Is it permitted for a Jew to buy animal sculptures for decoration purposes.


1 Answer 1


Yes it is possible following some rules.

To make is allowed, and to buy when you are sure that the provenance has nothing to do with worship. But if the provenance is from idolatry, obviously it is prohibited (E.g. old statues which was for worship).

Regarding artwork, see Shulchan Aruch Yore Dea 141, 4 for prohibited things. Forms of animals are allowed, see 141, 6.

Here we will examine the problem of sculptures of animals. The Shulchan Aruch Yore Dea and the Baer Hetev commentary wrote (141, 6):

צוּרוֹת בְּהֵמוֹת, חַיּוֹת וְעוֹפוֹת וְדָגִים, וְצוּרוֹת אִילָנוֹת וּדְשָׁאִים וְכַיּוֹצֵא בָהֶם, מֻתָּר (כג) לָצוּר אוֹתָם, וַאֲפִלּוּ הָיְתָה הַצּוּרַת בּוֹלֶטֶת. ‏

באר היטב (כג) לצור. וכ''ש להשהותם וכ' ב''י בשם רבינו אליקים דאין לצור בבהכ''נ צורות אלו שלא יהא נראה כמשתחוה להם והש''ך כתב דהב''ח בקו''א אוסר בצורת אריה ושור. וטענתו דהמזלות במדור התחתון הם וצורת אריה ושור עומד כ''א לבדו בחודש אב ואייר עכ''ד ולפ''ז כל הי''ב מזלות אסור לעשות אפילו כל א' בפ''ע וזה לא שמענו מעולם מי שנזהר בזה. הלכך נראה דהא דאמרינן דהמזלות אסורים היינו כל הי''ב ביחד דומיא דד' פנים להדדי והט''ז כתב דאותן שמצירים במחזורים בתפלת גשם צורת המזלות לא יפה הם עושים כיון שמכונים לעשות צורת המזלות (ובנה''כ השיג עליו וכתב דהדבר פשוט דהוי להבין ולהורות ועוד דאינו צורה גמורה): ‏

Forms of domestic, wild animals, birds and fishes, forms of trees and vegetables or something like are allowed to design (to make the form) in relief.

Here is a partial and rough translation of the Baer Hetev: The Bet Yossef wrote in name of Rabenu Elyalkim that such form do not be placed in synagogue, for people not to get the impression that they prostrate themselves to the statues. The Shach reported that the Bach prohibited to make forms of Leo and Bull. The reason is that there are constellations with form of Leo and Bull (zodiac signs); Leo form is linked to the month of Av, and Bull to the month of Yiar. It appears that, following the Bach, each of the 12 constellations can not be reproduced. But we never heard anybody which is careful not to do this. There is however a prohibition when all 12 constellation are designed together. This is similar to representation of the 4 faces together (Ezekiel 1, 5-6: And out of the midst thereof came the likeness of four living creatures. And this was their appearance: they had the likeness of a man. And every one had four faces, and every one of them had four wings.)

See here and here the psakim of Rambam and Shach.

  • Rav Moshe discusses this question, using the sources you cited among others, in vol. 5 Yoreh De'a #55, where he concludes that it's OK to have little statues or pictures of eagles that are common on United States insignia, as long as they (and things like them) are not conventionally being worshipped by others.
    – WAF
    Jan 12, 2017 at 3:05

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