56

It is commonly accepted that Islam is not Avodah Zarah (idolatry) since Islam has a clear monotheistic theology with a belief in Allah that parallels our view of "kail" or Hashem. It is even permissible for Jews to enter and pray (Jewish prayer) in a mosque. The views of Christianity and their Trinity are more clouded. Entering a Church is a questionable act. Do we group Christians as one? Would we paskun differently for Catholicism vs Protestantism?

I know there are opinions on both sides. Are those who say that Christianity is Avodah Zara just not being open-minded enough to their explanation of how the Trinity equals monotheism? Are those who say it's not Avodah Zara just looking to appease the Christian majority in the countries where they live?

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    Just for clarification, practicing any religion that is not Judaism constitutes "foreign worship" for Jews. The question here is limited to defining permissible and forbidden practices for non-Jews. The ramifications include whether a Jew may contribute monetarily, benefit from, or possibly even encourage those practices.
    – WAF
    Dec 22, 2009 at 23:33
  • see this question as well: judaism.stackexchange.com/questions/6004/…
    – Menachem
    Jun 28, 2011 at 18:07
  • 3
    "Would we paskun differently for Catholicism vs Protestantism?" It's probably worth clarifying that "Protestantism" is by no means a unified belief system. (Also, Anglo-Catholics, known also as Anglicans, are not in communion with the Bishop of Rome (the Pope). It gets a bit confusing.)
    – TRiG
    Jun 23, 2012 at 21:36
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    Trinity might not be the only problem, as Christianity is dualistic in the sense that שָּׂטָן ‎is presented as an evil half god in book of Revelation.
    – Ben
    Apr 7, 2016 at 8:46
  • 2
    @Ben If you are still active around here and see this, could you please provide an explanation about what you mean? Where in the book of Revelation does it say "evil half god"? Or if not those words precisely, where is the section you are paraphrasing?
    – Aaron
    Nov 20, 2018 at 0:15

21 Answers 21

40

In Jewish law, the idea of the Trinity falls under the catchall term of "shittuf" - worshipping G-d along with some other being.

Shittuf is prohibited for Jews. This means that a Jew would be prohibited to acknowledge the Christian savior as part of the G-dhead, or to participate in Christian worship, even at the cost of his or her life.

There is a dispute among the posekim as to whether shittuf is permitted to non-Jews. (This has ramifications, for example, concerning the laws of yayin nesech, doing business with them on their holidays, etc.). The Rambam (Laws of Idolatry 9:4) states that Christians are considered idolaters under Jewish law - i.e., according to him, shittuf is not a Jewishly acceptable belief for non-Jews either. The Meiri, on the other hand (commentary to Avodah Zarah 2b and 6b), says that present-day Christianity is not considered idol worship, and the Rema (Darchei Moshe 2 to Orach Chayim 156) spells out that shittuf is permitted for them.

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    Welcome to mi.yodeya! Thank you very much, too, for tackling this sensitive topic. You could make your post even better by editing it to include citations of your sources.
    – Isaac Moses
    Dec 30, 2009 at 18:46
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    Although non-Jews are permitted (according to some authorities) to worship "b'shittuf", this is where the actual worship is directed towards all of the Gods. If a non-Jew believes in the existence of all 3, but today he worships (e.g. prays to) just one of them, he is guilty of A"Z. In other words, it is prohibited for a non-Jew to pray to Jesus for anything, even if he believes that Jesus constitututes just 1/3rd of the full God (or however that should be phrased, I'm wording this loosely just to capture my point).
    – Barry
    Jun 18, 2010 at 14:45
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    see my comment where I bring a the Nodeh Be'Yehuda, who says that even the Remah holds that Shituf is forbidden to Non-Jews: judaism.stackexchange.com/questions/6004/…
    – Menachem
    Jun 28, 2011 at 18:09
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    It would seem fairly clear to most that worshiping any person or thing, living or dead, as a god or as G-d would be assur. From my experience, it's much more than just worshiping G-d along with another being, it's worshiping that other being as G-d. (I have a bit of experience, being a former Christian.) Nov 17, 2011 at 2:22
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    Alex, can you source that the doctrine of the Trinity is an instance of Shittuf?
    – Double AA
    Jan 6, 2013 at 2:26
29

The Talmud, in discussing whether the practice of refraining from engaging in business with worshipers of Avoda Zara (lest they offer thanks to their Avoda Zara) three days prior to (and according to R Yishmael also: following) their holidays (cf. Mishna AZ 1:1) includes the day of the holiday itself in the count of three days, states (AZ 6a and 7b):

אמר רב תחליפא בר אבדימי אמר שמואל: יום א' לדברי רבי ישמעאל לעולם אסור
R Tachlifa bar Avdimi said in the name of Shemuel: the first day [of the week] is always forbidden according to the opinion of R Yishmael.

However, the uncensored version states:

אמר רב תחליפא בר אבדימי אמר שמואל: נוצרי לדברי רבי ישמעאל לעולם אסור
R Tachlifa bar Avdimi said in the name of Shemuel: Christians [lit. נ[ו]צרי Nazarenes] are always forbidden according to the opinion of R Yishmael.

[Not only is the uncensored version upheld by manuscripts (see below), it also flows better in the Talmud, which goes on to ask:

ואי ס"ד הן ואידיהן, האיכא ארבעה וחמשה דשרי!‏
If you think [the day itself is included in the count of three days] then the fourth and fifth [days of the week] should be permitted!

The Talmud is clearly understanding Shemuel's statement as forbidding all the days of the week, a read borne out by the uncensored text (which still ends up counting days from Sunday). (One could reread this into the censored text, by understanding לעולם to refer to the whole week, with the claim being that the whole week is forbidden because of the aforementioned holiday on the first of the week (such indeed is Soncino's rendering). This sounds unnecessarily forced IMHO.)]

The Meiri (Ta'anit 27b) is clear that he had the uncensored text in front of him, though he understands נוצרי to refer to the people mentioned in Jeremiah 4:16. This explanation is troubling because I haven't found anyone else (after checking Rashi, Radak and both Metzudot) who understands נצרים in that verse as a nationality as opposed to a job description, and secondly it seems odd for Shemuel (~750 years after Jeremiah) to reference such an obscure people who may not even have been around anymore. (See Christians, Noṣerim, and Nebuchadnezzar's Daughter Lawrence Zalcman, The Jewish Quarterly Review, New Series, Vol. 81, No. 3/4 (Jan. - Apr., 1991), pp. 411-426 who identifies the Meiri's group as the Mandaeans.)

Screenshots of manuscripts:

french

jts

munich

It's interesting to note while this censorship is not noted in Mesoret haShas in the classic 1880 Vilna edition of the Talmud (link), it is mentioned in the new 'redone' Mesoret haShas in the 2008 Neharda' edition of the Talmud (link, note 3).

Additionally the new Mesoret haShas brings a variant of Rashi to the censored sv. יום א'‏ which accords with the uncensored text of the Talmud, and takes a clear stance against the Meiri's understanding of the word:

נוצרי: ההולך בטעותו של אותו האיש שצוה להם לעשות להם יום איד בא׳ בשבת.‏
A Christian: who follows in the mistake of that man [a common euphemism for Jesus] who commanded them to make themselves a holiday on the first day of the week.

This variant is attested to by Dikdukei Soferim and in a manuscript:

munich with rashi

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  • Radak on Jer 4:16 understands נצרים as being named after נבוכדנצר, which can accord with Meiri's view (although there's still a non-trivial step from Radak to Meiri).
    – magicker72
    Apr 29 at 15:49
  • Is the Artscroll Schottenstein english Talmud considered censored? I was aware certain Kabbalah translations are censored but I didn't know the modern editions of the Talmud were also. I knew Christian censors in centuries past would ban or censor, but I thought in 2022 at least in the west, things are more free and we can read the full texts without censorship. May 6 at 8:43
  • @ShipBuilding by convention, [nearly] all modern editions of the Talmud, including Artscroll, copy the layout of the late 19th century Vilna edition, including it's various errors and censorships. Many nowadays do include corrections and such in marginal notes. This convention has its plusses and minuses, but it is what it is and there's nothing you or I can do about it anyway.
    – Double AA
    May 8 at 2:07
21

One: the Rema does not rule that goyim are permitted shituf, but merely rules that for them swearing in the the name of a shituf is not an act of avodah zarah (as only Jews are prohibitted from swearing in anything but HaShem's name). As explained in the Nodah Beyahudah, Yoreh Deah 148: "The intention of the Tosefos and the Rama is that combining the Name of Heaven with something else in an oath does not constitute the actual worship of idolatry; rather he is combining the Name of Heaven with something else, but he is not calling in the name of Elokim and he is not saying 'you are my g-d.' Instead, he is merely mentioning him in his oath with the Name of Heaven in a manner of honor, regarding which we find a prohibition upon Israel, as it is written 'and in His Name shall you swear'; this is a warning to Israel not to swear except in His Name (blessed be He) and not to combine the Name of Heaven and something else, as the Rambam wrote in 11:2 of Hilchos Shevuos —and the gentiles are not warned regarding this shittuf. However, regarding the service of avoda zarah with shittuf, there is no difference between a Jew and a gentile!

Two: The Meiri ruled that because it did not engage in the degenerate immorality generally associated with avodah zarah, christianity must be a corrupted form of Judaism. This is a conclusion he reaches without consideration of the actual beliefs of christianity and determing whether or not those beliefs contitute avodah zara. Meaning no disrespect, c"v, I would seriously dispute the Meiri's reasoning and submit that the opposite is true: that christianinty is a "Judaized" form of idolatry.

Three: In more modern times, various gedolei hador have ruled that christianity is avodah zarah. In 1964, Rav Soleveichik zt"l ruled that, despite Vatican II, it was still forbidden to teach Torah to christians. He further forbade teaching them how to learn Torah or even to teach them lashon hakodesh. As it is prohibitted to teach idolators Torah, This can only mean that he considered them ovdei avodah zara: there is not other reasonable explanation.

Rav Moshe Feinstein zt"l ruled at least twice that christians were idolators: he ruled that if one is in the middle of a shiur and a christian walks in, even though it is forbidden to teach them Torah, it is not neccessary to interrupt the shiur. As above, the only reason it would be forbidden to teach christians Torah would be if they were idolators; he also wrote a teshuva to a shailah whether it was permitted to teach a class to a group of reform children (since some of them would obviously be gentiles) that it was permitted because since those children attended a reform "temple" it was unlikely that they were idolators and that the need to teach Jewish children the Emess outweighed the (in this case) unlikely violation of the prohibition against teaching idolators. I can't imagine that Reb Moshe was concerned about an Indianapolis "temple" being overrun by, say, buddhist or hindu children. Clearly he considered christians to be ovdei avodah zara.

More recently, within the past few years, Maran HaRav Yosef Sholom Eliyashiv zt"l has ruled on at least two seperate occasions, in very clear language, that christianity is avodah zara: A Jew planning a trip to Israel was asked by a christain bussiness associate if he would pray for him in Jeruslam. He wrote a shailah to Rav Eliyashiv to ask if this was permitted. Rav Eliyashiv respponded with one sentence: it is prohibiited to pray for an idolator. He also ruled that it was forbidden for Mosdos to accept money from the "International Fellowship of christians and Jews" (an organization almost entirely funded by christian churches) under the prohibition of accepting tzedaka from idolators.

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    TorasMosheEmess, welcome to the site and thank you for the well-written and informative answer. Citations to sources would make it even more valuable. You may also wish to register your username: this will give you a better site experience.
    – msh210
    Nov 17, 2011 at 17:40
  • 1
    You use "A Jew… asked by a christain… if he would pray for him… wrote… to Rav Eliyashiv to ask if this was permitted. Rav Eliyashiv respponded with one sentence: it is prohibiited to pray for an idolator." as proof R' Elyashiv "has ruled… in very clear language, that christianity is avodah zara"? Sounds to me like he's saying "it's forbidden if Christianity is avoda zara".
    – msh210
    Jun 24, 2012 at 18:16
  • 1
    @msh210 So you think Rav Elyashiv thinks it's a safek? Do you have any basis for that?
    – Double AA
    Jun 27, 2012 at 17:03
  • @DoubleAA, I have only what he's quoted as saying to go by. I was commenting only that that's not "very clear language, that christianity is avodah zara".
    – msh210
    Jun 27, 2012 at 17:51
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    Have a look though at Darkei Moshe YD 151 and Pitchei Teshuva YD 147
    – Double AA
    Jan 20, 2013 at 16:44
18

In the original version of the Rambam in Sefer Qedusha, Hilkhot Maakhalot Asurot 11:7 (compare the censored version and the uncensored version) he rules that xian are idol worshipers.

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13
+50

I have much experience with Christianity in its many forms and denominations. I can tell you absolutely that their beliefs are not uniform throughout the denominations. One may worship Yushka as the physical incarnation of G-d (outright Idolatry) and another may pray to him as the son of G-d (arguably Shituf). The point that they don't actually believe in what they are doing is also not uniform as some believe 100% and are willing to sacrifice their lives for their beliefs while others hold it all lightly. The trinity is a very complex idea believing that "the one God exists in three Persons and one substance."(G-d forbid). This is not three faces of one but each unit is equally the whole perhaps like a three headed hydra. It is part of Judaism to know as Rambam did the nature of other religions and how to properly interact with their proponents.

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    Yehudah, Welcome to mi.yodeya, and thanks very much for sharing your perspective! Please consider clicking "register," above, to create your account. This will allow you to access all of mi.yodeya's features and to take full credit for your contributions.
    – Isaac Moses
    Jun 17, 2010 at 5:10
  • 2
    What about kaballah that says that sephirot has 7 branch?
    – user4951
    Nov 15, 2011 at 4:52
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    @JimThio Sefirot are not G-d.
    – HodofHod
    Nov 16, 2011 at 6:56
  • 2
    @JimThio the sefirot were created by G-d, and are thus His creations, not Him, though they reveal much about his essence in the way l'havdil a beautiful landscape might. Nov 17, 2011 at 2:24
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    I remember explaining to my 94-year-old great aunt -- a true southern belle and devout Methodist -- about why I left Christianity and became a Jew. I said that the Trinity was in conflict with the concept that G-d is One. She said, "I never quite understood that, either." Feb 7, 2013 at 16:47
10

I just heard a great lecture on this subject on YUTorah.org: The Halachic Status of Christianity and its Legal Consequences, by Rabbi Josh Blass.

I don't have the Meiri in front of me, but it was my understanding that he held that "nowadays", Christianity is not A"Z because they don't really take it seriously, which would also hold true to adolescents playing around with sorcery and the like — they don't really believe in the idolatry of it. Regardless of what Christians actually believe, this is an important point for halakhic discourse in general: times change, and so does reality, and halakha reflects this. So even in the Rambam thought Christianity was A"Z, he might think otherwise if he were alive today.

And in passing, do all branches of Christianity believe in the Trinity, or is that specific to Catholicism?

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    Almost all branches of Christianity believe in the Trinity. (My religious background is one of the few branches that doesn't, and is often regarded as non-Christian by others.) Jehovah's Witnesses, Christadelphians, Mormons, Arians, and some Gnostics reject the Trinity. The vast majority of Christians accept it (in theory, anyway: I've spoken to a few Catholics who don't really have any idea what the Trinity even is).
    – TRiG
    Aug 5, 2011 at 21:11
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    I thought that the Meiri's ruling that Christians don't really take it seriously only applied to lay-people. Priests (ie, experts in their religion) do take it very seriously and would, therefore, come under the geder of avdei avodah zara.
    – Shemmy
    Jun 24, 2012 at 11:11
  • 7
    Unitarians are another Christian sect which does not believe in the trinity. Of course non-trinitarian does not necessarily imply not A"Z. Mormon beliefs are non-trinitarian from the point of view of Nicene Christianity, but in ways that appear to make it more clearly A"Z rather than less. Jun 24, 2012 at 18:38
  • I am a non-practicing Catholic and in general, Catholics believe in the Trinity. I have attended services in Methodist, Lutheran and Disciples of Christ and I, personally, haven't heard the Trinity mentioned. I cannot speak for my Christian brethen, but - personally - I don't believe it in. There is one G-d and that's it. I believe that Jesus is His son and the Holy Spirit works for Him, but neither of them are G-d. Now, I usually pray only to G-d, but in times I've trouble, I've been known to pray to Jesus, the Virgin Mary and a dead uncle. But, I don't worship them, like I worship G-d.
    – DataGirl
    Mar 27, 2013 at 16:38
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    Christian here. To answer your last question, virtually all Christians believe in the divinity of the Messiah, which necessitates a theology like the trinity or something like it. This is because the gospels and Paul's letters in the New Testament affirm the elevated status of Messiah. Interestingly, the Orthodox Jewish scholar and talmudist, Daniel Boyarin, writes in his book, the Jewish Gospels, that the idea of a divine messiah was not foreign to 1st century Judaisms. thejc.com/judaism/judaism-features/106271/… Sep 30, 2013 at 17:59
6

Inferring polytheism based on the Holy Trinity is a wildly literal interpretation of the concept and totally misses the point. Few Christians think it implies more then one God. In fact, I have never even heard this discussed as a possibility. Not that I'm a theologist or even overly religious, but I think this smacks of nitpicking.

Of course, I have no idea what basis the Jewish community uses to categorize such things, so I'm just giving an unaffiliated protestant opinion.

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    Sean R, Thank you very much for bringing an important insider's perspective to this conversation. Please consider clicking on "register," above, to create an account. This will give you access to all of mi.yodeya's features and will allow you to take full credit for your contributions.
    – Isaac Moses
    Mar 19, 2010 at 2:30
  • 4
    The doctrine of the Trinity means [at very least] that the Nazarene is identified as divine. Insofar as a Christian is asserting that G-d is G-d, and that so is the Nazarene, they are asserting that two different entities are divine. Whether or not they believe these two entities are one, they are not and to worship both is to worship two different "beings" as G-d. I state this matter of factly not to flippantly dismiss your beliefs, but just in recognition that this is a Jewish site where Jewish beliefs are [at least somewhat] presumed
    – Yirmeyahu
    May 7, 2010 at 6:18
  • 1
    Trinity has many different senses and branches, each calling each other heretic. Not sure about the killing that follow (got to check history) given that most laymen don't get it enough to lift their sword to split the difference. But then again, what about kabbalahmadeeasy.com/…
    – user4951
    Nov 16, 2011 at 9:34
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    @Adam Mosheh, No, a proper translation insofar as our discussion would be concerned would be "godly". To use this notion/term as any sort of support for the Trinity is simply equivocation.
    – Yirmeyahu
    Jun 27, 2012 at 23:07
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    Your answer is more of a comment. As a former Christian, I must say it is not "nit-picking" to infer a polytheistic basis behind the Trinity. The concepts of a god fathering a child or visiting earth in human form is little different than the mythology of the Greeks and Romans described in Hamilton's Mythology. Also, the story of Yeshu is very similar to that of the demi-god Attis, who had a big following in Rome and the territories near present-day Syria. See Frazier, The Golden Bough. The Trinity concept was invented to assimilate popular mythology with the Jewish concept of G-d and Messiah. Feb 7, 2013 at 17:02
5

Compare Christian theology with Christian observances As a convert to Judaism, intellectually I have to agree with the sources cited that stated that Christianity is idolatry. In fact, I would add that the belief that some, but not all Christians hold, in a Satan independent of God, who manages all that is evil in the world in conflict with God, is also avodah zara in my humble opinion. But I find it also true that the 200+ variations of Christian denominations, and among the members of each denomination, there is a huge variety of opinion and disagreement on fundamental principles Christianity supposedly teaches in the Bible. Biblical illiteracy explains this to a great degree. If you asked all Christians to list everyone they believe were "true Christians" I suspect that the few names in common would be just enough to play a game of canasta.

Nevertheless, I think within Judaism there is great disagreement as to whether Christianity is avodah zara, and more specifically whether Christians themselves can be considered idolators.

Praying for a Christian When my father was ill and dying, I asked my Rav -- then Rabbi Gedaliah Anemer, zt'l, R"Y of the Yeshiva of Greater Washington, Rav of Young Israel Shomrai Emunah in Silver Spring, Maryland, and the posek ha'ir of the Washington, D.C. area, whether I could add my father's name in the refuah section of the Amidah. He said, "no, but there is no reason why you can't pray for him separately." (My own thought, if we can pray for the welfare of a Christian President, or in England, the Queen of England -- who is also the official head of that nation's church, then there is no broad prohibition on praying for a Christian.)

Christmas sales After his death, I asked Rabbi Anemer's student and successor at YISE, Rabbi Dovid Rosenbaum, shilta, that given the prohibitions of doing business with idolaters before their holidays, I wondered how the rabbis have accepted the practice among Jewish merchants to heavily advertise their wares to Christians during the Christmas season. His response was that it is not clear that Christians are idolaters, and he agreed that if they were, Jewish merchants would certainly be prohibited from having Christmas sales.

5

As a graduate of a catholic school I would like to elaborate on some fundamentals. Setting aside obvious acts of avodah zara such as worshiping statues, here are some christian concepts that blatantly violate the Rambam's 13 Principles of Faith:

  • Adding intermediaries between men and G-d: "Through jesus christ our l-rd" "through His mother Mary" are common phrases in Protestant and Catholic prayers, depending on the stream of faith. This cannot be consistent with the prohibition of having other gods "before" Hashem. Indeed, in the gospel it is claimed that only through jesus can one go to the father ("I am the gate", etc). As R Aryeh Kaplan explains in his Anthology, the placing such intermediaries is what "having other gods before Me" can be interpreted as.
  • The trinity is commonly (especially in Catholicism) claimed to be a "mystery" that we cannot understand, and thus not in violation of the oneness of Hashem. However, the gospels about jesus dictate that jesus was a spin-off human. The claims of the unity of their G-d are, in my understanding from 10 years of experience studying about the catholics, essentially a fall-back so that the concept of the trinity does not crumble when you argue to them that Hashem should be one. This is one of the times when one must understand that sheker/falsity is more dangerous when it has partially true appearances.
  • It is highly problematic that jesus is put to be a human, the messiah and the son of G-d while also G-d himself. Let us set aside the problems with claiming jesus as the messiah for this post (it violates the prophecies in various aspects, as R Aryeh Kaplan also explains in his Anthology). The idea that Hashem Himself who is Ein Sof is reduced as a human contradicts both the "Oneness" of Hashem and that He cannot be reduced to a "body".

I highly recommend anyone exploring this topic to refer to Aryeh Kaplan's highly logical works that have an accurate understanding of christianity, the Anthology for detailed analysis, and the Maimonides Principles (which includes questions regarding islam and christianity) for a quick idea.

3

Regardless of whether there is any implied 'cohesion' or oneness of the elements of the so-called "trinity," the fact remains that they are 1) three distinct 'beings', and 2) that one of these beings has a human form, is a human body, etc. Therefore, that is clearly avodah zara. Worshipping a human being is the same as worshipping G-d in any other idolatrous form. G-d has no form. Worshipping any form whatsoever is idolatry.

5
  • jeff rez, Welcome to mi.yodeya, and thanks very much for sharing your perspective on this! We'd love to have you as a fully-registered member, which you can accomplish here: mi.yodeya.com/users/login
    – Isaac Moses
    Apr 1, 2011 at 4:23
  • Jeff is there any jewish commentary that claim that God doesn't have human form before Plato? This should be another question. Maybe it belongs to history stack.
    – user4951
    Nov 16, 2011 at 9:31
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    Even saying "three distinct beings" may not be an accurate description of Christian belief. Most Christians accept the Nicene Creed which in its original Greek said ὁμοούσιον ("of one being"), though this caused later issues as there is no present participle of to be in Latin and the use of consubstantialem led to new debates.
    – Henry
    Dec 15, 2011 at 8:20
  • -1 for misunderstanding the Trinity. (Not that anyone actually can understand it, since it's nonsensical, but "three beings" is a fairly basic error.)
    – TRiG
    Sep 26, 2012 at 21:23
  • Homoiousios versus homoosious
    – Wad Cheber
    Aug 20, 2015 at 6:26
2

Protestantism-based answer, intended to clarify the Christian disposition on the question, and on the idea of the Trinity.

First demographics. Christianity is a monotheistic faith, meaning simply, believers in it say so. Take a poll of Christians and exclude anyone who says they believe Jesus is now dead, or is/was not a real historical person. Ask those remaining whether the idea of the Trinity means that "there are three Gods", yes or no. I would be shocked if even a single person said yes out of a hundred.

Begin substantial edit:

Secondly, the written teachings. I intepret the question before us as equivalent to asking whether Christian beliefs, the source of which is Yeshua (Jesus) himself, contradict the Shema Yisrael (Deuteronomy 6:4):

שְׁמַע, יִשְׂרָאֵל: יְהוָה אֱלֹהֵינוּ, יְהוָה אֶחָד.

Yeshua himself answered this quite directly in Yochannan (John) 10:30. Most English editions have:

I and my Father are one.

The "one" here being usually translated from Greek, or sometimes Latin, but corresponding to echad (אֶחָד) from above. The Aramaic versions used in the Eastern Orthodox tradition have (open license font):

ܐܸܢܵܐ ܘܐܵܒ݂ܝ. ܚܲܕ݂ ܚܢܲܢ

We have ܚܲܕ݂ khad for "one". We know this to be a cognate of Hebrew אֶחָד echad because the Shema Yisrael is directly quoted in Mark 12:29:

ܐܵܡܲܪ ܠܹܗ ܝܼܫܘܿܥ. ܩܲܕ݂ܡܵܝ ܡܸܢ ܟܠܗܘܿܢ ܦܘܼܩܕܵܢܹ̈ܐ ܫܡܲܥ ܝܼܣܪܵܝܼܠ܅ ܡܵܪܝܵܐ ܐܲܠܵܗܲܢ ܡܵܪܝܵܐ ܚܲܕ݂ ܗ̄ܘܼ.

Yeshua said to him, The first of all the commandments is, Shema Yisrael, MARYA [corresponds to YHWH] Aloha is one MARYA...

The khad is the same in both places. So clearly, he teaches that God is one (echad), and he is one (khad) with the Father. And he directly debates this very question in the conversations in the Temple that John / Yochannan and Mark recorded in their gospels.

Of course, a great many people do not believe that Yeshua is one with the Father, but I argue that for those who do, based on the literal text of the teaching itself, that belief cannot possibly be in contradiction to the Shema Yisrael.

End edit

Now to consider today's doctrines.

Within Christianity a common analogy for the Trinity is the shamrock: one plant with three distinct leaves. (Another answer here mentions the hydra. That's the same idea I suppose, but you won't hear many Christians use that analogy for the Trinity, for reasons.)

Not all official statements of faith discuss the Trinity explicitly, but here are some that do:

There are also a number of groups, some of them large, that reject the Trinity.

Specifically with Catholicism, other questions could be in play, because many Catholics pray to their "Saints" as proxies, asking the Saints to pray to God on their behalf. Many Protestants consider this practice to be idolatry. This is, in fact, one aspect of one of the critical doctrinal divides between Catholics and Protestants. I do not know how most Orthodox traditions treat this particular issue.

12
  • Thank you for this information. Do any of the Protestant denominations have an "official" written statement on the trinity, or is that considered unnecessary? (If this were Roman Catholicism I would expect a papal decree, but that obviously don't work for Protestants and I don't know what your sources of authority are. Sorry if this question misses the mark.) Feb 5, 2013 at 15:05
  • 3
    How do you know that the definition of monotheistic that you use is relevant to this issue?
    – Double AA
    Feb 5, 2013 at 16:43
  • 1
    @MonicaCellio Good point, I have found and included some references, including a Catholic catechism.
    – wberry
    Feb 7, 2013 at 3:58
  • 4
    @ wberry, Judaism does not consider a "composite" G-d to be "one." There was actually a huge argument when kaballah began to be taught widely, as some people thought that the idea of sefiros meant that G-d had "parts." (He doesn't.) So the whether or not Christians consider it one or three gods, it is definitely, not a Jewish one, and not acceptable to Judaism. I'll leave the discussion on its possible idolatrous nature to those who are more familiar in this subject.
    – HodofHod
    Feb 21, 2014 at 19:59
  • 2
    @BruceJames, while that view of Satan may be popular piety, doctrine and theology of denominations I am familiar with teach that Satan's works are corruptions of what God has made. (Please preface all of the following with "Likewise in those teachings.") He twists or bends what is meant for good. Satan is under the full dominion of God, he is actively rebelling and seeking to bring others down with him. He will be brought to bear but for now God allows Satan to work.
    – Frank Luke
    Mar 27, 2014 at 12:53
1

the trinity churches are avodah zarah because if you believe in that kind of shituff you believe in a different definition of an unlimited g-d we believe in a g-d which none is similar to him "vehu echad veain sheini lehamshil lo" ( "והוא אחד ואין שני להמשיל לו" )(adon olam) and trinity does not support that therefore they belive in a different deity then us

8
  • 2
    The Trinity doesn't say that Jesus is comparable to God. It says he and God are one. There's no comparing happening.
    – Double AA
    Aug 18, 2013 at 8:28
  • @DoubleAA if you believe in more then one thing as being "godly" then there is something comparable to him in addition we believe in a indivisible god (ה אחד) and believing in a god which part of him is jesus is also a different type of god Aug 18, 2013 at 15:09
  • They believe in only one thing as Godly. It is the Trinity. Jesus is not a part of God; he is God.
    – Double AA
    Aug 18, 2013 at 15:18
  • @DoubleAA yes but if god has 2 hands he isnt "INDIVISIBLE" Aug 18, 2013 at 15:20
  • OK. Good thing the Trinity doesn't have that.
    – Double AA
    Aug 18, 2013 at 15:22
1

Rabeinu Bahya in Chovot Halevavot Gate 1 implies it is not compatible with Judaism's core beliefs.

ch.1 After investigating after what is the most necessary of the cornerstones and fundamentals of our religion, we found that the wholehearted acceptance of the unity of G-d is the root and foundation of Judaism. It is the first of the gates of the Torah, and it differentiates between the believer and the heretic...

ch.7 What we brought here should be enough for the understanding person and this should suffice to answer the believers of dual gods or the trinity gods of the Christians, and others. Since when we establish the unity of the Creator of the world, all those who claim that He is plural will be automatically refuted

2
  • So is it Avoda Zara or not?
    – Double AA
    Jun 3, 2016 at 3:06
  • @DoubleAA it is multiple gods so yes
    – ray
    Jun 3, 2016 at 5:26
1

It should be clarified that bishituf is acknowledging the supreme creator of the world who works in tandem with other divine forces. That is not christianity. Christianity changed the definition of god with their concept of the trinitarian godhead. They claim that all elements of the trinity are equally god, and as such do not believe in a supreme creator being at all. They believe in a collective of supreme beings, all of whom are the Creator in their mind. I think that accordingly everyone would hold that it is straight up idolatry and not bishituf at all. Please correct me if I am mistaken, but this is what comes out from their literature that I have read on the subject.

5
  • One problem with this statement is that there appear to be a number of different ideas as to what this means. Some seem to be shituf and some seem to be more like the pagan idea of a tribe of powers and all variations in between. It also appears that they do not really understand what they actually mean. Jun 29, 2017 at 11:54
  • I am open to that. But I just asked a pastor for confirmation and he reiterate what I wrote - that each part of the trinity is equally the Creator. They do not distinguish between the father and the son regarding divine roles. And if that is the case then they have completely reinvented the concept of God rather than it being bishituf.
    – user11308
    Jun 29, 2017 at 18:34
  • This post could be improved with references to the literature you have read, and specifically to some sources about the definition of Avoda Zara.
    – mevaqesh
    Jul 2, 2017 at 7:16
  • I made that point to a posek, and he just responded that "Shituf is shituf", which I took to mean that this still qualifies as shituf.
    – N.T.
    Jul 8, 2021 at 0:24
  • @mevaqesh I actually asked a question, where I elaborate this same point with sources. I just noticed user11308 makes my same point in this answer. (judaism.stackexchange.com/questions/129188/…) Apr 29 at 22:56
1

I am an Italian Ben Noach.

Many and enlightening answers have been given to the question posed.

I would like to add just one more consideration: beyond the specific practices, which may vary from one church to another, all christian confessions, excluding none, are united by the same concept: after the coming of "our Lord Jesus Christ" the Torah has ceased its saving function.

This belief is the cornerstone of the thought of Paul of Tarsus, the true founder of christianity, who expresses it in several of his letters included as a fundamental part of the so-called "New Testament".

By way of example, Paul of Tarsus says in the letter to the Galatians 2.16:

"Know that a person is not justified by the works of the Law (Torah), but by faith in Jesus Christ. So we, too, have put our faith in Christ Jesus that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the Law, because by the works of the Law no one will be justified ".

This belief is in irremediable contrast to the fundamental teaching professed by the Torah in Leviticus 18:5, where HaShem says:

"You shall keep My laws and My rules, by the pursuit of which human beings shall live: I am HaShem".

And in fact Rambam does not just say that christians are idolaters, but he also says (Mishneh Torah-Hilchot Teshuvah 3:6 and 8) that they have no part in the world to come since they are among those "who deny the Torah", since christians (like muslims) believe that

"though the Torah came from the Almighty, the Creator has replaced one mitzvah with another one and nullified the original Torah".

Therefore in my opinion chistian worship constitutes, on the halachic level, avodah zarah also for the Gentiles first of all by virtue of the aforementioned belief, which I repeat unites all christians regardless of their specific practices regarding the trinitarian worship, the veneration or not towards intermediaries etc. etc.

1

Is Christianity Shituf or Avodah Zarah?

Rabbi Moshe Sternbuch, chief of the Edah HaChareidis rules that Christian denominations that believe Yeshu ימש״ו is the incarnation of G-d chas v’shalom, fall under the category of actual Avodah Zarah and are not considered Shituf/"partnership" (link - link).

“Christianity is not merely Shituf, which according to some opinions gentiles aren’t warned against, in truth they corporealize our G-d blessed be He, through their idolatry with the title “son” ר״ל, the gravest form of idolatry." (Teshuvos VeHanagos siman 317)

(Since there is a prohibition against learning the ways of Avodah Zarah (Rambam, Avodah Zarah 2:2, Shulchan Aruch, Yoreh Deah 139) don’t open the links below without consulting a Rov.)

There is a common misconception amongst Yidden regarding mainstream Christianity, i.e. trinitarian Christianity. Their deity is not a sort of tritheism with G-d at its head. That would actually constitute heresy in trinitarian Churches. The Trinity is a “homoousion”, the belief that G-d is three distinct hypostases or persons who are coeternal, coequal, and indivisibly united in one being, or essence. In fact, that is why (link - link) they falsely claim to be monotheistic. In order to reconcile their three G-ds with the one G-d of the Torah they just combined them into one and called it a paradox. Even according to the opinions based on Tosafos to Bechoros 2b Sanhedrin 63b that shituf(1) is permitted for Bnei Noach, this doctrine should be actual Avodah Zarah. They don’t believe in some sort of partnership of false deities with the Creator or as intermediaries between them and Him. They redefined Him as composed of three primordial equal parts chas v’shalom, one even having form, i.e. Yoshke ימש"ו.


(1)One clear example of the definition of Shituf: The Rama OC 156 quotes Tosafos 63b “sh’mishtatfin shem shamayim v’davar acher”, the Olas Tomid on this Rama says:

“klomar sh’omrim d’ze l’mala mize (they recognize Hashem is above they’re AZ) veinam pogmim b’yichud Hashem (and they don't compromise Hashem's unity), omnam im pogmim b’yichud v’omrim sh’shnayim hem, ze bichlal AZ”.

Meaning if they believe it’s literally a partnership then it would be AZ (how much more so if they believe they’re one essence). Others limit shituf even further (See Sefer Hamamarim Melukat 1 p.323, Mamar Mayim Rabim 5717, Melukat 3 p. 128 B’yom Ashtei Asar 5731 ibid footnote 20) ביום עשתי עשר


In other words, they would have been better off believing in a sort of tritheism than redefining G-d in this preposterous form (although as quoted above from Rav Sternbuch, by claiming Yoshke is the incarnation of G-d and not merely another deity, they would anyway be corporealizing Him). Shituf is permitted according to some opinions, but only as long as they also believe in Hashem (as the Torah defines Him). How is this doctrine any different from that of the Greek g-ds with Zeus as the chief deity of the pantheon with Yoshke instead? In conclusion, the Trinity is the Christian version of the pagan pantheons of antiquity and is pure Avodah Zarah.

It should be noted though, the Lubavitcher Rebbe in a handwritten editing remarks to a letter

“Christianity is Avoda Zara, is in contrast to the seven Nohadite laws, as opposed to Islam. However, the Christians of today are simply “Maaseh Avoseihem Beyadeihem”.

Accordingly, the average layman may not be considered an idolator.

Survey - A Majority Of Americans Think J Is A Great Teacher Yet Reject His Claims To Be G-d

Halachic Ruling - Rav Sternbuch enter image description here Halachic Ruling by Rav Sternbuch

(Nontrinitarianism rejects the doctrine of the Trinity. The din of such churches depends on their respective beliefs)


The Prohibition of Idol Worship

From The Divine Code by Moshe Weiner

  1. The Master of the universe commanded Adam in the prohibition against serving idols,[228] as it says,[229] “And the Lord God commanded [upon] Adam …,” meaning that God commanded Adam to submit to His Divinity. The Sages explained that there are three meanings in this: “I am God; do not exchange Me” – to rebel and replace Me with another god, which is the prohibition of idolatry. “I am God; do not curse Me” – this being the prohibition of blaspheming God’s Name, since for God’s honor one must not disgrace and blaspheme Him. “I am God; the fear of Me shall be upon you” – this being the obligation to fear God. The prohibition of idolatry has two facets: the command to recognize and know God, and the prohibition against serving idols. Anyone who does not recognize and believe in God is a “deviant believer” (see Part I, topic 1:7). Likewise, anyone who serves idols denies all of God’s commandments (since he does not accept God’s Sovereignty), as well as His honor and His True Existence.

  2. The main prohibition against idol worship is not to serve one of the creations, be it an angel, a spiritual power, a constellation, a star or a planet, one of the fundamentals of the physical creation, a person, an animal, a tree, or any other created thing. Even if one knows that the Master of the universe is God, and he only serves a lofty creation and only in the mistaken manner that Enosh and his generation did (Gen. 4:26, as will be explained below in topic 4), this is still idol worship. This concept is written in the Torah:[230] “Lest you raise your eyes to the heavens and see the sun and moon and the stars and the hosts of the heavens, and you are persuaded, and you bow down to them and serve them – those [celestial bodies] that God separated for all the nations under the heavens.” This means that a person is able to err in his heart and believe that celestial bodies guide the world, and that God has chosen them to be forever alive and existing without ever decaying, for the sake of the terrestrial world but unlike its way. From this false idea, one may come to think that it is fitting to bow down and serve them. Regarding this it says,[231] “Guard yourselves lest your hearts stray,” meaning: be vigilant to avoid a mistaken thought, by imagining that these creations are acting as intermediaries between people and God.[232] Therefore, a person is also an idol worshiper if he serves God along with another entity as an intermediary (see Part I, topic 1:7), even if he says that the Lord is the “main God,” but he also serves another power. This is so regardless of whether one serves the intermediary alone, for example by bringing a sacrificial offering or bowing down to it, or if he brings a sacrifice and bows down and says that his service is for both God and the intermediary.[233] However, if a person serves only the Lord, but he also believes there is another power or god under the Lord’s command that one should also have faith in and swear by, then he is called a “believer in an intermediary.” Great Rabbinical authorities throughout history debated whether the false belief in an intermediary is actually idolatry and therefore prohibited to Gentiles, or if it is not included in the basic Noahide prohibition of idol worship and therefore not forbidden for Gentiles.[234], [235], [236]

  3. Idol worship does not only include the worship of an angel, a physical creation, or some natural or metaphysical power. If one accepts upon himself any created or imagined entity, spiritual or physical, as a deity, and he worships it and totally subdues himself to it, as a servant before his master, this is idol worship. For example, those who worship spirits of the dead or any other spirits which they imagine to exist, are idol worshipers. Likewise, this applies if one worships any ideal that was imagined by some people to be a motivating reason for the universe, if he serves this spirit or ideal in the manner of those who bow down or bring incense to the ideals of “peace,” “love,” or “humanitarian rights.” The basic idea is that one who actually serves any part of the physical or spiritual creation (which includes everything except God Himself, Who is not created) is an idol worshiper. One should know that all these are natural created things, made for the sake of mankind, to help him in his service to God, and they were not created so that people should make them rulers over themselves. Those who exchange the secondary with the fundamental are transgressing the command (explained above in topic 1), “I am God; do not exchange Me.”

  4. What was the mistake of Enosh and his generation? In his days, mankind made a great mistake, and the wise men of that generation gave thoughtless and spiritually erroneous advice. They said that since God created the stars and the planets with which to control the world, and He put them in the heavens and treated them with honor, making them servants who minister before Him, it is therefore proper to praise them, glorify them, and treat them with honor. These people also said that it is the will of God that mankind should honor and make great those whom He magnified and honored, just as a king desires that the servants who stand before him will be honored, for doing so is an expression of honor to the king. Once they thought this, they began to build places of worship for the stars and to offer sacrifices to them. They would praise and glorify them with words, and prostrate themselves before them, because by doing so, they would – according to their false conception – be fulfilling the will of God. This was the essence of the worship of false gods, and this was the reasoning of those who worshiped them, and the explanation they gave. They did not say that there is no other god except for this star they were worshiping. This is what Jeremiah conveyed:[237] “Who would not fear You, O King of the nations? For [kingship] benefits You, for among all the wise men of the nations and in all their kingdoms, [it is known that] there is none like You. But in one concept they are foolish and stupid; the vain [idols] which they teach are but wood.” This means that all people knew that God alone exists, but it was from their mistake and their foolishness that they said that this vanity of theirs (the concept of independent intermediaries and the worship of idols) was God’s will.

  5. After many years passed, there arose false prophets who said that God had commanded them to say to the people: Serve this star (or all the stars); sacrifice to it and offer libations to it, and build a temple for it and make an image of it, so that everyone – including the women, the children, and the general population – could bow to it. A false prophet would inform them of a form that he had conceived, and tell them that this is the image of the particular star, claiming that this was revealed to him in a prophetic vision. In this manner, the people began to make images in temples, under trees, and on the tops of mountains and hills. People would gather together and bow down to the images, and the false prophets would say: “This image is the source of benefit or harm. It is appropriate to serve it and fear it.” Their priests would tell them: “This service will enable you to multiply and be successful. Do this and this, or do not do this and this.” Subsequently, other deceivers arose and declared that a specific star, sphere or angel had spoken to them[238] and commanded them: “Serve me in this manner.” The false prophet would then relate a mode of service, telling them: “Do this, and do not do this.” Thus, these practices spread throughout the world. People would serve images with strange practices – one more distorted than the other – offer sacrifices to them, and bow down to them. As the years passed, God’s glorious and awesome Name was forgotten by the entire population. It was no longer part of their speech or thought, and they no longer knew Him. Therefore, all the common and uneducated people and their children eventually knew only the images of wood or stone which they were trained from their childhood to bow down to and serve, and in whose name they swore, and in whose temples they worshiped. The wise men among them would think that there was no God other than the stars and spheres for whose sake, and in resemblance of which, they had made these images. The True God was not recognized or known by anyone in the world, with the exception of a few individuals: for example, Enoĥ, Methuselaĥ, Noaĥ, Shem and Eber. The world continued in this fashion until the pillar of the world –Abraham the Hebrew[239] – was born.

  6. After this mighty man was weaned, he began to explore and think. Though he was a child, he began to think incessantly throughout the day and night, wondering: “How is it possible for the celestial firmament to continue to revolve without having anyone controlling it? Who is causing it to revolve? Surely it does not cause itself to revolve!” He had no teacher, nor was there anyone to inform him. Rather, he was mired in Ur Kasdim among the foolish idolaters. His father, mother, and all the people around him were idol worshipers, and he would worship with them. However, his heart was exploring and gaining understanding. Ultimately, he appreciated the way of truth and understood the path of righteousness through his accurate comprehension. He realized that there is One God who controls the celestial sphere and Who created everything, and that there is no other God among all the other entities. He knew that the entire world was making a mistake in worshiping creations. What caused them to err was their service of the stars and images, which made them lose awareness of the truth. Abraham was forty years old when he became fully aware of his Creator. When he recognized and knew Him, he began to formulate the replies to the inhabitants of Ur Kasdim and debate with them, telling them that they were not following a proper path. He broke their idols and began to teach the people that it is fitting to serve only the God of the universe, and to Him alone is it fitting to bow down, sacrifice, and offer libations, so that the people of future generations would learn to recognize Him. Conversely, he realized that it is fitting to destroy and break all idolatrous images, lest people err and think that there is no One God, but rather only these images. When he overcame them through the strength of his arguments, the king, Nimrod, desired to kill him, but he was saved through a miracle, and he left for Ĥaran. There, he began to call in a loud voice to all the people and inform that there is one God in the entire world, and it is proper to serve only Him. He would go out and call to the people, gathering them in city after city and country after country, until he finally arrived in the land of Canaan – proclaiming God’s true existence the entire time – as it states (Genesis 21:33): “and there he proclaimed the Name of God, God of the universe.”[240] When the people would gather around him and ask him about his statements, he would explain them to each individual according to the person’s understanding, until they turned to the path of truth. Ultimately, thousands and tens of thousands gathered around him. He planted in their hearts this great fundamental principle, and he composed texts about it.[241]

Notes:

[228] Tractate Sanhedrin 56b; Sifri Numbers 15:23; Rambam, Laws of Kings 9:1. [229] Genesis 2:16. [230] Deuteronomy 4:19. [231] Deuteronomy 11:16. [232] Rambam, Laws of the Worship of Stars [and Idols] 2:1, explains the main concept of idol worship as the mistaken thought that it is God’s will that we serve idols – unlike those who deny God’s existence and imagine an idol as a deity. This is also the opinion of Ramban; see his explanations on Ex. 20:3, 22:19, and 23:25. Rashi (on Ex. 20:3) and some other Torah authorities maintain that the essence of idol worship is the physical action of worshiping an idol, rather than believing in the mistaken concept. This disagreement affects the question regarding belief in intermediaries, because according to Rambam this is the main thing that is prohibited as idol worship, and Gentiles are definitely forbidden to maintain this false belief. But Rashi holds this isn’t the main prohibition, and from this follows the opinions of Tosafot (see below) that belief in an intermediary isn’t forbidden for Gentiles. [233] Ĥiddushei HaRan Sanhedrin 61b. *[234] The majority opinion and practical ruling is that it is not forbidden; see topics 12:9-10 below. But it is unrighteous, i.e., the person is not one of the Pious of the nations of the world (see Part I, topic 1:7 and footnotes there). [235] It is clear from Rambam’s intentions (in Laws of the Worship of Stars [and Idols] 1:2, Laws of Repentance 3:7, and elsewhere) that this belief in an intermediary power is also the essence of idol worship. In Laws of Kings 9:2, he concludes and writes that any act of idol worship that is a capital sin for a Jew is also a capital sin for a Gentile. However, Rema on Oraĥ Ĥayim ch. 156 rules that the false belief in an intermediary is permitted for Gentiles, and in his Darĥei Moshe (ibid.) it is explained in detail in regard to traditional Christian doctrine, as quoted here: It is written in Sefer Toldot Adam V’Ĥavah by Rabbenu Yeruĥam: Rabbenu Yitzhak writes that it is permitted to accept an oath from a worshiper of Yeshua who swears in his religion …, if he swears by “God” and does not mention the name of Yeshua, even if he mentions God’s name in the oath with the intention of including Yeshua, because he still includes this with an intention for the Creator of Heaven and Earth. Even if he connects the name of God with his belief in the other power, nevertheless, it is not prohibited for one to cause a Gentile to mention his belief in an intermediary (even in an oath). Also the prohibition of “placing a stumbling block before the blind” does not apply, since it is not forbidden for Gentiles to believe in an intermediary. This is also written in Tosafot on Tractate Beĥorot 2b. This is also written in Tosafot on Tractate Sanhedrin 63b and Piske ha’Rosh Sanhedrin ch. 7. The implication is that the concept of a divine trinity is actual idol worship, and swearing verbally in the names of God and another power would be forbidden for Gentiles. But if they mention only God, without saying clearly that they (also) mean Yeshua (or souls of others whom the person considers to be saints), it is considered in practical terms as combining God’s power with an intermediary in an oath. That belief, and the mention of it, are not prohibited to Gentiles, and therefore if a Jew requires that a Christian should make an oath in God’s name (only), it is permitted. The explanation above (from Tosafot and Rema) is accepted by most later Rabbinical authorities (e.g., Nodah Bi’Yehudah vol 2, ch. 148). However, if one bows down before a physical statue or image, it is an act of idol worship. This distinction between belief and actual worship is clear in the following section quoted from Sefer Mitzvot Gadol (SMa״G), Prohibition 1: One may not bring to mind the thought that there is any god besides the Lord, as it says [in the Ten Commandments, Exodus 20:3], “There shall not be for you other gods before Me,” from which we see that the Torah forbids the taking of an oath in the name of an idol, and this includes belief in an intermediary, even if one doesn’t actually serve it. In Meĥilta it says: “The inference that is clear from the verse [Exodus 20:4], ‘You shall not make for yourself a carved image …,’ is not to create one. From where do I know that one should not keep in existence one that exists already? … However, the verse’s interpretation cannot be taken out of the simple meaning of the text.” Furthermore, these words …, “before Me” (i.e., “in My Presence”), are interpreted simply as the combining of God’s name with the name of another. In Tractate Sanhedrin 63a it says that one who combines God’s name with that of another will be “uprooted from the world,” as it says (Exodus 22:19), “One who slaughters [sacrifices] to the gods will be destroyed – [this is allowed] only to the Lord alone.” The explanation of his words is that Meĥilta explains this verse, “There shall not be for you other gods before Me,” to mean that one may not keep an idol in existence. However, the simple meaning of the verse is not referring to this. (Rather, the prohibition of keeping an idol in existence is learned from the verse, “You shall not bring an abomination into your house,” as it is written by Rambam in Laws of the Worship of Stars [and Idols] 7:2). The simple meaning of the verse, “There shall not be for you other gods before Me,” is that one may not have idols (“other gods”) in any way, even in a way of an intermediary. He brings proof from Tractate Sanhedrin (ibid.), which explains that the verse cited above, “One who brings offerings to the gods will be destroyed – [sacrificing is allowed] only to the Lord alone,” is referring to a punishment specifically for one who sacrifices or does some other act of idol worship. However, the prohibition itself applies even for one who does not actively serve idols, but accepts idol worship or swears by it. We see from this that the concept of an intermediary refers to believing that there is a partner along with God, as expressed either in one’s thoughts or speech, and this does not necessarily need to be an active service. [236] (Continuation of the preceding footnote) This is the belief in an intermediary that (as Tosafot writes) is not prohibited to Gentiles, meaning to believe and swear in both God’s name and another’s name. However, it is not permitted for a Gentile to perform an active service of idol worship. It is also clear from Rema in Yoreh De’ah ch. 141, that it is prohibited to benefit from even a plain crucifix icon unless it is nullified (see Chapter 8 below on nullification of idolatrous images, and the permissibility of a plain cross if it is only for decoration). Why would it be prohibited to benefit from this, if it is not an idol that is forbidden to Gentiles? Therefore it obviously involves actual idol worship, and the object needs to be nullified before it can be used for any benefit. Therefore there is no contradiction in the words of Rema, who writes (Oraĥ Ĥayim ch. 156) on belief in an intermediary; rather it is as explained above, that an intermediary is permitted for a Gentile only in belief and speech, but not in actual worship or service. The conclusion of Ĥatam Sofer (on Shulĥan Aruĥ Oraĥ Ĥayim ch. 156) is, “The main opinion is that a Gentile is liable for worshiping an intermediary.” [237] Jeremiah 10:7-8. [238] *In Guide for the Perplexed, Rambam explains that the stars and other celestial spheres influence our world, but they are also God’s creations and have no free will of their own. Thus, they are no more than an “axe in the hands of a woodchopper,” and should not be worshipped or served. [239] *The word “Hebrew” (Genesis 14:13) identified him as a descendant of the prophet Eber (see Genesis 10:25); alternatively, it literally means “from over,” since he came to the land of Canaan from over the Euphrates River. [240] *Abraham traveled from Ĥaran with his wife Sarah and “the souls they made in Ĥaran” (Genesis 12:5) – meaning the great number of people whose souls they had uplifted to righteousness, by teaching them to abandon idolatry and to accept the One God and His Seven Noahide Commandments. The verse Genesis 21:33 can alternatively be understood to mean that not only did Abraham call in the name of the Lord, but he also motivated others to do so, as explained in Tractate Sotah 10a. See Part I, topic 6:6. Abraham proclaimed that God’s name is “E-l olom” (“God universe”), to stress that there is no true separation between God and the universe. It is only an emanation of God’s power, which is united with God Himself in total unity. With this realization, a faithful person will be motivated from love and awe of God to serve Him and do His will. See Likkutei Siĥot vol. 7 (Vayak’hel). [241] Topics 4-6 are quoted from Rambam, Laws of the Worship of Stars 1:1-3. *From the time of Abraham’s passing until the giving of the Torah at Mount Sinai, aside from the family of his grandson Jacob, we only find mention of righteous individuals, rather than entire communities. It seems that for most of the thousands of “people of the house of Abraham” whom he and his wife attracted, the couple’s exceptional kindness only temporarily inspired them.


Another point worthwhile of discussion is whether the Christian doctrine of the abrogation of the “Old Testament” by the “New Testament” ח"ו disqualifies adherents of Christianity as Pious Amongst the Nations. It is a prerequisite of the 7 Noahide Laws that Gentiles abide by them because it says so in “the Torah of Moses”. (Rambam, Hilchos Melachim 8:11. Likkutei Sichos vol. 26 p. 132.) However, that is beyond the scope of this paper (possible answer).

(audio shiur on shituf based on Tosafos to Sanhedrin 63b)

מראי מקומות

ספר שבע מצות השם

אם גוים נצטוו על איסור שיתוף

האמונות והדעות לרבנו רב סעדיה גאון

תשובות והנהגות להרב משה שטרנבוך

האם הנוצרים בימינו עובדי עבודה זרה הם?

יחס היהדות לנצרות

Is Christianity considered Avoda Zarah?

(History of Trinitarian Doctrines)

9
  • This discussion seems anachronistic. Tosafot proves the Christians worship God because when they say "God" they mean the creator of heaven and earth. Taking Rambam's 13 Ikkarim as Aristotelian essential properties that limit the scope of the rigid designator "God" doesn't seem to be how tosafot approached this. From tosafot's perspective differences about details don't detract from our discussing an identical deity.
    – Double AA
    May 3 at 14:33
  • @DoubleAA Sorry I guess I misunderstood, could you rephrase it? May 3 at 16:01
  • I'm not sure what isn't clear. I didn't say the word "shittuf" and you wrote a response about "shittuf". I'm just saying analyzing the details of their theology and how they clearly have mistakes need not mean that we both don't mean the same thing when we say God, even if they have some misconceptions about His nature. How that affects "shittuf" will just depend on what you think that word means. For an originalist read of Tosafot probably nothing you've found would bother them.
    – Double AA
    May 3 at 19:01
  • @DoubleAA it’s ok if they don’t understand yichud ה׳ to its depth. By “according to our definition” I meant as long as they don’t give ה׳ some sort of actual form, which is the yikar. The reason I mentioned shituf is bec. in a case where we would have the same G-d in common, like you are proposing, it would at the very least be shituf. By saying Yoshke is the same as the G-d of the Bible either bec. they are one essence or bec. he is an incarnation & not just another divine entity they no longer fit any definition of shituf. May 3 at 19:33
  • As I mentioned, applying rambams ikarim as a limiting factor here doesn't seem to be how Tosfot thought about this. Hence your arguing on tosfot with this later conceptualization of things is anachronistic. (I still am ignoring everything you say about "shittuf" because you haven't defined what you're talking about.)
    – Double AA
    May 3 at 19:36
0

I will try and answer the question without mentioning the name of their deity

The Halacha

The verse states, "The names of other gods you may not mention; it should not be heard on your lips" Shemot 23:13. The Shulchan Aruch (Yoreh Deah 147:1) rules that it is prohibited to mention the name of an avodah zarah whether or not there is a reason to do so. Furthermore, the Gemara says that even causing somebody else to mention the name of the avodah zarah would be prohibited. The Maharam Schick (Responsa, Yoreh Deah #171) adds that it would be similarly prohibited to say something that would cause one to think about an avodah zarah. While many leading poskim dispute the Maharam Schick’s stringency on this matter, the actual Torah prohibition of explicitly mentioning the name of an avodah zarah remains intact.

Worship of any being other than that which was revealed to us Har Sinai is prohibited. "You saw no form only heard a voice."

Originally, the Ebionites (or Nazarenes) held that their Messiah was born of natural generation; that is, they did not believe in a "virgin birth" or that their Messiah was equal to HaShem. Now that they (the Nazarenes) worship (sing and pray to) a third part of a trinity, having deified a man, their worship is no different than if they were to pray and offer sacrifices to Julius Caesar.

Of course the members of the Kingdom Hall (the Witnesses) and some Messianics don't worship after the manner of the trinitarians and oneness Pentecostals so they can't be classified as engaging in Avodah zarah except perhaps by mentioning the name of the third part of the trinity while referencing their messiah.

I would make this distinction because many well meaning "witnesses" who worship in the Kingdom Hall and some Messianics do not engage in Avodah Zarah as I understand their manner of worship. (I am not sure if they say the "Our Father" prayer of Matthew 6.9-13 in the Kingdom Hall but that prayer clearly has it's origins in Judaism and was a part of the Apostolic Creed [see the Didache] from the time that their Messiah is said to have commanded them to pray the "Our Father" prayer).

In sum, worship according to the trinitarian or even the oneness belief system would clearly be avodah zarah because one would be required to mention the name of the Nazarene deity; contrary to what the Torah says!

2
  • 1
    Welcome to Mi Yodeya Yochanan! Thank you for the answer. This answer could be improved with sources; most of them are in the first paragraph and are not really relevant to the answer.
    – mevaqesh
    Jun 2, 2016 at 21:02
  • 1
    "avodah zarah because one would be required to mention the name ['Jesus']" Sorry, but this is not the definition of Avoda Zara. The only parts of this post which answer the question are just your assertions. Since we have no reason to trust you over any other random person on the internet, this is pretty much useless to us and the OP.
    – Double AA
    Jun 3, 2016 at 3:04
0

B"H

According to sources from the shulchan aruch harav's website:

https://shulchanaruchharav.com/halacha/is-christianity-considered-avoda-zarah/

Is Christianity considered Avoda Zarah?

Christianity is considered Avoda Zara for a Jew, and carries all Avoda Zara related prohibitions.[1] However, some Poskim[2] rule that for gentiles, Christianity is considered Shituf and is not prohibited due to Avoda Zara.[3] Other Poskim[4] however rule that Christianity is considered like idolatry even for gentiles.


[1] Rambam Machalos Assuros 11:7; Avoda Zara 9:4; Pirush Hamishnayos Avoda Zara 1:3; Teshuvas Harambam 448; Rama Y.D. 148:12 [in uncensored editions] lists Xmas and New Years as Holidays of idolatry; Likkutei Sichos 37 p. 198; Rebbe in handwritten editing remarks to a letter “Christianity is Avoda Zara, is in contrast to the seven Nohadite laws, as opposed to Islam. However, the Christians of today are simply “Maaseh Avoseihem Beyadeihem”.

The reason: As they believe that Yoshka is one of the three parts of Hashem and they worship him. [In truth however, there are different sects of Christianity with different belief systems. See Haemuna Vehadeios of Rasag 2:7 that there are four groups of Christians and not all are idol worshipers; See here https://www.thoughtco.com/faith-groups-that-reject-trinity-doctrine-700367]

[2] Rama O.C. 156:1 [Omitted in Admur 156]; Darkei Moshe O.C. 156; Y.D. 151; Shach Y.D 151:7; Tosafus Sanhedrin 63b and Bechoros 2b; Ran Sanhedrin 63b, end of first Perek in Avoda Zara; Meiri Bava Kama 113b; Rabbeinu Yerucham Nesiv 17:5; Beir Hagoleh C. M. 425 Shin; Aruch Hashulchan 156:4; Reb Yeshaya Berlin, brought in Mishnas Chachomim Yesodei Hatorah Lav Alef and Pischeiy Teshuvah 147:2; See Sefer Hamamarim Rebbe Maharash 5637 “Mi Kamocha”; Melukat 1 p. 323 Mamar Mayim Rabim 5717; Melukat 3 Nissan p. 128 Mamar “Beyom Ashtei Asar” 5731; Toras Menachem 5743 3 p. 1386; See Pischeiy Teshuvah Y.D. 157:2 that so is clearly implied from Rama ibid; See Sdei Chemed Peas Hasadeh Kelalim 3:6

[3] The reason: The definition of Nohadite idolatry according to this opinion: According to this opinion, the form of idolatry prohibited for Nohadites is the belief that Hashem has completely left the earth, and plays no role in it. That it has been left completely to the authority of a deity to whom they pray and worship. In other words, they believe in G-d’s existence, but simply call him “Eloka Dielokaya/The G-d of G-d’s/.” This is prohibited for even a gentile to believe, and he must believe that G-d has direct influence on the world. It goes without saying that denial of G-d’s existence at all, and believe in a foreign deity, is defined as idolatry. However, Shituf, which is permitted for a gentile according to this opinion, believes Hashem interacts with the world, although has given authority to other deities or powers to also have some control in the world, and He is thus not the sole ruler. While Jews are prohibited from believing this due to idolatry, gentiles are not. [See Sefer Hamamarim Melukat 1:323, Mamar Mayim Rabim 5717 Melukat 3 ibid footnote 20]

[4] Noda Beyehuda Tinyana Y.D. 148 [Says that Shituf is Avoda Zara even for gentiles, and the Rama and Ran never intended to say that Shituf is permitted for them, and thus the common statement of people that based on the Rama there is no Issur of Shituf for gentiles, is incorrect; However, see Pischeiy Teshuvah ibid that in truth one must say the Rama holds Shituf is permitted for gentiles, as the Rama Y.D. 151:1 permits selling them items, as explains Shach 151:7]; Mahara Sasson; Vishev Hakohen 38; Meil Tzedaka 22; Shaar Efraim 24; P”M 156; Y.D. 65 S”D end of chapter that is nevertheless Rabbinically prohibited; Binyan Tziyon 1:16; Mishnas Chachomim Yesodei Hatorah Lav Alef; Pischeiy Teshuvah Y.D. 147:2 [concludes that Shituf is forbidden also for gentiles]; Rebbe in handwritten editing remarks to a letter “Christianity is Avoda Zara, is in contrast to the seven Nohadite laws, as opposed to Islam. However, the Christians of today are simply “Maaseh Avoseihem Beyadeihem”.


https://shulchanaruchharav.com/halacha/saying-the-name-jesus/#_ftnref4

May one say the name Jesus or Yeshu? From the letter of the law, it is permitted to recite the name Jesus or Yeshu.[1] It is likewise permitted to write these names, as we find Gedolei Yisrael who wrote these names in their Sefarim.[2] Nevertheless, despite the letter of the law, the custom of all Jewry dating back many generations is to avoid saying these names and rather the term Oso Ish or Yoshka or Yoshke Pandre is used in its stead. One is not Heaven forefend to break this custom.[3]

May one say the word Christ?[4] One is not to use this term as it connotes a Messiah and savior, and according to some even a deity, and so is the custom of all Jewry to not say this term.[5]

May one say the name Chris-mass? No, and so is the custom. One is rather to use a epithet [i.e. nickname] such as Kratzmacht; Nittel, and the like. Seemingly, however, the term X-mass is not to be used, as the X is short for Ch***, and is used also by Christians as a formal name of the holiday.[6]

May one say the name Mary?[7] From the letter of the law, it is permitted to do so[8], although G-d fearing Jews avoid saying this name [when in reference to the mother of Yoshka].

May one say the name Muhammad or other followers of Islam? Yes, as the religion of Islam is a true monotheistic religion which carries no aspect of idolatry.


[1] The reason: As it is permitted to recite names of people who do not connote a deity and were later turned into a deity. [Yireim brought in Hagahos Maimanis Avodas Kochavim 5/3; Chavos Yair Teshuvah 1 Hasaga 11-12; Biur Hagrâ€ÂÂa 147/3; Teshuvos Rav Ezriel Hildsheimer 180; See Mishneh Halachos 9/169]

[2] See Biur Hagrâ€ÂÂa ibid; This name is mentioned in various places in the Gemara and Rambam end of Mishneh Torah-uncensored version; See Sanhedrin 43; 67; 105; 107; Avoda Zara 27; Yerushalmi Brachos 5/1; Rambam Melachim However see Teshuvos Rav Ezriel Hildsheimer 180 that no proof can be brought from here that these names may be recited as there is no prohibition to write the names, and rather the prohibition is simply to say them.

[3] Teshuvos Rav Ezriel Hildsheimer 180; See Mishneh Halachos 9/169

[4] Teshuvos Rav Ezriel Hildsheimer 180; See Mishneh Halachos 9/169

[5] Although we find Sefarim that write this term as well, nevertheless one cannot learn from them that it is permitted to say the names, as writing is more lenient than saying, as well as that it is permitted to write the names for learning purposes. [ibid]

[6] See here http://www.thefreedictionary.com/Xmass

[7] Chavos Yair Teshuvah 1 Hasaga 11-12

[8] The reason: In addition to all the reasons of allowance mentioned above regarding Yoshka, this woman is not worshiped or considered a G-d by even the Christians, and hence it has no relation to idolatry. [ibid

2
  • 1
    Hi @bluejayke - I don't think the second quote is necessary about saying the name Jesus - it has not bearings on the question.
    – Dov
    Mar 7, 2021 at 11:23
  • @dov it adds meaning to it being idolatry, since idolatry names aren't mentioned, as it discuss in the notes Mar 7, 2021 at 14:55
-1

It may be that later in life the RAMBAM decided that Christianity was not idolatry.

There is a responsum where he seems to me to be saying that it's OK to teach Torah to Christians, but not to Muslims. Though Fred who mentioned this responsum, is not sure whether it means after they convert or not.

Since it's not allowed to teach torah to idolators, and the RAMBAM allows it to be taught to Christians, it suggests that the RAMBAM might've changed his view on Christianity later in life and decided that it was not idolatry. (his view in hilchot avodah zarah is clear that it is idolatry. The responsum/letter was written at a later time in his life).

To any novice reader, i'd point out that "liable for the death penalty", isn't to be taken too seriously / how it appears.. Firstly some things in Judaism, if Jews do the sin, they're "liable for the death penalty" like breaking the sabbath. It doesn't mean that's enforced and even the biggest extremist won't try to enforce it because there are fundamental reasons why it can't be enforced e.g. there has to be a sanhedrin sitting in the court of the temple, and we don't have that.. and other reasons too. As for death penalty to gentiles, that's also something not even the biggest extremist even dreams of enforcing.. and one reason is theological.. which is that it doesn't seem to make sense if gentiles are treated with a stricter law than Jews e.g. decapitation for breaking any of the 7 laws. So see liable for the death penalty, whether ot Jews or non-jews, as just meaning very seriously/strongly forbidden.

The RAMBAM's responsum follows below

Teaching Written Torah to Christians

(http://www.responsa.co.il/searchg/%D7%A9%D7%95%22%D7%AA%20%D7%94%D7%A8%D7%9E%D7%91%22%D7%9D%20%D7%A1%D7%99%D7%9E%D7%9F%20%D7%A7%D7%9E%D7%98_h.aspx)), where the Rambam writes:

השאלה הל"א שאלה מאמר ר' יוחנן גוי שעסק בתורה חייב מיתה, האם זה הלכה והחייב כל בר ישראל להמנע (מללמדו) דבר מן המצות חוץ משבע מצות או להעמידו עליהן, אם לאו? התשובה היא הלכה בלא ספק. וכאשר יד ישראל תקיפה עליהם, מונעים אותו מתלמוד תורה עד שיתגייר. אבל לא יהרג, אם עסק בתורה, לפי שאמר חייב מיתה ולא אמר נהרג כמו שאמרו על שבע מצות בן נח נהרג. ומותר ללמד המצות לנוצרים ולמשכם אל דתנו, ואינו מותר דבר מזה לישמעאלים, לפי מה שידוע לכם על אמונתם, שתורה זו אינה מן השמים, וכאשר ילמדום דבר מן כתוביה (וימצאוהו) מתנגד למה שבדו הם מלבם לפי ערבוב הסיפורים ובלבול העניינים אשר באו להם, (הרי) לא תהיה זו ראיה אצלם, שטעות בידיהם, אלא יפרשוה לפי הקדמותיהם המופסדות ויוכלו להשיב עלינו בזה בטענתם ויטעו כל גר וישראל, שאין לו דעת, ויהיה זה מכשול לישראל האסורין ביניהם בעונותם. אבל הנוצרים מאמינים בנוסח התורה שלא נשתנה, ורק מגלים בה פנים בפרושם המופסד ומפרשים זאת בפירושים, שהם ידועים בהם, ואם יעמידום על הפרוש הנכון, אפשר שיחזרו למוטב, ואפילו לא יחזרו, כשרוצים שיחזרו, לא יבוא לנו מזה מכשול ולא ימצאו בכתוביהם דבר שונה מכתובינו.

Translated:

Question: Regarding the statement of R' Yochanan [Sanhedrin 59a] that a non-Jew who delves into Torah study is chayav misa [lit. "liable for death"], is this the law, and are all Jews obligated to avoid teaching a non-Jew anything from the commandments, besides for the seven Noahide laws, or to avoid bringing him to understand them, or not?

Answer: This is undoubtedly the law. And when Jews would have dominion over a non-Jewish population, the Jews would prevent a non-Jew from Torah study until he would convert. But he is not killed if he studied Torah, since it says he is "liable for death" and it doesn't say "he is killed" as it does with respect to transgression of the seven Noahide laws.1

And it is permitted to teach Christians the commandments, and to attract them towards our religion. But this thing is not permitted with Muslims, as is known to you regarding their faith, that this Torah is not from heaven, and when you teach them something from its scriptures, if they find it contrary to that which they have imagined from the muddled stories and warped ideas that have reached them, the scripture will be no proof to them, for they maintain this mistaken view. Rather, they will interpret the scripture according to their preconceived misconception, and they will be able to respond with this claim. And any convert2 or Jew who lacks knowledge may thereby err, and this would be a stumbling block to the Jews who are trapped amongst them (due to their sins).

However, the Christians accept that our version of the Torah is unchanged, except that they misrepresent it with their deficient interpretations, and they explain it with interpretations that are known to them. And if they would be corrected with the proper interpretation, they might return to the right way. And even if they don't recant, if they want us to recant3 we will not have a stumbling block from this, since nothing found in their scriptures [of the Old Testament] is different from our scriptures.

Fred who posted about that writes

Fred Wrote: When the Rambam writes, "וכאשר יד ישראל תקיפה עליהם מונעים אותו מתלמוד תורה עד שיתגייר", I'm not sure if the Rambam meant that we don't teach non-Jews Torah until the conversion process is complete, or if he meant that we don't teach them Torah until they come seeking to convert. In any case, it appears likely from this responsum, and from the the Rambam's ruling in Hil. M'lachim 10:9, that even a ben Noach who accepts the divinity of the Torah (see Hil. M'lachim 8:11) may not study Torah other than as pertains to him (however, the scope of what Torah pertains to a non-Jew may be quite broad - see this answer).

some discussion on this answer from chat https://web.archive.org/web/20170626005748/https://pastebin.ca/raw/3835666

7
  • IIRC Rashi in his commentary on the talmud, and based on the verse in the shema, says the torah is our inheritance and our betrothed, and for somebody not jewish to study it would be theft and adultery. There was a rabbi that considered islam to be idolatry.
    – barlop
    Feb 12, 2016 at 9:37
  • 1
    Your inference that Christians are not idolaters since we may teach them Torah is based on a mistaken text. In reality, it is not merely idolaters who may not learn Torah, but all non-Jews, as is evident in a non- censored Rambam: גוי שעסק בתורה, חייב מיתה; לא יעסוק אלא בשבע מצוות שלהן בלבד
    – mevaqesh
    Jun 3, 2016 at 0:32
  • @mevaqesh Your quote from mishneh torah hilchot melachim chabad.org/library/article_cdo/aid/1188355/jewish/… is, since it's from mishneh torah, still something that I understand was written before his responsa, and you haven't shown that his responsa was an incorrect text. I said that based on hilchot avoda zara, it's idolatry, but that his responsa suggests or implies that it is not idolatry.
    – barlop
    Jun 3, 2016 at 1:12
  • 1
    Also, I didn't quote directly from mishneh torah so you can't say i'm using an incorrect text.. and we both agree on the conclusion on mishneh torah. Fred gave a quote without english, and you haven't shown that his text was wrong, Though the whole question of correct or incorrect text of mishneh torah doesn't change the fact , since i'm saying it's idolatry there in mishneh torah, but i'm talking not about mishneh torah but about the responsa.. So nothing you've brought to the table disputes what I wrote and I quoted the responsa.
    – barlop
    Jun 3, 2016 at 1:16
  • 2
    There is nothing in the responsum alone that implies that it is not idolatry. Just that they may be taught Torah. If this is limited to non-idolaters as the text you cite states, then you have an inference. Since that text is corrupt, all we are left with is the fact that we may teach them Torah, but not Muslims. Does this have anything to do with idolatry. No. He states nothing about idolatry in the responsum, and this answer is therefore not an answer.
    – mevaqesh
    Jun 3, 2016 at 1:28
-4

According to Rambam, yes. However, some rabbis feel that Christianity is not idolatry but merely a heresy of Judaism (Ramban).

6
  • You've answered the title question but not the specifics the OP is actually talking about. Also, it would be great if you could quote and/or link your sources.
    – Harel13
    Mar 7, 2021 at 7:02
  • The Rambam has already been mention above - judaism.stackexchange.com/a/11350/22152
    – Dov
    Mar 7, 2021 at 11:24
  • @Harel13 Rambam felt that the trinity was philosophically impossible.
    – Turk Hill
    Mar 9, 2021 at 0:15
  • @Dov Yes, but not in the way that I answered it.
    – Turk Hill
    Mar 9, 2021 at 0:15
  • 4
    You now have 2 answers with the same text. This one should be deleted
    – mbloch
    Jul 8, 2021 at 3:20
-4

According to Rambam, yes. However, some rabbis feel that Christianity is not idolatry but merely a heresy of Judaism (Ramban).[1]

Also, Rabbi Meiri felt that Christianity was not idolatry since they are a civilized people, and have systems of courts, law, and an administration of justice.[2] Thus, Meiri felt that Christianity is "shituf", and not idolatry.[3]

[1] Although I agree with the Rambam

[2] See the tractate of Avodah Zarah, Talmud

[3] Although it is prohibited to Jews

8
  • The Meiri is known and quoted multiple times on this page. But where did you see this Ramban?
    – mbloch
    Jul 8, 2021 at 3:20
  • @mbloch I forget the source but the Ramban said it in his debate at Barcelona.
    – Turk Hill
    Jul 8, 2021 at 4:12
  • 1
    I have the text of this debate and reviewed it but didn't find that idea. The dispute mostly covers the identity of Mashiach and conflicts between Jewish texts on Mashiach and the life of Jesus. It doesn't address Christianity as a whole. Again I would strongly suggest to check your sources inside to avoid mistakes.
    – mbloch
    Jul 8, 2021 at 6:09
  • I would also note that, according to Chabad here, "Christian belief in the Trinity and Yeshu's birth could not be believed by any thinking Jew. The Trinity is outright idol worship" which is the exact reverse of your claim.
    – mbloch
    Jul 8, 2021 at 7:19
  • 1
    @TurkHill it doesn't matter what I think, I am nothing. What matters is what the Ramban thinks. As I wrote I don't think he thinks what you wrote. And DoubleAA tells us the Meiri doesn't think what you wrote either. So the only think that remains from your answer is what you think ....
    – mbloch
    Jul 8, 2021 at 18:37

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