Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Praying in a room with an idol


May I pray in a room which contains a symbol of idolatry?

When Moshe wished to pray to G-d to end the plague of Hail, he left the city; a midrash in the Mechilta explains that Moshe did not wish to pray in Egypt, with its proliferation of idols. Beyond this midrash, we are concerned lest we appear, G-d forbid, to be praying to the idol or its symbol. Therefore, one should not pray in a space which contains symbols of idolatry.

One who has no other option, such a patient in a hospital room containing such symbols, may pray in such a space; he should endeavour to demonstrate, perhaps via his posture, that he is not praying to the idol. Note that not all religious emblems are considered "symbols of avodah zarah"; a competent halachic authority should be consulted.

The same rules pertain to Torah study in such a space.

(Rashi Shemot 12:1; Terumas haDeshen 1:6; Melamed l'Hoil 2:54; Chelkas Yaakov Orach Chaim 33; Siach Yitzchak 45; Tzitz Eliezer 12:15)

Have a great day,

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