Category Archives: Archives 5770

Elul 5770 – Avoda Zara

Elul 5770
Avoda Zara
Rabbi Aaron Tendler

Lichvod Rabbi Tendler,

I met a Jewish girl who claims she is an atheist – she is obviously not religious at all. But she has a budha in her house. She says that she meditates in front of the budha and asks it questions sometimes and it gives her answers in her meditation, she claims that she does not worship it. Am I allowed to go to her house? Should I befriend her more? Please help!


Thank you!
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Thank you for your question.

Your question reminds me of the expression- “If it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck- it’s a duck!”

Your friend may say that she does not worship this Budha statue, but if she asks it questions and claims it gives her answers- she is claiming it has supernatural powers and this would be Avoda Zara. It would be permitted to go into her house, because it does not qualify as a Bais Avoda Zara, whose primary purpose is idol worship. However, you should not be there when she is meditating, because if you are watching her do this and not stopping her, it’s as if you are saying what she is doing is OK. I cannot answer whether or not you should befriend her more without knowing you and her better. If there is concern that your relationship with her will be detrimental to you in any way, you certainly should not befriend her more.

Take care,
Rabbi Aaron Tendler

Tammuz 5770 – Email Sent On Shabbos By A Non-Religious Jew

Tammuz 5770
Email Sent on Shabbos by a non-Religious Jew
Rabbi Aaron Tendler

Lichvod Rabbi Tendler,

Am I allowed to respond to an email that was sent to me on Shabbos by a non religous Jew?

Thank you!

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Thank you for a very intriguing and interesting question.

In a situation where Melacha has been done by one Jew on behalf of another Jew, it will be forbidden to benefit from the Melacha even after Shabbos only if the following three conditions are met:

1. The Melacha that was done is considered a Melacha D’Oraysoh according to all opinions (see the Mishna Berura Siman 318:2).

2. The Melacha was done intentionally, despite the fact that the person who did it knew it was wrong.

3. There is an actual tangible benefit to the person for whom this was done (e.g. food was cooked for him/her on Shabbos, and by eating it they are benefiting from Melacha that was done on their behalf.)

In the case of an e-mail that was sent to you on Shabbos, in most cases none of the above conditions have been met. The act of sending an e-mail is not clearly an Issur D’Oraysoh in of itself. The probability is that the person who sent it did not realize they were doing something wrong. And finally, reading and responding to an e-mail is not necessarily a tangible benefit- it may be something that you have no benefit from (e.g. a bad joke, or a request for assistance) or may be something that you don’t appreciate at all (e.g. a bill).

Therefore, it would be permitted to respond to an e-mail sent to you on Shabbos, even if you know it has come from a non-religious Jew.

Take care,
Rabbi Aaron Tendler