I found some answers on this site about if playing certain kinds of "Idolatrous" video games constitute avoda zara, such as Virtual Avodah Zara and While playing a computer game, may I "worship" one of the game's "gods" to help me win?

I think from the articles there's still some doubt as to whether it's considered actual avoda zara or just associating yourself with it, which MIGHT have the difference: does the computer that was used to play the game, need to be completely destroyed, as is the commandment to destroy all things that were used for avoda zara? Take a look at the introduction to this section of Rambam: https://www.chabad.org/dailystudy/rambam.asp?tdate=9/13/2018&rambamChapters=3 particularly the parts where he says:

  1. To destroy false gods and all their objects of worship
  2. Not to benefit from false gods and all their objects of worship

  3. Not to benefit from ornaments that have adorned false gods

this is part of his list of the following "commandments" he is going to explain.

SO it seems that if playing such games is considered actual avoda zara, then apparently the computer would need to be destroyed, or would it? Does anyone know the answer?

BTW just to point out: the above questions only asked about particular games that have actual avoda zara in them and were wondering if THAT is considered like real avoda zara, but they don't seem to take into account that the game ITSELF (no matter what's in it, unless it's some Torah learning game or something) would be considered avoda zara, since it's causing bittul Torah?

'Cause if the game itself (not even considering what's in it) would be considered avoda zara, then the computer should definitely be destroyed, since it's something directly being used for avoda zara, right? Or would it?

EDIT based on the current answer I think it's neccesary to quote this later-mentioned phrase of Rambam:

The worshipers of false gods have composed many texts concerning their service, [describing] what is the essence of their service, what practices are involved, and what are its statutes. The Holy One, blessed be He, has commanded us not to read those books at all, nor to think about them or any matters involved with them.

It is even forbidden to look at the image of an idol, as [Leviticus 19:4] states: "Do not turn to the idols." In this regard, [Deuteronomy 12:30] states: "[Be careful]... lest you seek to find out about their gods, saying, 'How did they serve them.' This prohibits inquiring about the nature of their service even if you, yourself, do not serve them. This matter will ultimately cause you to turn to [the false god] and worship it as they do, as [the above verse continues]: "so that I will do the same."

ב ספרים רבים חברו עובדי כוכבים בעבודתה היאך עיקר עבודתה ומה מעשיה ומשפטיה צונו הקדוש ברוך הוא שלא לקרות באותן הספרים כלל ולא נהרהר בה ולא בדבר מדבריה ואפילו להסתכל בדמות הצורה אסור שנאמר אל תפנו אל האלילים ובענין הזה נאמר ופן תדרוש לאלהיהם לאמר איכה יעבדו שלא תשאל על דרך עבודתה היאך היא אף על פי שאין אתה עובדה שדבר זה גורם להפנות אחריה ולעשות כמה שהן עושין שנאמר ואעשה כן גם אני:

3 All these prohibitions have one common thrust: that one should not pay attention to idol worship. Whoever performs a deed that reflects his concern with [idol worship] receives lashes [as punishment].

The worship of false gods is not the only subject to which we are forbidden to pay attention; rather, we are warned not to consider any thought which will cause us to uproot one of the fundamentals of the Torah. We should not turn our minds to these matters, think about them, or be drawn after the thoughts of our hearts. Blockquote Blockquote

while it's true that a computer might not be considered "maaseh" but the current answer even admits that it is considered "Machashava" and it seems pretty clear in the Rambam that even that is forbidden (and you can't just go and say "oh well the Rambam is only trying to distance us from aveiros so we don't have to listen to him", it seems pretty clear that first of all the Rambam is saying that the prohibition to think about it is min haTorah and even if you say it isn't, it's still universally accepted to listen to the Rishonim just the same as actual Mishanh (forgot the actual source of that statement but it's well known / can be found in many sichos etc.), and I haven't persoannly looked up the shulchin aruch but I'm sure since it's in Rambam it's also mentioned there too),

so the question remains: Since it definitely constitutes as transgressing an Aveira by thinking about Avoda Zara, are we require to destroy the device that caused us to think about it (the computer / TV screen etc.)?

BTW I should have brought this earlier, but regarding the idea of destroying avoda zara the Rambam (https://www.chabad.org/dailystudy/rambam.asp?tdate=9/15/2018&rambamChapters=3) states:

1 It is a positive commandment to destroy false deities, all their accessories, and everything that is made for their purposes, as [Deuteronomy 12:2] states: "You shall surely destroy all the places [where the gentiles... served their gods]" and, as [implied by Deuteronomy 7:5]: "Rather, what you should do to them is tear down their altars."


`6 We are allowed to benefit from images which gentiles made for aesthetic purposes. It is forbidden, however, to benefit from images that are made for the purpose of idol worship.

  • 2
    I have a second thought, that unless you only ask about destroying the computer, your Q is a straight dupe of judaism.stackexchange.com/questions/28057/…
    – Al Berko
    Commented Sep 14, 2018 at 10:50
  • @AlBerko It was pretty clear in the intro to the question that the intent is about destroying / prohibited orr not
    – user8832
    Commented Sep 14, 2018 at 20:41

1 Answer 1

  1. All things digital are called "במחשבה" (virtual, not real). Everything that's on your screen does not exist in reality and it's your imagination (your brain) that makes the picture.

  2. THere's no Kedusha or Tuma on the screen. So changing the picture does not constitute a "מעשה" (deed) for either Kodesh or Hol. For example, deleting the Holy 4-letter name on the screen is freely permitted, as it is nothing real. Typing is permitted on Chol Hamoed even for those who won't write.

  3. Therefore, by playing a video game on any platform, by clicking a keyboard or a mouse or a screen no matter what the character (you impersonate) acts on the screen, one can not make a Mitzvah or violate any prohibition that requires an act, like idolatry.
    So no computer game can be called Avodah Zarah.

  4. Many prominent Rabbis, knowing their great influence on the public, rule regulations that do not reflect the pure Halachah but the intention to להרחיק אדם מן העבירה (to lessen a chance to transgressing). (This is common for example with R' Ovadia Z"l in Yabiah Omer Shu"t, when after a long discussion he admits, that the Halacha does not forbid something and then concludes "anyway I will not rule so, as the time has come to fight this phenomenon at large".) So it is not uncommon to see prohibitions for video games for various reasons, but with some exceptions (playing on Shabbat or portn) I don't see anything Halachic.

Source: Shu"t "Birkas Reuven Shlomo" by R' Shlomo Shlezinger Z"l. I asked this question in person.

NB, I would even exaggerate and claim that worshipping in action (like bowing to or sacrificing ants in front of) a character on the screen can not constitute a real Avodah Zara! A question on its own!

  • 2
    Some sources would improve this great answer
    – Dr. Shmuel
    Commented Sep 14, 2018 at 10:07
  • 1
    Similar: judaism.stackexchange.com/questions/28057/… Commented Sep 14, 2018 at 10:08
  • @chachamNisan Right, but my answer is better as it addresses the computers in general both to Arera and a Mitzvah.
    – Al Berko
    Commented Sep 14, 2018 at 10:46
  • The answer there is contrary to yours; and there are a lot of good comments there, too. Reading through them will make you rethink your answer. And please bring the exact source in shu"t because I'd like to see exactly what he wrote. Commented Sep 14, 2018 at 10:58
  • This is a similar thought process to the halachos of bringing Hashem’s Name into the bathroom on a tech device. That one doesn’t cite any sources either.
    – DonielF
    Commented Sep 14, 2018 at 16:02

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