Saturday, November 2, 2013

Producing the forms of idols


The Torah's 27th mitzvah (in the Sefer haChinuch's count) prohibits a Jew from manufacturing or owning idols, and the Torah's 39th mitzvah forbids the creation of three-dimensional forms of human beings, whether for worship or for general enjoyment.

Animal forms may be sculpted, so long as they are only intended for enjoyment rather than worship.

In addition, our sages have understood the biblical text to prohibit creating forms of celestial bodies and angels, as well as human beings. The prohibition even includes creating forms mimicking the different parts of the Beit haMikdash.

There is some dispute regarding producing an idol which will not be worshipped. Rambam ruled that forming an idol is prohibited regardless of the idol's purpose; Ramban ruled that forming an idol is prohibited only if the intent is for worship. If an item has been worshipped by non-Jews in the past, but its own followers have rejected it, then that item does not retain the status of an idol.

Have a great day,

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