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Am I allowed to enter a church or mosque?

by Rabbi Naftali Silberberg

  

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Entering a mosque does not pose a problem, since Islam is based on a belief in the one-and-only G-d.


Entering a Church however, is problematic as Christianity is based on belief in the Trinity, a concept in which G-d is not 'one-and-only' but has partners as well.


[According to many Halachic authorities, belief in the trinity is only forbidden for a Jew. A non-Jew may follow these tenets since belief in the omnipotent G-d is still present.]


Therefore, it is forbidden for a Jew to enter the sanctuary of the church, i.e. where the actual prayer services are held. This could be misinterpreted as identification with the philosophy. However, it is permitted to enter other rooms in a church for non-religious purposes.

TAGS: church, mosque

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COMMENTS

Going into a Church

Posted by: Anonymous, Brooklyn, New York on Jan 23, 2005

I am going into a church in a few weeks for my adopted Niece's comfirmation (She asked me to be there) and I also asked my Rabbi if it is Okay and he said that he has no problem with that. If my Rabbi has no problem then I do not think it would be a problem with you.

Editor's Comment

A Rabbi is not meant to decide the Law based on his opinion, rather he is meant to convey the Divine opinion of the holy Torah.

This isn't a case of "our rabbi disagreeing with your rabbi." It is an instance of a rabbi who apparently has decided that certain laws of the Torah are not germane today -- which is what the Conservative and Reform movement maintain. We, on the other hand, present the ageless wisdom of the Torah as it is written in the Code of Jewish Law.


Comment on the Editor's Comment

Posted by: Harel Newman, Chicago, Illinois on May 01, 2005

I may be mistaken, but isn't Halachic tradition commentary on the Torah, not the Torah itself? If so, then whatever Halachic commentator's say cannot be taken as infallible. Also, I am familiar with the concept of the oral Torah, but oral traditions sometimes change over time because of human error. In my mind the rabbi who advised that going to a confirmation is not a sin is right. Also, one thing I highly disaprove of is when many Jews make assumptions about other religions from the point of view of a Jew and not that of a member of the religion they are observing. I have gone to Catholic schools for several years and understand the Catholic point of view on the Trinity. The Trinity is best described as a three-branched tree. The three-branched tree as one whole is G-d, and each of the branches is one part of the Trinity. The tree wouldn't be a three-branched tree (G-d) if it didn't have all three branches, just as each branch wouldn't exist if it wasn't connected to the whole.

Editor's Comment

1. The Halachic tradition is also part of Torah; see What exactly is the Oral Torah, and what's its connection to the Written Torah?

2. Some Jewish customs may have changed or evolved, but the Halachah itself has never changed one iota. That which was prohibited 2000 years ago is still prohibited today!

3. The concept of a Trinity is foreign to the Jew who believes that G-d is One and Indivisiable, and not made up of various components.


Entering a mosque

Posted by: Anonymous, Montreal, Quebec, Canada on Aug 31, 2005

I stand to be corrected but I remember hearing a few years ago from a certain noted lecturer that today entering a mosque is also forbidden. He explained that although Maimonodies permits it nevertheless later Rabbis forbade it, explaining that since Islam subsequently started using the moon and stars as their symbol, it somehow reflects some sort of idol worship in which people worship the moon and stars which thus forbids entering a mosque like a church.

Editor's Comment

Although there are opinions that it is forbidden to enter a mosque (Responsa Tzitz Eliezer vol. XXIV s. 91), it is apparent that many (if not most) Halachic authorities disagree with this stance (Responsa Yabia Omer vol. VII Yoreh Deah s. 12).

Followup to the response on prohibition of Church entry,

Posted by: Marvin Moskowitz, North Hollwood, CA on Sep 19, 2005

Although it is difficult for me to understand a Trinity being aligned with the the concept of One G-d, I imagine many could say it is no different than the Sephirot in Kabbalah - different aspects of one being. Far more difficult for me is the statues of the saints who (especially in the case of Mary) are prayed to directly. This is very hard for me to distinguish from idol worship and made me extremely uncomfortable the two times I entered Catholic churches in order to eulogize dear friends.

Editor's Comment

Judaism doesn't believe that there are different aspects to G-d; He is utter Unity, not a composite entity. While it is impossible to address the subject of the Sefirot in this limited space, suffice it to say that they are NOT G-d's essence, they are merely powers which He created and through which He expresses Himself, and we certainly don't pray to them,

Comment about comment on entering mosque

Posted by: Simon, Bromsgrove, United Kingdom on Sep 22, 2005

Im a muslim, and i find it quite offensive when someone tells me I worship the moon and the stars. The cresent moon and star symbol has nothing to do with Islam. you will not find these symbols in a mosque, nor do muslims take them as a religious symbol, like the cross with the christians, or the star of david with israel. The cresent moon and star are symbols that were bore on the standards of the ottomans, and is a symbol of the ottoman dynasty, hope thats cleared up any misunderstanding, as in Islam polytheism, idol worship and paganism of anyform is unnacceptable, it is known as Shirk and the only unforgivable sin, the oneness of G-d (tawheed) is one of the most fundamental concepts of Islam.

moon and stars

Posted by: Anonymous, Dubai, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates on Oct 30, 2005

i agree with mr.simon. we, muslims we never worship moon or stars. even our prophet muhammad peace be upon him, hates worshipping astronomical objects.

entering a mosque or church

Posted by: Anonymous, Plainview, NY on Nov 23, 2005

rabbi n. silberberg got it right. the reader who is offended at it being impermissible to enter a church is dead wrong. as my orthodox syrian rabbi explained to me (affirming rabbi silberbergs position) a mosque does not pose a problem basically because muslims believe in the one true g-d, basically the same g-d. christians, as rabbi silberberg stated, believe in a trinity, which is polytheistic. one could try to have it both ways and say it is monotheistic and explain the three in one concept but that does not wash with me. ask a christian who they worship and they will say jesus, a human. in fact there are representations of mere people in churches that catholics worship. this is contrary to judaism and islam. the christian god is not he same god as the jews and muslims and chritianity is in fact a polytheistic religion that is trying to have it both ways. therefore entering a church is not permissible and a rabbis personal opinion to the contrary is invalid.

About the Church

Posted by: Dalia, NY, NY, USA on Dec 12, 2005

I wrote this a while back:

"It's amazing how little power a church over me has- in fact, it has absolutely none at all.

I don't have an urge to block my ears when I hear Christian singing (in fact, I've come to appreciate it) I don't turn away when I hear a sermon (I'm actually interested in other religions), and I don't regard those beautiful sanctuaries all over the world with hidden scorn (they're marvelous structures, truly)>

But I do know that a church has no sway over me. I do not feel a small jump in my heart when I see one, and I don't have a sudden urge to turn away. Instead, I have a prelude of a Jewish song (and this is actually true) before I see a church. It seems to me that this is like a soft message from G-d, reminding me about my Jewish identity and how I love it...because I do. And so, the church does come into view, I am not moved by its presence."

So can't we go into a synagaouge if we aren't moved by the church's qualities in no way whatsoever?

Can a Muslim visit a Synagogue?

Posted by: Dawood Musa, Kenya on Jan 27, 2006

I'd like to know, as a muslim, is it permisable for me to visit a Synagogue?

The people at AskMoses are doing a great job. Keep up the good work.

Editor's Comment

Certainly.

Entering a Synagogue, Church, or Mosque.

Posted by: Sharon, Canada on Mar 16, 2006

I have read the comments each has posted. It's amazing to read about everyones beliefs. Whether they should or should not enter anothers house of worship. I don't understand why it can be so offensive to enter anothers house. Do you really believe something would happen by doing this? Are your beliefs so fragile, that they would not survive by doing such any act. For me just because I enter someone else house, does not mean I have to give up all my beliefs, I respect others for there own. G-d has created ALL of us, but all of us are totally different, different races and of course religions. And I believe this was G-d's plan for humanity. How can we assume that each of us are the only one's with the right relgion? I truly feel that when we are at home with G-d, all races, with all the different religions will be in one house, G-d's house, to worship G-d in the way he meant us while here walking on earth. I am sorry if I have offended anyone. But this is just MY belief. Be well.

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Jewish Identity » Non-Jews » Other Religions - Missionaries

Halachic
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