe? judaism.stackexchange.com/q/43567/759 – Double AA Jan 21 '16 at 19:10
  • @DoubleAA I saw the possible dupe but found this one both broader (beginning) and more specific (at the end) so answered it and linked the other towards the end of my answer – mbloch Jan 21 '16 at 19:13
  • @mbloch How is the second paragraph here not exactly what the other question says? – Double AA Jan 21 '16 at 19:14
  • @DoubleAA it is more specific to a certain site. And the first part asks for things the possible dupe doesn't. But you guys will know better what is a dupe or not. I'm still learning the fine or not so fine lines – mbloch Jan 21 '16 at 19:16
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The laws of visiting houses of worships from other religions come from the Talmudic tractate Avoda Zara (see e.g., 17a) on the laws of idolatry. It is clearly prohibited to enter a house of worship from non-monotheistic religions (Rambam, Peirush ha-Mishnayos, Avodah Zarah 1:3; Shach YD 149:1).

Halachic decisors debate where Christianity (general consensus: forbidden) and Islam (general consensus: permitted) fit. There is no debate regarding idolatry and polytheistic religions (e.g., Hinduism, Buddhism) and it is clearly forbidden to enter their house of worship.

See here, here, here and here for more details and sources.

I do not believe it is forbidden to visit a non-Jewish cemetery. When asked before on MiYodeya, no source was found and I couldn't find a ruling preventing it.

Chichen Itza, the Mayan site you mention, was according to Wikipedia a place where

pre-Columbian Maya sacrificed objects and human beings into the cenote as a form of worship to the Maya rain god Chaac

The question of visiting sites previously used for idol worship but not anymore was asked before on MiYodeya, the consensus answer is that it is permitted if it is no more a religious site. So the answer would depend whether the site is today used as a place of worship or whether any remaining Mayans use it for religious ceremonies.

As always CYLOR for any practical ruling.

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I won't comment as to whether it's assur or muttar (as someone put it above, CYLOR). All I can tell you is that I felt very uncomfortable at Chechen Itza. You could feel the tum'ah. I thought I would be ok avoiding the main temple at the center of the site. But there are depictions of A"Z all over, and you can stumble across a place of A"Z worship without even realizing it. Even the sports field was used for a religious ceremony. It's A"Z of the old form -- including human sacrifice akin to the practices Avraham Avinu opposed.

From what I learned on the trip, there are locals who believe in the Mayan religion even today.

I'm MO and into learning about other cultures, to give you a sense of context for my (non-halakhic) opinion. I wouldn't recommend it to a friend or anyone sensitive on spiritual matters.

  • This seems to be more of a comment than an answer, as it doesn't address the question of whether it is permitted or not. – Alex Mar 12 '18 at 20:59
  • I'm not a posek so I won't try to answer the question. I can however supply relevant information of facts on the ground so someone else can respond more fully. Note the first answer above only cites a Wikipedia article as to Chechen Itza. A future commentator -- or community rav researching the issue -- might find the additional, real-world observations helpful. – Srugi1 Mar 12 '18 at 21:23
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    If you're not trying to answer the question then it's not an answer. You don't need to be a posek to answer questions; in fact questions asking for specific rulings are usually closed. You can answer a question about halacha by providing relevant halachic information and by citing halachic sources. The other answer does address the question by discussing the actual halachic aspect; the Wikipedia article is cited to establish the metzius, which is fine. – Alex Mar 12 '18 at 21:59
  • If you want to supply relevant information that does not answer the question, you can leave a comment on the question. However, you need to earn 50 reputation in order to comment on other peoples' posts. – Alex Mar 12 '18 at 22:01
  • The question involves the situation of is this particular avodas zarah batel (nullified) because the goyim (who worship other idols) consider it nullified. Similarly, would the fact that they are in ruins make these idols invalid? See the gemarah avodas zarah which discusses these issues. – sabbahillel Mar 12 '18 at 23:49

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