24 votes
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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 ...
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  • 6,069
21 votes

Why isn't the Kabbalistic doctrine of Sefirot considered Shittuf if the Christian Trinity is?

The straightforward answer to this question is that whereas the Christians are discussing what Hashem is made up of, the Kabbalists are discussing the ways in which He chose to reveal Himself. Just ...
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  • 4,691
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 ...
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  • 2,883
14 votes
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is it permitted to make a snowman?

According to Volume 3 Issue 8 of "Halachicly Speaking" (page 3) it is permissible for two reasons: No one bows down to snowmen A snowman does not last for very long.
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14 votes
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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 ...
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  • 7,392
12 votes
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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 ...
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  • 3,784
12 votes
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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 ...
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11 votes

Is it permitted for a Ben-Noach be an atheist?

As far as I'm aware, just about every posek assumes that all nations are obligated to believe in God in some way or another. This is stated explicitly by Rav Shmuel ben Hofni Gaon (commentary to ...
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11 votes
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Does Maimonides Allow Prayer to Angels?

There is indeed at least unnamed but very early Rabbi who believed this prayer to be proof that there's no prohibition of praying to angels. See the responsum published by Simcha Emanuel in Hamayaan, ...
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10 votes

Providing services to a forbidden ceremony

There are two concerns here: chanufa, which means telling a sinner that you approve of their sinful action; and mesayea / lifnei iver, being involved in (or enabling) someone else's sin. For a rabbi ...
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10 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 ...
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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, ...
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9 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 ...
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  • 43.7k
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 ...
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  • 43.7k
9 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 ...
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  • 4,149
9 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 "-...
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  • 292
8 votes
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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 ...
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  • 2,581
8 votes

What exactly do Noahides do?

Writing as a ben Noach, there is no definitive answer on what we do; only what we can't do(save setting up a court). Bnei Noach can do whatever they want as long as they don't transgress the seven. ...
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  • 1,297
8 votes

Is Buddhism Avodah Zarah?

Interestingly, I haven't seen too much discussion of Hinduism or Buddhism in halakhic sources, despite their prevalence and what I agree seems to be some halakhic ambiguity. (Eisenstein has an entry ...
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8 votes

Why isn't it considered idol worship to give respect to the torah?

As the Rambam codifies in Hilchos Avoda Zara 3:5, only four activities are "objectively" idolatry when done in honor of something other than G-d, and forbidden to do to any idol. 1) Prostration, 2) ...
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8 votes
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Christmas and Ex-mas

There are people who don't like saying "Christ", and therefore don't like saying "Christmas." If you don't have a strong secular education, you'd assume that "X" just means "fill-in-the-blank", so "X-...
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  • 127k
8 votes
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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. ...
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8 votes
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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 ...
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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 ...
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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 ...
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7 votes

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

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 ...
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7 votes
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How did the Tammuz die?

Tammuz originated as a Sumerian shepherd god. In Babylonia, the month Tammuz was established in honor of the eponymous god Tammuz, who originated as a Sumerian shepherd-god, The idolatrous ritual of ...
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7 votes

Christmas and Ex-mas

The word Christ comes from the Greek Χριστός, and the initial letters, ΧΡ (chi rho), was a common abbreviation in handwritten manuscripts and a symbol for Christianity. The English Xmas as an ...
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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 ...
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7 votes
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New Year Eve Fireworks

See this article which analyzes part of Igrot Moshe on the topic of New Year's celebrations in general. While you should read the whole article, I'm excerpting the part that I believe is most ...
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