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Is there a problem with portrait painting or human statues?


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Rabbi Jacobson: Welcome to askmoses. How can I be of help today?

Artist: Does Torah forbid a Jew to be a sculptor or a painter?

Rabbi Jacobson: no its not forbidden

Rabbi Jacobson: in making statues there are certain restrictions which a jew must comply with

Rabbi Jacobson: painting is no problem

Artist: Would a Jew be permitted to make a statue of another human being or a statue of an animal for the sake of arts?

Rabbi Jacobson: with certain limits

Rabbi Jacobson: u can't make make a full face of a human

Artist: so a statue of David in Italy would be a no-no in Israel even if it stand in museum

Rabbi Jacobson: a rabbi would have to make that decision, b/c some statues if they are a bbit 'damaged or the face is missiung a part it might be ok, so a rabbi would decide that in a case by case basis

Artist: Just one more question. Why is that OK to paint a human face but it is not OK to make a sculpture of it?

Rabbi Jacobson: the tosofot in tractate avodah zarah explains that a painting on a flat surface doesn't constitute any prohibition1

Artist: Thank you for you helpfull info

Artist: Have a good day

Rabbi Jacobson: no problem. Have a fabulous day. G-d bless you

[Ed. note: You may also want to read about: "What is idol worship?"]

All names, places, and identifying information have been changed or deleted in order to protect the privacy of the questioners. In order to preserve authenticity, the chat sessions have been posted with a minimum of editing. Please excuse typographical errors, missing punctuation, and/or grammatical mistakes which naturally occur in the course of informal chat sessions.


  • 1. See Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 168; Avodah Zarah 43a and Tosefot there; Yoma 54a and 54b and Tosefot there.


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