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August 9, 2015 / conservadox

Dvar Torah- Reeh (by coincidence my bar mitzvah portion)

This coming week’s portion urges the Jews to tear down graven images etc. created by the Canaanites, and even to :destroy their name” (Deut. 12:3).  Acording to Ibn Ezra this means to expunge them from memory.

Even though Christians are not Canaanites, we do face halachic questions sometimes that are sort of related to this concept.  For example, at shul this week (not at home, but in my hometown which I am visiting) someone spoke about this situation: he was at a Catholic university taking courses and there were enough Jews for a minyan in a classroom.  The problem: the classrooms had graven images of Jesus.  Do you:

a) do nothing about it, since Christianity isn’t really idolatry;

b) cover the image, since it is still foreign enough to Judaism that you don’t want to be exposed to it

c) pray so that you are not facing the image.

I actually was in a similar situation when visiting a friend’s house and picked B.  But the speaker contacted a rabbi with a different view: he said that covering the image meant you would have to uncover it, so it was sort of honoring Jesus.  So the best answer is option C.

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