25 votes
Accepted

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

The reason this is confusing is that in Biblical Hebrew, the plural can be used to denote a position of authority. For example, in Exodus 22 the Bible refers to a property owner in the plural even ...
N.T.'s user avatar
  • 8,714
16 votes

Would anybody be able to point me in the direction of legitimate Jewish meditation practices?

I would recommend R' Aryeh Kaplan's book, Jewish Meditation: A Practical Guide. It is halachically kosher and quite comprehensive If you are interested in more theoretical sources, same author has ...
gt6989b's user avatar
  • 3,099
14 votes
Accepted

Is there anyway to repent for proselytizing for idol worship?

The Rambam doesn't say that such a person is unable to repent, just that Hashem won't provide him an opportunity like He does for most people (אין מספיקין בידו לעשות תשובה). In halacha 6 there, the ...
Meir's user avatar
  • 9,416
12 votes
Accepted

is idolatry one of the noachide laws? there is a discrepancy between websites

The source for these laws is traditional from Chazal, and they explicitly list them in Sanhedrin 56a: תנו רבנן שבע מצות נצטוו בני נח דינין וברכת השם ע"ז גילוי עריות ושפיכות דמים וגזל ואבר מן החי ...
Cauthon's user avatar
  • 3,845
12 votes
Accepted

Source for it being a mitzvah to make fun of Avodah Zarah?

I'm quite surprised that in my below research, I did not see any references to the Gemara in Avodah Zarah 45b-46a (edit: I saw it mentioned as an aside in one source), which not only implies that it ...
רבות מחשבות's user avatar
10 votes

Where is it written that anger is like idolatry

It is a a baraita in Masekhet Shabbat 105b: המקרע בגדיו בחמתו והמשבר כליו בחמתו והמפזר מעותיו בחמתו יהא בעיניך כעובד ע"ז שכך אומנתו של יצה"ר היום אומר לו עשה כך ולמחר אומר לו עשה כך "If one ...
mbloch's user avatar
  • 51.9k
10 votes

How can people dance around bonfires on Lag Lo'Omer - it's darchei emori?

Merely dancing next to a bonfire has nothing to do the ways of the Emorites, nor is it a form of fire worship, if the dancer(s) has/have no such intent. The question is based on a misunderstanding of ...
IsraelReader's user avatar
  • 4,989
10 votes

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

Often I see ignorant skeptics of the Torah as using this argument to "prove" that Judaism adopted terms from polytheism, but this not at all the case. The reason why Elohim ends with "-...
Adam's user avatar
  • 329
9 votes

Is practicing Yoga against Torah?

The Lubavitcher Rebbe wrote the following letter: By the Grace of G-d Teveth, 5738 MEMORANDUM It is well known that certain oriental movements, such as Transcendental Meditation (T.M.), Yoga, Guru, ...
ertert3terte's user avatar
  • 40.5k
9 votes
Accepted

Was Baal worshiped via child sacrifice?

The prophet Jeremiah (19:5) clearly identifies the baal as one of the gods to which the Caananites offered their children: וּבָנוּ אֶת בָּמוֹת הַבַּעַל לִשְׂרֹף אֶת בְּנֵיהֶם בָּאֵשׁ עֹלוֹת ...
Bach's user avatar
  • 2,723
9 votes

Ramban and Shituf. What is his position?

R' Yaakov Kaminetzky discuses the opinion of Ramban in his Emes LiYaakov, parshas ViEschanan 4 19 on the verse וראית את השמש ואת הירח גו׳ אשר חלק ה׳ אלקיך אתם לכל העמים תחת כל השמים. He says there ...
user6591's user avatar
  • 33.6k
9 votes

Why is asking for a bracha allowed?

The gemara in Bava Batra 116a says Anyone who has a sick person in his home should go to a sage, and the sage will ask for mercy on the sick person’s behalf, as it is stated: “The wrath of a ...
mbloch's user avatar
  • 51.9k
9 votes

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

R. Judah Halevi addresses this in Part IV of the Kuzari: The word has a plural form, because it was so used by gentile idolaters, who believed that every deity was invested with astral and other ...
Alex's user avatar
  • 49.3k
9 votes
Accepted

Is the following Trinitarian conceptual understanding of the deity polytheistic according to Jewish theology?

During the 1263 Disputation of Barcelona between Nachmanides and the Church of Aragon, Nachmanides was asked about the trinity (translation from the Jewish Encyclopedia): "Fra Pablo asked me in ...
Harel13's user avatar
  • 25.6k
8 votes

Ethics in video games: idol worship

A seemingly very similar question is posed by Rabbi Gil Student on his website https://www.torahmusings.com/2017/05/video-game-idolatry based on a version of the game Zelda. He goes through several ...
postinganonymously's user avatar
8 votes
Accepted

Sources on the Rogochover and Islam

In the book "Shu"t Ach Tov Leyisrael" by Rabbi Efraim Kachlon, he has a siman discussing the potential Avodah Zara status of Islam, and he mentions this claim about the Rogatchover (pg. ...
Harel13's user avatar
  • 25.6k
8 votes
Accepted

Which ancient cults would cut out the hearts of live animals and offer them as sacrifices?

A possible answer: Rambam on the mishnah states that this was done as part of worship of Baalim. The city of Baalbek, which was originally a Baal center of worship, eventually became a center of ...
Harel13's user avatar
  • 25.6k
8 votes
Accepted

Why is the Trinity considered polytheistic in traditional Jewish thought?

Let's stop and think for a moment: "Aquinas goes to great lengths" - if the trinity was pure monotheism, why would one have to go to great lengths to prove it was so? And this is consistent ...
Harel13's user avatar
  • 25.6k
7 votes

How could Yaakov name his children Gad and Dan?

In my newest book, God versus Gods: Judaism in the Age of Idolatry (Mosaica Press, 2018) on pg. 322, I address this question: R. Chaim Palagi (1788–1868) asks why Jacob allowed his son to be called ...
Reb Chaim HaQoton's user avatar
7 votes

Dipping fingers in Havdalah Wine

An early source for this is the Pirkei D'Rabbi Eliezer (ch. 20) which states that it is a mitsvah to add some water to the havdala cup and drink it to show love for the mitsvot, and to put some of the ...
mevaqesh's user avatar
  • 35.6k
7 votes

May a Jew be a Freemason?

R. Hayyim Joseph David Azulai tangentially discusses this in his diary. In the entry for April 18, 1774 he writes: ומה אספר ורבו כמו רבו הענינים ופרטים בפרט וכלל רק את זה אומר שלילה א' אחר חצות ...
Alex's user avatar
  • 49.3k
7 votes

May a Jew be a Freemason?

Freemasonry is considered by some to be Luciferian (1). When witchcraft was legalized in the U.K., see here, Wicca copied the rituals of Freemasonry as their own magick rituals. It's based on ...
Book Binder's user avatar
7 votes

Is there a problem with saying "for Pete's sake"?

Referring to the names of men or women made deities is not problematic. See Shulchan Aruch Yoreh Dei'ah 147:2. The problem is that Beis Yoseif there quotes Rabeinu Yerucham (TAvC 17:5 [159c]) who ...
Shaul Goldman's user avatar
7 votes

Is Islam Avodah Zara?

Many jewish/rabbinical sources state that it is. https://web.archive.org/web/20210226122037/https://www.jerusalem-herald.com/single-post/2017/12/13/is-islam-idolatry "it appears that a legal ...
barlop's user avatar
  • 2,117
7 votes
Accepted

Why does specifically searching for a white chicken for kapparos "resemble the Amorites"?

According to the Mishnah in Avodah Zarah 1:5, white chickens are singled out as items associated with idol worship, especially when the person is looking specifically for them. Making an issue of the ...
Isaac Kotlicky's user avatar
7 votes
Accepted

May one immerse in a body of water that was used for baptism?

A private mikvah used for baptism would be prohibited. As per BT Avodah Zarah p.58B and 59A, though, a body of water in the public domain cannot become prohibited, see discussion below: ר"ל איקלע ...
יהושע ק's user avatar
7 votes
Accepted

Is friendship with Christians and other idolaters permitted?

The Talmud says that if a non-Jew is destitute, we must provide charity; if ill, we tend to them; if they die without relatives, we bury them. This applies even to downright pagans, and certainly to ...
Shalom's user avatar
  • 133k
7 votes

Source for it being a mitzvah to make fun of Avodah Zarah?

Megillah 25 B מר רב נחמן כל ליצנותא אסירא בר מליצנותא דעבודת כוכבים דשריא דכתיב (ישעיהו מו, א) כרע בל קרס נבו וכתיב (ישעיהו מו, ב) קרסו כרעו יחדיו לא יכלו מלט משא וגו' ר' ינאי אמר מהכא (הושע י, ה) ...
Daniel Ross's user avatar
  • 1,931
7 votes

How can people dance around bonfires on Lag Lo'Omer - it's darchei emori?

Rabbi Yechezkel Abramsky, in his commentary 'Tosefta Chazon Yechezkel' on the Tosefta, explains that the manner in which one qualifies for 'the ways of the Emorites' would be by dancing in order to ...
Dr. Shmuel's user avatar
7 votes

What is in greater violation of the prohibition of blasphemy: Atheism vs Avoda Zara?

Rambam in Guide for the Perplexed 1:36 writes as follows: How great, then, must be the offence of him who has a wrong opinion of God Himself, and believes Him to be different from what He truly is, i....
Alex's user avatar
  • 49.3k

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