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Ask the rabbi Halacha Idols and Idolatry

carved images

Rabbi Yoel LiebermanIyyar 9, 5773
Dear Rabbi, I read in Shulchan Aruch 141 and Rambam Hilkhoth Avoda Zarah chapter 4 that it is forbidden to own carved out images of human beings even if they are just ornamental. I own a large collection of painted models of soldiers which I built myself before becoming religious. I invested a lot of time in them, and I was wondering if there is any heter that I can rely on to keep them or if I have to throw them out? What about childrens toys like action figures etc., are Jewish children not allowed to own them? Sincerely, Chaim
You have correctly read the Shulchan Aruch and Rambam that one may not make a sculpture of a person or to make a doll. Therefore, if you were to come today and ask if you may make those dolls you would be told not to. The question arises in regard to an incomplete human form and what is the Halacha to keep them in your home once they are made. If the human form is only of the upper half of the body or a profile in which only one eye and ear is seen and there is only one arm , there is no prohibition in making them or keeping them in your possession. Also, the minhag is to be lenient in regard to buying children's dolls to play with. ( ילקוט יוסף יור"ד סי' קמא:א, יביע אומר ח"ג סימן ח. וחלק י' חיו"ד דף שעב טור א ד"ה והנה. יחוה דעת חלק ג' סימן סד עמוד רג. ,שו"ת (בנין אב יור"ד ח"א סי' לז) As far as keeping the dolls which you made in your possession, there is further reason for leniency. The prohibition of keeping human forms in one's possession was because of the "Chashda" the suspicion of it being for idol worship. However, many poskim hold that today there is no reason for suspicion since idols for worship are usually distinct., therefore they may be kept in your possession. הנצי"ב ,העמק שאלה, סי' נז: ג, יביע אומר ח"ג סימן ח, כ' הגאון נחל אשכול על ס' האשכול ח"ג ,ס"ס נ , חכמת אדם כלל פה:ו ,הרב הרצוג זצ"ל הובא בתחומין ב, במראה הבזק ז)
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