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Questions tagged [avodah-zarah]

Worship of foreign deities, one of the three cardinal sins.

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21 answers
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Is Christianity Avodah Zara?

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 ...
Aaron Greenberg's user avatar
16 votes
4 answers
5k views

Is there sufficient evidence to support the theory that ancient Israel practiced monolatry?

I just came across this Wikipedia article on monolatrism that says some people believe ancient Israel practiced monolatry. The highest claim to be made for Moses is that he was, rather than a ...
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42 votes
5 answers
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Ethics in video games: idol worship

Background I sometimes play a certain computer role-playing game (RPG). In this game, my character (whom I might name after myself but who does not otherwise resemble me) fights mythological creatures ...
unforgettableidSupportsMonica's user avatar
23 votes
5 answers
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Is it permitted for a Ben-Noach be an atheist?

Avoda zarah is one of the things prohibited by the Seven Noachide Laws. But what about atheism? I know that the 7 Laws are often taken to include a larger number of halachot from the Torah, so would ...
Daniel's user avatar
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Why use Babylonian calendar instead of our own?

Why did the Hebrews not create their own calendar system instead of copying the pagan Babylonians'? I find it interesting that they use a pagan calendar which often honours pagan gods. Why is this ...
roman.geroski34's user avatar
10 votes
1 answer
951 views

How does Judaism regard the different denominations of Christianity vis-a-vis Avoda Zara?

There's been lots of talk about whether Christianity is Avodah Zara. Are there any distinctions between denominations, say which ones have more statues?
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Did the Rambam believe in magic?

If you read through Chapter 11 of the Rambam's laws on Idol Worship, you'll see what seems to be the Rambam forbidding anything that even resembles magic, all while calling such practices foolish and ...
HodofHod's user avatar
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11 votes
2 answers
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Are Jews permitted to martyr themselves?

Are Jews permitted to martyr themselves? For example, if it is a question of converting or being killed, is the Jew permitted to sacrifice himself rather than convert? Separately: which would be ...
SAH's user avatar
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9 answers
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Is practicing Yoga against Torah?

What does Halacha and Halachic Authorities have to say about the permissibility of a Jew practicing Yoga? Is it Avodah Zarah? If it is problematic, are there methods of doing it where it would be ...
Menachem's user avatar
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9 votes
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Conversion to Islam

Although Islam is considered monotheistic I would imagine that in a case of 'oness' (coercion) one would still not be allowed to convert. Is conversion to Islam considered to be a case of יהרג ואל ...
bondonk's user avatar
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29 votes
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Why isn't the Kabbalistic doctrine of Sefirot considered Shittuf if the Christian Trinity is?

From the answers to this question it seems that most if not all Jewish sources treat Trinitarian Christianity (in particular, their doctrine of the Trinity) as either Shittuf or outright Avoda Zara, ...
Curiouser's user avatar
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Davening in front of a picture of 'Avodah Zarah

This afternoon I found myself Davening in a classroom. It must have been a comparative cultures type of class, judging by the items that were hanging on the walls - posters and artwork and such. As I ...
Seth J's user avatar
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23 votes
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Why do we bow down in the direction of the ark?

This is a question I've had for many years, to which I've never received a satisfactory answer: In Hebrew school, we were taught that idolaters bowed to a idol of their god. They would claim that ...
Goodbye Stack Exchange's user avatar
15 votes
4 answers
1k views

Why is the idea of sefirot not shituf?

Why are the sefirot not considered a problem of Shituf? Is there anything wrong with believing in sefirot?
Curiouser's user avatar
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Does Maimonides Allow Prayer to Angels?

In his Mishna Commentary to Sanhedrin 10:1 Maimonides lists as his 5th principle the prohibition to pray to an angel even as an intermediary. He counts this in his enumeration of his 13 principles in ...
mevaqesh's user avatar
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13 votes
6 answers
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What happened to Avraham's students?

We read how Avraham was going around convincing people to believe in one G-d and of his many students. Yet we don't hear of those students (or their descendants) ever again. What happened to them ...
ertert3terte's user avatar
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11 votes
3 answers
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Visiting sites previously used for idol worship

Given the prohibition on entering a place of idol worship (Rambam, Peirush ha-Mishnayos, Avodah Zarah 1:3), when, if ever, is one permitted to visit a historical site that has been used as a place of ...
user5173's user avatar
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6 votes
3 answers
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Getting benefit from a church

I recently heard that one is forbidden to get any benefit from a church (or any other place of worship other then a shul). They went on to say that the prohibation included while giving directions "...
Ken's user avatar
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4 votes
3 answers
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What can a Jew draw? [duplicate]

The Torah prohibits making certain images, (Deuteronomy 4:15-19). It includes males and females, animals, planets, and stars. It seems from these verses that a person's options when drawing the world ...
Baby Seal's user avatar
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4 votes
1 answer
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Asking a Human to Interecede with God

Rambam writes (Hil. T'shuva 3:15) that it is forbidden to utilize any entity as an intermediary between oneself and God (more accurately that one who does so is a heretic who loses his share in the ...
mevaqesh's user avatar
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4 votes
3 answers
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Why isn't it considered idol worship to give respect to the torah?

When the Sefer Torah is brought out of the ark, everyone stands up and kisses it. On occasions such as simchat torah and hoshana rabbah people dance around the Torah. To an outsider these actions can ...
Ani Yodea's user avatar
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2 votes
7 answers
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Is Islam Avodah Zara?

Is Islam avodah zarah? The reason why I ask is because in Mecca, at the Kaaba there is a black stone which the Muslims kiss and believe is holy. Is kissing the stone and believing it's holy a problem ...
Ploni ben Almoni tzedek's user avatar
27 votes
9 answers
7k views

If Christianity is avodah zarah and Islam is not, why has the Christian world triumphed over the non-Christian, and why do Jews prefer to live among Christians and not Muslims?

The Rambam quite clearly considered Christianity to be avodah zarah. He did not feel the same way about Islam, however, going so far as to condone praying within a mosque, and many Orthodox Jewish ...
user avatar
11 votes
2 answers
908 views

Providing services to a forbidden ceremony

If a secular society criminalizes discriminating against a ceremony (e.g., a wedding between arayot [forbidden sexual unions, e.g., incest, bestiality, or homosexuality] or an idolatrous ritual), is a ...
Loewian's user avatar
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11 votes
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May Jews create sculpture, and under what restrictions?

I do not know if a realistic or abstract freestanding or hanging sculpture of any creature as art (for a museum or store) is permitted me to create or for Jews to view, or whether it would be ...
eternalsquire's user avatar
10 votes
2 answers
1k views

Reading books about Avodah Zarah

Is it permissible to read books about Avodah Zarah? Is it permissible to read Greek mythology for informational purposes, seeing as it's not particularly tempting to anyone nowadays? Is it ...
Ish Ploni ViKohen's user avatar
9 votes
2 answers
1k views

No yetzer hora of idolatry, so no nevuah?

I remember learning in a shiur (sorry, can't think of the reference) that Chazal was able to essentially destroy the yetzer hora of avodah zora but with the side effect that there wouldn't be nevuah ...
Naftuli Kay's user avatar
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Is Buddhism Avodah Zarah?

Is Buddhism Avodah Zarah, atheistic, or a philosophy not related to any specific brand of theism? If it is Avodah Zarah, then one would not be able to enter a Buddhist temple, benefit from items of ...
Ish Ploni ViKohen's user avatar
8 votes
2 answers
995 views

Idolatrous origin of the name TAMMUZ

The Gemmorah in Jerusalem Rosh Hashana 6a explains the process of adopting the Babylonian names on Months instead of Biblical ones. דא"ר חנינה שמות חדשים עלו בידם מבבל R'Hanina said: the names ...
user16403's user avatar
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7 votes
2 answers
996 views

May one use the name of an avodah zara?

What is the source for not using the proper name of an avodah zara? How far does this halacha extend? For instance if thousands of years ago people worshipped an avodah zara named "XYZ" but no longer ...
not-allowed to change my name's user avatar
4 votes
2 answers
2k views

Can one bow before a king? Can one bow to a statue of a king?

Can one bow before a king? Can one bow to a statue of a king? For example, if one is visiting North Korea, may one bow to the statues as shown in this picture? Note that they are not fully ...
Ypnypn's user avatar
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15 votes
5 answers
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Permissibility of images of celestial bodies

There is precedent in halachah that one may not create images of celestial bodies such as the moon and stars; see here for background. This is derived in the Gemara from the pasuk "Do not make [images ...
yitznewton's user avatar
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15 votes
2 answers
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Dipping fingers in Havdalah Wine

What is the source or origin of the custom to dip one's fingers in the wine poured over the candle to extinguish it at the conclusion of Havdalah? As a side note, and a reason I'm tagging it this way,...
Seth J's user avatar
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15 votes
1 answer
565 views

Nullifying Ancient Israelite Idols

Following up on a question raised on the Avodah list (see here & here under the subject “Destroying Idols”). Archaeologists often dig up idols whose worshipers have abandoned them over the ...
J. C. Salomon's user avatar
10 votes
6 answers
5k views

Is "Siman Tov u'Mazal Tov" Halachically problematic?

Literally translated, this is what is commonly said in the Jewish community, upon hearing very good news (typically life-cycle events as such as engagement, marriage, birth). "A good sign and a ...
Jake's user avatar
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8 votes
3 answers
458 views

Making an image of G-d in your thoughts

Over and over again we read about the prohibition of idolatry in the Tenach. In the first place G-d commands us not to make any physical image of Him, or anything that represents Him. On the other ...
Levi's user avatar
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6 votes
2 answers
1k views

Avodah Zarah in other religions

Picking up on some of the discussions recently, which religions are Avodah Zarah and why? How does that translate into our relationships with them?
morah hochman's user avatar
5 votes
3 answers
1k views

Is it allowed to make paintings of living creatures?

Among the Ten Commandments is: Thou shalt not make unto thee a graven image, nor any manner of likeness, of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the ...
knowit's user avatar
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3 votes
2 answers
745 views

What’s worse: Apikorsus or Avoda Zara?

Is it worse to be a heretic, who denies the authenticity of the Mesora, or a follower of Avoda Zarah? Are there any rabbinic sources which discuss this question?
user avatar
2 votes
1 answer
1k views

If the sages removed the desire for yetzer hora of avodah zora, what is left in terms of yetzer hara?

During the time of the second Beit HaMikdash, the 120 sages of the Great Assembly were granted the ability to rip out the desire for idolatry (yetzer hora of avodah zora) from the collective soul of ...
Daniel's user avatar
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1 vote
2 answers
488 views

Reading foreign literature: perspectives and experiences

I'd like to hear how people make their decisions about reading, watching, and listening to materials that express non-Jewish ideas and imagery... both for study, and for entertainment. This question ...
Annelise's user avatar
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16 votes
3 answers
2k views

What is the red string all about?

Where did the concept of wearing a red string come from? I have heard different opinions ranging from "you should definitely wear it" to "its forbidden like idol worship" - who is right?
user avatar
13 votes
5 answers
4k views

Should the Christian cross be seen as an idol?

As Christianity is Avodah Zarah, is a Christian cross which people kiss, pay respect to, and face toward when praying, considered to be an idol? Here is a brief excerpt from a scholarly Christian ...
knowit's user avatar
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11 votes
1 answer
410 views

Aesthetics and chukoseihem

In general, there is a prohibition to adopt practices from other cultures (See, e.g., Maimonides' Laws of Idolatry 11; see also here) if there is no clear, reasonable, non-idolatrous justification for ...
Loewian's user avatar
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10 votes
4 answers
3k views

What is the exact definition of Shituf (vis a vis 'Avodah Zarah)?

"Shituf" is the heretical idea of some sort of co-mingling of something with G-d (Has VeShalom). According to many rabbinic opinions, Christianity is Shituf (cf., Is Christianity Avodah Zara?), and ...
Seth J's user avatar
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10 votes
4 answers
3k views

Is it possible to be a Noahide and a Christian at the same time?

Rambam states that for gentiles who wish to have a place in the world to come, they don't need to convert to Judaism. All they need to do is keep the 7 laws of Noah because they were mandated by ...
WhatNot's user avatar
  • 306
10 votes
2 answers
3k views

What to do with the Cross on the Chess King?

Many (perhaps most) Chess sets come with a King piece that has a cross on the top of it. Is there any problem with owning or using such a chess set? Should one break off the cross?
yydl's user avatar
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9 votes
6 answers
3k views

Does the fact that "Elohim" is plural indicate that parts of the Tanakh hearken from a pre-Jewish polytheistic culture?

(disclaimer, I am a gentile and don't know how to type in square script) My question applies to the whole Tanakh, but I'm specifically curious about Genesis. Translating strictly literally (ie, ...
TheIronKnuckle's user avatar
6 votes
4 answers
2k views

Is one permitted to study other religions?

Is one allowed to study other religions? If not, how is one supposed to know that Judaism is correct? If yes, is such study encouraged?
Ish Ploni ViKohen's user avatar
3 votes
1 answer
546 views

May I play a computer game which includes Greek mythological creatures?

I sometimes play a computer role-playing game (RPG) in which my character fights creatures and retrieves treasure. But some of the creatures are derived from Greek mythology. Is it still permissible ...
unforgettableidSupportsMonica's user avatar