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What are examples where you would need to give up your life to ‘idolatry’ today? כדת ודין

that could actually occur

  • Bowing down or offering sacrifices to Buddha, maybe? I gather that in India, there is a multi-day feast / ceremony. How about praying to the cross, esp. where J is hanging on it? – DanF Apr 12 '18 at 18:05
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    @heshy Are you sure about that? IIRC, Rambam says it is avodah zarah – ezra Apr 12 '18 at 19:42
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    Why would the examples today be any different than they were in the past? While arguably less people sacrifice animals to Ba'al on daily basis nowadays, if one did so, they would be liable just as in the days of old. – Salmononius2 Apr 12 '18 at 20:11
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    Shmuel, if you're looking for examples of contemporary situations that a Jew might plausibly find him/herself in, please edit to make that clear. Also, given how potentially open-ended such a query is, it'd be good to include criteria indicating what the ideal answer would look like, e.g. "the more plausible, the better." – Isaac Moses Apr 12 '18 at 20:39
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    @heshy, ezra Re: Christianity as Avodah Zarah according to the Rambam: See Hacham Gabriel's answer to "Is Christianity Avodah Zara", and Lee's comment there. – Tamir Evan Apr 13 '18 at 2:49
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Hindu and Buddhist practices involving praying and/or bowing down to idols are pretty clear-cut examples of contemporary idol worship, so becoming a sadhu or buddhist monk would be a wonderful way to give up your life to idolatry in our times.

There are differing opinions regarding Abrahamic religions. We generally hold as the Rambam does that Muslims are not idolatrers, but that Islam is avodah zarah (in the literal sense of "foreign worship")for Jews. The Rambam in Hilchot Avodat Cochavim states that Christians ("the Edomites" in the version I have) are idolatrors, but not all hold that way. You could also do an interesting analysis of Catholic, Eastern Orthodox and Protestant practices, there are certainly arguments to be made that the former are idolatrous in a way that the latter is not (ignoring the unity of Hashem for such purposes). Regardless, it is an interesting maloches.

In terms of "needing to" give your life to idolatry today, though Buddhism as practiced inside and outside of Asia is a pretty nonviolent faith,it would not be entirely outside the realm of possibity to imagine being forced to practice Buddhism in contemporary Myanmar/Burma.

Hindus are generally a pretty tolerant bunch (see close to 2000 years of Jewish life in India as an example) and where they're not it usually involves Islam, so I think the only possible forced avodah zarah scenario there involves being kidnapped by a renegade Hindu inspired cult.

Historically, for most of the Edomite Galut, the problem regarding forced Avodah Zarah has mainly come from Christianity; I am unaware of any country where this is still an issue.

On an interesting side note, many "new age" and other "spiritual" types, Jewish and Goyish alike, put quite a bit of time and effort into studying astrology, which is at least "Avodah Zarah-adjascent" if not outright idol worship.Then again, who's forcing you to read horoscopes?

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