Is a Jew allowed to live in a place which has brazen Avodah Zarah? I'm talking about places such as India, China and Cambodia. While Christians worship idols as well they say that doing so is wrong.

I'm talking about living amongst people who not only worship idols but say that it is the right thing to do. What is the halacha on this?

  • 2
    Thanks for the edit. I'm uncertain of there being an outright halacha against this. I'm sure that if the government coerced people into practicing idolatry, one shouldn't live there or if already there, one should leave, if possible. (Esp. in cases where one might be killed for not performing idolatry, as one cannot intentionally "kill himself".) Barring that, The Tosefta that's included in Siddurim as the "Pirkei Avot ch. 6" cites a story that one should not live anywhere that is completely devoid of Torah. That's "stricter" than an A.Z. place.
    – DanF
    Feb 8, 2019 at 16:29
  • 3
    @DanF That case isn't really comparable. There could be a place with a strong Jewish community but where the non-Jews are deeply into idolatry. Bavel was that way for many centuries until Islam showed up.
    – Heshy
    Feb 8, 2019 at 17:32
  • Historically Jews have always done so.
    – N.T.
    May 20, 2021 at 0:53
  • Isn't this a Mishna in Avodah Zara?
    – sam
    May 20, 2021 at 1:18
  • Jews lived in Rome and Alexandria during Pagan times
    – AKA
    May 20, 2021 at 17:59

3 Answers 3


Practically yes you can live in a city where people practice avoda zara. But you have to follow to the end to know why.

There is a relevant mishna in Avodah Zarah (1:4)

It is permitted to be outside a city that contains avodah zarah. If there is avodah zarah outside it, inside the city is permitted.

Various halachic authorities disagree how to understand the mishna with Rashi, Raavad and the Shulchan Aruch ruling one can enter a city with idols when no idolatrous festival is being celebrated. The Rambam and the Schach disagree.

R Yirmiyohu Kaganoff explains further (here)

The Mishnah implies that one may not be inside a city that "contains avodah zarah." The question is: What is meant by the clause, a city that contains avodah zarah? This is the subject of a dispute among the early authorities. Most Rishonim (e.g., Rashi, Avodah Zarah 11b; Raavad, to Hilchos Avodah Zarah 9:9) explain that the Mishnah is prohibiting entering a city on a day that there is a big festival in honor of a deity. One may not visit the city that day, because people may think that he is entering the city in order to buy or sell from those observing a holiday. This is prohibited, because his financial dealing with the idolaters may cause them to thank their god for the commerce that was provided, which means that the Jew caused a gentile to worship idols. According to this approach, one may enter a city that contains idols when no festival is being celebrated.

However, the Rambam understands the Mishnah differently, prohibiting entering any city that contains idols (Commentary to Mishna Avodah Zarah 1:4).

You should be aware that it is prohibited to travel intentionally through any city in which there is a temple of avodah zarah, and it is certainly prohibited to dwell in such a city. However, we are under their control and we live in their lands against our will… if this is the law regarding the city, it is certainly so regarding the temple building itself. It is almost prohibited for us to see it, and, certainly, we may not enter it.

The Rambam rules the same in his Mishneh Torah (Hilchos Avodah Zarah 9:9), stating that one may not enter a city that contains an idol.

The Shulchan Aruch (Yoreh Deah 149:1) rules according to the majority opinion, meaning that it is prohibited to enter a city containing a building intended for idol worship only on a day when there is a festival. The Shach, however, appears to disagree, quoting the Rambam’s opinion as normative halachah.

R Binyamin Tabady told me though that, in the language of the Rambam and Shulchan Aruch, a city was a small settlement, unlike our modern cities. As such those who forbid entering a city mean a small place where everyone goes to perform avoda zara but not our modern cities.


Avodah Zarah tractate of the Talmud helps Yehudim with weak self-control (prone to disobedience), unfit to fulfill Yeshayahu 49:6. - For Example : Avodah Zarah 27b : 8 "The Gemara explains: Heresy is different, as it is enticing. In other words, it is prohibited to accept medical treatment from a heretic, as one might come to be drawn after his heresy. By contrast, receiving medical attention from a gentile is permitted if it is certain that one will die if he is not treated."

Confident Yehudim would recognize opportunities to fulfill Yeshayahu 49:6 by revealing Torah, while receiving bandages or even when receiving haircuts by Goyim.

Although Avodah Zarah 29 a: 9 states: "The mishna teaches: And one may not have his hair cut by gentiles anywhere. The Sages taught in a baraita: A Jew who has his hair cut by a gentile should observe the gentile’s actions in a mirror while he cuts his hair. And in the case of a gentile who has his hair cut by a Jew, when the Jew reaches the gentile’s forelock he removes his hand and does not cut it, because it is associated with idol worship."

How could Yeshayahu 49:6 ever be fulfilled לְא֣וֹר גּוֹיִ֔ם if Yehudim recoil from living with Goyim (in fear of Avodah Zarah)? - Are Goyim not as equally enticed to learn Truth, as a Yehudim/Ivrim may be enticed to idolatry?

What was the point of G-d revealing His Edict in Yeshayahu 49:6, if Yehudim are predestined to cower from living kasher amongst goyim?

"And He [G-d] said, "It is too light for you to be My servant, to establish the tribes of Yaqov and to bring back the besieged of Yisrael, but I will make you a light of goyim, so that My salvation shall be until the end of the earth." (וַיֹּ֗אמֶר נָקֵ֨ל מִֽהְיֽוֹתְךָ֥ לִי֙ עֶ֔בֶד לְהָקִים֙ אֶת־שִׁבְטֵ֣י יַֽעֲקֹ֔ב וּנְצוּרֵ֥י (כתיב וּנְציּרֵ֥י) יִשְׂרָאֵ֖ל לְהָשִׁ֑יב וּנְתַתִּ֙יךָ֙ לְא֣וֹר גּוֹיִ֔ם לִֽהְי֥וֹת יְשֽׁוּעָתִ֖י עַד־קְצֵ֥ה הָאָֽרֶץ )

And you shall burn the city along with all its goods with fire deut 13 :17

Since it does not say not to pive there, the command is to burn it, not to avoid it. If you don't aproach the city how will you burn it? Logically a city is really big therefore you would have to live there for at least some time either way to burn it. G-d speed.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .