Monday, October 29, 2007

Buddhism and Avoda Zara

From a recent Ask the Rabbi in the Jerusalem Post. The rabbi in question is Rabbi Chaim Brovender, president of the ATID Foundation ( and Rosh Yeshiva of Web Yeshiva.

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.

If you ate an orange, I do not Imagine that Avoda Zara was the problem.