Questions tagged [avodah-zarah]

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

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51
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16answers
15k views

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 ...
13
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3answers
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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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4answers
2k views

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 ...
20
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4answers
1k views

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 ...
36
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5answers
2k views

While playing a computer game, may I “worship” one of the game's “gods” to help me win?

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 and ...
26
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5answers
2k views

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 ...
11
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2answers
654 views

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 ...
8
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2answers
1k views

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 ...
10
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1answer
620 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?
8
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1answer
478 views

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 ...
21
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4answers
2k views

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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3answers
3k views

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 ...
23
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9answers
6k views

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 ...
23
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3answers
2k views

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 ...
14
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3answers
732 views

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 ...
4
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3answers
452 views

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 ...
10
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4answers
396 views

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 ...
9
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2answers
716 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 ...
9
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3answers
1k views

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 ...
7
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2answers
604 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 ...
6
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3answers
2k views

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 ...
14
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4answers
739 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?
6
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3answers
784 views

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 "...
3
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1answer
267 views

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 ...
24
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9answers
5k 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 ...
15
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5answers
841 views

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 ...
15
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1answer
476 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 ...
14
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2answers
1k views

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,...
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6answers
4k 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 good ...
6
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2answers
841 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?
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2answers
1k 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 ...
2
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2answers
152 views

Was Avodah Zara (idolatry) Effective?

For centuries Idol Worship was extremely popular across the ancient world & even in the Jewish community. I highly doubt that all these people were busy building & worshipping statutes based ...
7
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2answers
692 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 ...
5
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3answers
851 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 ...
11
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5answers
2k 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 ...
10
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4answers
2k 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 ...
10
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2answers
2k 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?
7
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3answers
276 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 ...
14
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3answers
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?
11
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3answers
608 views

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 ...
4
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3answers
481 views

Is tai chi considered avodah zara?

Is tai chi considered avodah zara? It might have some roots in buddhism and/or taoism, but is it still avodah zara if I am only interested in the physical benefits of tai chi? I checked out the three ...
3
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4answers
338 views

Is it idolatry to use the english word “God” to refer to Hashem?

Shabbos 67b says "Gad" (גד) was the name of an Amorite idol, and we shouldn't use it. Shouldn't this apply to the name "God" as well? eg. "God forbid"
2
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1answer
362 views

What are the issues with singing in a secular choir that includes some Christian music?

If one sings in a secular choir (consisting of both Jews and gentiles) that performs in secular locations and contexts (such as concert halls, public plazas, nursing homes, etc), what are the issues ...
2
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2answers
575 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?
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2answers
329 views

Does demolishing idolatry require specific authority?

Is a command from legal authorities required to demolish idols? Moreover, what counts as a legal authority in such a case? e.g: You may find many Idols of Jesus in churches in the biblical Israel , ...
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6answers
11k views

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 ...
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3answers
2k views

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 ...
15
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5answers
4k views

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 ...
14
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1answer
886 views

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, ...
11
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1answer
359 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 ...