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