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What I'm describing is a somewhat unusual situation, but this can occur.

A group of us daven mincha in a conference room where mizrach (east) has a giant computer monitor. The company focuses on travel, largely to a Christian Evangelical groups.

Most of the time, the monitor is off or it displays the time. One day a few weeks ago, during *Chazarat Hashat"z) a presentation suddenly appeared on the screen. The company perhaps broadcast this to all the monitors in each conference room, not realizing that we were there. Part of the presentation showed the inside of churches with figures of Jesus and crosses, etc.

Should the Shat"z have stopped the Amidah in the middle? Moved to another room to continue? faced a different direction? Or would have he been allowed to continue?

  • If that happened to me while davening, I would be shook. – ezra Jan 31 at 18:23
  • Even if it was not avodah zarah, it is forbidden to pray in front of a picture. If it looks like you are bowing to the picture, it will be forbidden even if it is not avodah zarah. And if it does not look like that, it will be permitted, even if it is avodah zarah. – shmu Jan 31 at 18:47
  • Do you think the Shechinah immediately fades away? I don't think so. לכתחילה surely no, but בדיעבד in the middle of the Teffila it does not invalidate it.\ – Al Berko Jan 31 at 22:29
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Maybe this would be similar to a case in Orach Chaim 90:27, where a child urinates in shul while a person is davening. Several options are given: stop and wait (in that case, until water is brought to pour over the urine and nullify it), walk four amos forward or to the side, or go out of the shul. (Rama there adds that it's best not to use the first option, because if it takes too long, you would have to start Shemoneh Esrei over.)

In general, of course, you're not supposed to move from your place during Shemoneh Esrei, but this kind of situation is an exception (see Orach Chaim 104:2).

(As a practical matter, if the switch to turn off the monitor is easily accessible, then of course logically that would be the best solution.)

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The issue of praying in a place with AZ stems from Moshe who exited Egypt, which was full of AZ, in order to pray (Ex. 9:29, cf. Rashi quoting Mekhilta). Yet in this case, there is no physical AZ in the room [and not all agree that Christianity is bonafide AZ, specially to-day (contrary to Rambam’s opinion, commentary to m. AZ 1:4 [“הנוצרית” should be inserted after “האומה” as in Qafih ed.], others did not maintain that any and all modes of Christianity is halachically considered AZ for a non-Jew)].

Nevertheless it can appear that one is bowing to the said images and therefore may be compared to bowing behind one’s rabbi or in front of a mirror. Yet, the basis for this is in a gem. (Ber. 27b) which is not unanimously agreed to as peshat of the gemara (cf. Rashi, Rambam TT 5:6, Kesef Mishnah and Bet Yosef YD §242, not like Tos. and others; see also Meiri for other explanations). Likewise, the mirror issue is the stringent opinion of Radbaz (§1178) and not Chazal or nec. other medieval poskim. This is important bec. on the other hand interrupting prayer (specifically berachot) is an issue of hefsek (cf. SA §104). Also, Rashba famously decided (resp. 1:177) that where a gentile holding an AZ enters into a Jewish person’s space the latter is not required to remove the AZ which does not belong to him and he did not admit.

And so, IMHO, in such a (hypothetical?) question where there is a non-physical image (monitor) displaying something which is not necessarily considered AZ (cross, religious images) in a room where somebody had begun praying prior to the display, one would be permitted to continue the ’amidah. If, however, it distracts his concentration he may motion to somebody to handle the monitor (cf. poskim on SA 104:1-2). Then, if for whatever reason it can’t be covered or turned off he may turn away or exit the room (cf. MB ibid. and others).

(If too “khop plop” and concise feel free to delete; started as a comment but exceeded the space.)

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