Questions tagged [avodah-zarah]

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

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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 ...
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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
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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 ...
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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, ...
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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 ...
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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 ...
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Have Jews believed that Ezra was the son of God?

In reading the Qur'an, I noticed this passage: Qur'an 9:30 The Jews say, "Ezra is the son of Allah "; and the Christians say, "The Messiah is the son of Allah ." That is their statement from their ...
StackExchange saddens dancek's user avatar
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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 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
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Is a Jew allowed to be knighted? Problem with kneeling?

Is there any halachik problem with going through the knighting (or Damehood for women) process of kneeling etc? The current ceremony does not contain many of the Christian or pagan overtones of the ...
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May a Jew be a Freemason?

According to what I've been told by several people who have inquired of "practicing" (is that the right word?) Freemasons, and supported by Wikipedia, "Freemasonry explicitly and openly states that it ...
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Calling a Jew a "guru"?

Is it appropriate to use the term "guru" to refer to an expert in matters of Judaism or Jewish law on the assumption that it will be understood as the second definition here, or is it inappropriate no ...
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Is kneeling and bowing down in Kung Fu an idolatry (Avoda Zarah)?

I am exercising at Kung Fu's dojo and wonder whether kneeling and bowing down is an idolatry (Avodah Zarah)? The floor has soft mats. The reason explained to me is that it's done as a form of greeting ...
Roman Kagan's user avatar
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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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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?
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Can a Christian "Grace" invalidate food?

Suppose there's a communal meal in a secular workplace, at which some of the food is reliably kosher. Now suppose that right before anyone takes any food, one of the participants, to general assent, ...
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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 ...
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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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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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Is there a problem with saying "for Pete's sake"?

Is there a halachic issue with invoking the name "Peter," or, as is more commonly used, "oh, for Pete's sake!," which I assume is a reference to Saint Peter. Wikipedia agrees with this conjecture, ...
MTL's user avatar
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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
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When did idolatry begin, post-flood?

Related. Rambam famously describes how idolatry began in the days of Enosh (Hil. Avodah Zara 1:1-2) and finishes off by writing: "but the Rock of Ages, not a man was there to recognize Him or ...
Harel13'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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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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is it permitted to make a snowman?

Is it permitted to make a snowman? Or is it considered constructing a graven image? Prompted by this: http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/world-news/saudi-arabia-issues-fatwa---4967400
josh waxman's user avatar
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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 ...
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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
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How to Resolve Kiddush Levana and Celestial Worship, (Avodas Kochavim)?

In general Kiddush Lavanah has always seemed to me to be akin to "Avodas Kochavim" - so does anyone know of a satisfying answer that works with Occam's razor? More specifically: We say Just as I can ...
Aaron Greenberg's user avatar
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Did all of Bnei Israel worship the golden calf?

When Prophet Moses went up to the mountain, did all the people end up worshiping the cow, or were there some who remained aloof? What happened to such people who did not become idolaters? Were they ...
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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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Issachar's Banner in Halacha

Inspired by this answer. Bamidbar Rabbah 2:7 describes the symbol on Issachar's banner as the sun and the moon. I have researched the topic of what it is permitted to draw, and it seems that ...
Baby Seal's user avatar
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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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the tangled web of prophecy

The sages removed the inclination for idol worship (gemarah in Yoma) and subsequently prophecy ceased. It is postulated that the two are interconnected. Meaning that in order to maintain free will if ...
prophecy's user avatar
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Does “foreign religious obligation” = “Takruvas Avodah Zarah”?

Background: There is a verse in the Christian scriptures (Luke 6:30) that, when read out of context, implies that a follower of osso ha’ish should give anything anyone asks for. I had heard an urban ...
J. C. Salomon's user avatar
11 votes
3 answers
642 views

Pokemon Go and Churches

This is intended to be an academic question. All practical halachic questions should be decided based on a consult with your local Orthodox rabbi. Pokemon Go is a new game for smartphones where you ...
GFauxPas's user avatar
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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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1 answer
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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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Belief-with worship only towards HaShem - in the real existence of intermediaries between the Almighty and the Gentile Nations

I am an Italian Noahide. There are several discussions in this forum about shituf, understood as associating other entities with HaShem. Unless I am mistaken, it is generally held that on the halachic ...
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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
3 answers
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Is believing that God, Israel, and Torah are one Avodah Zarah?

The Zohar said that God, Israel, and Torah are one. I thought Judaism is strictly monotheistic. When Jesus said, "I and the father is one", he was being a heretic. So how come the Zohar includes even ...
user4951's user avatar
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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
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How could Yaakov name his children Gad and Dan?

Shabbos 67b says Gad was the name of an idol of the Amorites, and Dan was an idol of Samaria. If we're not supposed to even say the name of idols, how could Yaakov name his sons after them? (or is it ...
zaq's user avatar
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Asking non-Jews to pray for someone

Is it appropriate to ask non-Jews to pray on behalf of someone in dire straits (sick, wrongfully imprisoned, trapped, etc.)? Edit: If it's appropriate, would it be inappropriate if the person being ...
Seth J's user avatar
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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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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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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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Ramban and Shituf. What is his position?

The Ramban on Devarim 7:6 says: בך בחר ה' אלהיך להיות לו לעם סגלה שאין לך קצין שוטר ומושל בכל מלאכי מעלה אבל אתה סגולת ה' תחת ידו ולכך לא תטעה לעבוד ע"ז מאלהי העמים וכבר הזכרתי זה פעמים רבות ...
Menachem's user avatar
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Why didn't Rochel just destroy the idols?

Instead of stealing Lavan's idols (Bereshis 31:19), why didn't she merely destroy them?
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10 votes
2 answers
270 views

Their altars...and *his* asheirah?

Shemot 34:13: כִּי אֶת מִזְבְּחֹתָם תִּתֹּצוּן וְאֶת מַצֵּבֹתָם תְּשַׁבֵּרוּן וְאֶת אֲשֵׁרָיו תִּכְרֹתוּן For you shall dismantle their altars, break their monuments, and cut down his ...
MTL's user avatar
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10 votes
1 answer
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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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