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  • Halacha
  • Idols and Idolatry

Art & Avodah Zarah/Taliban statues

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Rabbi Jonathan Blass

26 Adar I 5763
Question
My question is: The Taliban had destroyed the huge statues in Afganastan 1] Would we consider those statues avodah zara, especially since it was ’mevutal’ by a muslim or can only a akum be mevatek and the muslim is like a jew for bitul. do statues in our time need bitul, since no one really worships them anymore ? 2] are art pieces in museums considered mevutal ? may one view them ie in a museum of natural history ? is seeing them a benefit that is forbidden ? Thank you
Answer
A Moslem- because he himself does not worship idols- does not have the ability to cancel the status of an idol (Bet Yosef Yoreh Deah 146 quoted in R’ma Yoreh Deah 146 5). An idol that is abandoned by its worshippers is no longer an object of worship and therefore you can enjoy their anthropological or artistic value when visiting a museum. There are however religions today that continue to worship idols and deriving enjoyment from these is still forbidden.
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