Q: I was recently on a business trip, and while I found the city to be very nice etc., I am a bit concerned. I visited an Asian restaurant, not owned by Jews, (Under the local Rabbis) There seemed to be active idolatry taking place. There was a statue of Buddha, where they had placed a large bowl of oranges and burning incense right in the entrance to the place. At the end of the meal I was served oranges (Possibly ones that were previously in front of Buddha) Is this place considered a "Bais Avodah Zorah" ? And can a Jew eat there?
A: Avoda Zara should certainly be avoided. For that reason going into a Catholic church (perhaps real idolatry) is problematic. However, Buddism is different. There the reference is to a great religious teacher called "the enlightened one". It is hard to imagine why this might be called Avoda Zara. (Ask the rabbi, Jerusalem Post, Rabbi Chaim Brovender, Aug. 21, 2007)
Some may recall that during Cardinal Lustiger's funeral recently one commentator noted that the Conservative and Orthodox rabbis in attendance would not enter the Cathedral:
Inside the cathedral a special area was reserved in the front rows for "the Jewish Community." France's leading Reform rabbi, Daniel Fahri, was there with his wife, but no Conservative or Orthodox rabbi attended. "They wouldn't step foot in here," a friend confided to me ...
This is based upon the ruling of the most authoritative "sage" of Judaism, Moses Maimonides:
"The Christians are idolaters, and Sunday is their holiday..." (Maimonides, Mishneh Torah, Avodah Zorah, 9;4)
“The Christians are worshipers of Avodah Zarah” (Maimonides, Mishneh Torah, Ma'akhalot Assurot, 11:7)
It may interest "Judeo-Christians" to know that while "elder brother" Maimonides strictly maintained Christians to be idolaters, he ruled that Muslims are not idolators:
"These Muslims [Ishmaelim] are not in any way idolators. [Idolatry] has already been removed from their mouths and their hearts, and they unify G-d in the appropriate manner without any admixture [of idolatrous beliefs]." (Maimonides, Responsa, 448)
However, this should not be taken to mean that Islam should be tolerated according to Maimonides. In fact, Maimonides completely forbids Islam under Judaic rule (Mishneh Torah, Hilchot Melachim 8;11). Christians and Muslims would be forced to accept the Talmudic religion for goys, the "Noahide Laws." Christians who uphold the Trinity and the Divinity of Christ would be executed:
"... a gentile who worships false gods is liable, [for the death penalty] provided he worships them in the accepted manner. A gentile is executed for every type of foreign worship which a Jewish court would consider worthy of capital punishment." (Maimonides, Mishneh Torah, Hilchot Melachim 11)
I hope that this may shed some light upon the monstrous terms "Judeo-Christian tradition," and "elder brothers in the faith" and the crazy notion that "Israel" is a bulwark against the decline of Christian civilization.
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