Ask the Rabbi

  • Halacha
  • Idols and Idolatry

Brands using cross in image


Rabbi David Sperling

Tishrei 25, 5773
Hello, Is is permissible to buy luggage or briefcases in which the brand uses a cross as its symbol, which is clearly visible on the outside of the item? For example: Wenger makes sturdy briefcases, but uses the Swiss image of a cross in its brand image.
Shalom, The use of the cross - which is of course a Christian symbol - is widely discussed in halacha. When the cross is one that people bow to, or use in their worship, then there are serious halachic problems with owning such an item. However, when the cross is clearly not for worship, but only a symbol used to recall their religion, such as on the Swiss flag, or embossed onto the coins or emblems of certain countries, it is permitted. (See the Shulchan Aruch, Yoreh Deah, 141 - as well as Otzar Avodah Zarah, chapter 5 - Rav M. Peretz). Nonetheless, it is well known that many rabbis were particular not to have any crosses at all in their possession. I personally saw HaRav Mordechai Eliyahu zt"l examine patterned materials to determine if the pattern inadvertently included crosses. The founders of the city of Petach Tikvah went so far as to make sure that no two streets crossed each other in a way that would create a cross (this explains some of the unique traffic situations in that holy city!). All this is not the strict letter of the halachic law, which as I wrote allows these non-worshiped crosses, but an effort to distance oneself from any connection to other religions. This may be praiseworthy, but is certainly not an obligation. Therefore, if the symbol on the luggage is clearly not one that anyone would ever worship (and I have never heard of any worship of flags, or luggage), it is permitted to own and use such items. If however you feel uncomfortable, or think it might look inappropriate for a Jew to use such a thing, then it would be correct to buy different luggage with no crosses on it at all. Blessings.
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