Drawing or Sculpting Forbidden Images
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- 1 Items Related to Idolatry
- 2 Non Idolatrous Images
- 2.1 Angels and Other Heavenly Entities
- 2.2 Sun, Moon, and Stars
- 2.3 Human Images
- 2.4 Animals and Plants
- 2.5 Replications of the Vessels of the Temple
- 3 Further Reading
- 4 Sources
Items Related to Idolatry
Constructing and Keeping Idols
- In addition to the prohibition of worshipping an idol, the Torah prohibits one from even constructing an idol even if one will not worship it himself as a means of distancing us from performing idolatry. Whether one receives Malkot for doing so is subject to debate.
- It is similarly prohibited to construct an idol for someone else, whether it be a Jew or non-Jew who’s instructing it be made.
- One may not even instruct another person to construct an idol for, and it even entails a punishment of Malkot.
- Therefore, one who constructs an idol for himself receives twice Malkot.
- All of these Issurim apply to all human beings, Jews and Non-Jews, regardless of gender.
- If one finds an object that might be an idol (a “Tzelem,” which might be a “Pesel” / Avodah Zarah), if it is commonly worshipped in that area, he may not keep it. The status of the cross is debated in this contex.
Symbols of Other Religions
- It is permitted to use and look at a stamp with a cross on it.
- According to many poskim if a person is given a medallion with a cross on it as an honor it is permitted to wear it when visiting a government or Church official.
- It is permitted to have and use a chess set even though the king piece has a cross on it.
- It is discouraged and most probably assur to manufacture miniature crucifixes, crosses, and other items used lichvod Avodah Zarah.
Non Idolatrous Images
- Lo Taasun Itti: The Torah prohibits constructing objects that replicate Hashem's "servants" even if it is not for idolatry but rather for décor.
- "Servants" includes:
- Inhabitants of the upper abode (Mador HaElyon) - Malachei HaSharet, Ofanim, Serafim, and Chayot HaKodesh (the four faces - a human, eagle, bull, and lion),
- Inhabitants of the lower abode (Mador HaTachton) - sun, moon, and mazalot
- The Beit HaMikdash and its vessels
- The Gemara presents three limits to this prohibition, which enable one to possess such an object if not make it as well: when it's made by somebody else (a Non-Jew), when it's made of many parts, and when it's made for instructional purposes. Some accept all three answers, while others only accept the final answer.
- Even if the item was made by someone else, if it protrudes, there is often an addition prohibiting component known as "Chashad" - that one is suspect of worshiping the image. Chashad applies to all images, not only those prohibited by function of Lo Ta'asun Itti. Although the Gemara states that a public setting ("Rabbim") removes the concern of Chashad, the Poskim write how employing that leniency is frowned upon.
- An image that physically protrudes is known as "Boletet," and one that is etched into a surface is known as "Shoka'at." Some consider painted images, images drawn with ink, and embroidered images to be protruding, but many disagree. Some argue photography is neither Boletet nor Shoka'at, because it's completely flat.
- Drawing an image of the sun to demonstrate what happens in Maaseh Bereshit to explain pesukim in the Torah is an example of instructional purposes. but sculpting a sculpture in a course to learn how is not.
Angels and Other Heavenly Entities
- The Torah prohibits constructing replicas of angelic beings such as Malachei HaSharet, Ofanim, Serafim, and Chayot HaKodesh (the four faces - a human, eagle, bull, and lion).
- Some argue that the prohibition not only includes constructing these entities, but possessing them, as well,, but others disagree.
- The Ramban and others hold that it is prohibited to construct replicas of upper heavenly entities even if they are two-dimensional, but many disagree. Nevertheless, one should be strict on the matter.
- If one finds such an object, he may benefit from it but not keep it.
Sun, Moon, and Stars
- It is forbidden to draw a sun, moon, or stars whether the image is a two dimensional or a three dimensional protruding image. This is because numerous Rishonim argue that the limits of the prohibition are informed by our human perception of the object that one is attempting to replicate. Since we see humans in three dimensions, producing a three dimensional human is prohibited, but a two dimensional one is not. In contrast, as we perceive celestial bodies as two dimensional, drawing even two dimensional images of the sun and moon is prohibited. Some disagree, but the Halacha follows the former.
- The Rambam holds that images of the sun and moon themselves are not prohibited, but, rather, the Torah prohibits drawing images of solar and lunar deities, idolatrous symbols of the sun and moon, such as “Ra,” the Egyptian sun god. The Halacha does not follow the Rambam, at least to be lenient.
- Although in general a partial/incomplete image is permitted to create or own, since we as humans observe the moon in its various stages, images of all of its stages are prohibited to create according to some Poskim. Some think that stringency does not apply to the sun, even though we observe a "partial" sun when it rises and sets at the horizon, while others prohibit it in all stages.
- Therefore, one shouldn’t teach children to draw the sun, moon, or stars in their complete form, because when they get older it will be prohibited for them, anyway.
- Some say that it is forbidden to create a temporary image of a sun, moon, or stars.
- One should not bake cookies in the shape of a moon.
- Stained glass windows in shul with the sun in the middle are a violation of both this prohibition as well as Chukot Akum.
- Taking a photo of the sun, moon, or stars and developing the negative may not be prohibited but printing it most probably is. Keeping it certainly is.
- The prohibitions of construction and possession only apply to whole images of humans, also known as a "Partzuf", not partial ones. That said, the Poskim debate the definition of partial. Most argue that "Partzuf" means the whole body and further debate that even omitting or removing a finger or limb suffices, while others argue that half the body must be removed, not just a minor appendage. Others argue that "Partzuf means" any figure that has a fully etched out face. This has relevance to coins with faces minted on them. However, if the image is only of one full side of a human (known by some as "profile"), it is permissible according to all opinions.
- Dolls and toys that are full images of humans may be purchased even if they protrude, because some say the chashad (concern people will suspect one) of worshipping human images no longer applies, plus everybody knows that dolls are not worshipped in general, they are not made in a permanent way, and they are "mevuzim" since they are thrown around and get dirty with play. The same goes for selling them. However, some recommend ruining a limb or part of the face, such as the nose. Some even permit manufacturing them, as well.
- This prohibition applies to oragami, as well.
- It is permitted to draw a two dimensional drawing of a person, therefore, it is permitted to take a picture of a person.
- Due to the Halachic debate as well as Kabbalistic concerns, when photography first became widespread, many Jews took a strict stance except when necessary or if it was a partial image, but over time that stringency has faded away with only some especially righteous individuals not allowing their picture to be taken. Nowadays, the universal practice is to allow one's picture to be taken and to take pictures of others, especially if the images are not of the whole front or back of the body.
- It is prohibited to construct a wax figure in the image of a human, but one may visit a wax museum provided the figures were produced by non-Jews. If they were made by Jews, though, some Poskim forbid it due to the Chillul Hashem of religious people coming to see items created in sin.
- One could justify possessing such a human image if it is placed in a public venue, such as a synagogue or cemetery. Although relying on that leniency is discouraged by many, poskim cite it to permit on to display a manikin in a store window, but many disagree and only allow a bust but not a full manikin.
- Some say one would have to give up his life (Kiddush Hashem) rather than violate this prohibition.
Animals and Plants
- It is permitted to construct an image of animals, vegetation, or scenery, either etched or protruding.
- Nevertheless, tradition and a sizeable group of Rishonim and Acharonim take serious issue with images of animals in synagogues, especially if they are on the Aron Kodesh, Parochet, or windows.
Replications of the Vessels of the Temple
- The Torah prohibits one from constructing exact replicas of the Mishkan, Beit HaMikdash, and their vessels, such as the Menorah, Shulchan, and Mizbeach.
- According to some Rishonim, even possessing any such object is Assur Min HaTorah, while some Poskim disagree.
- The Rambam placed these Halachot in Hilchot Beit HaBechirah (7:10), not in Hilchot Avodah Zara, potentially because he saw the issur to be a function of Mora Mikdash. Others suggest that it's because he includes building the vessels of the Beit HaMikdash in the grander Mitzvah of building the Beit HaMikdash itself, unlike the Ramban who thinks they are separate.
- Drawings of these are permitted, as well.
For Education Purposes
- Making a model to demonstrate what the Torah is referring to (i.e. educational purposes) is permissible.
Vessels of the Bet Hamikdash
- Ultimately, any deviation that would render a vessel invalid for Mikdash purposes renders it permissible to be construct outside of the Mikdash.
Making a Seven Branch Menorah
- It’s forbidden to make a menorah of seven branches even of other metals besides gold, even if it’s not 18 Tefachim tall, and even without the appropriate designs such as the flowers and bolts of the menorah. However, it’s permissible to make it out of wood or non-metals. Having curved as opposed to straight branches does not make it permissible.
- If one ends up in possession of a seven branch menorah, he should remove or add a branch. If there is no trunk and just seven branches coming out of a flat base, the prohibition does not apply, especially if they're not all in a straight row.
- Many poskim permit a seven branch electrical menorah, because the variation of electric bulbs as opposed to cup of oil with wicks is significant enough to avoid the issur. On this basis, a shul is allowed to keep such a Menorah if they end up in possession of it.
Replicating the Bet Hamikdash
- It is only forbidden to make the a house the dimensions of the Hiechal, a porch the dimensions of the Ulam, and a courtyard the dimensions of the Azara of the Bet Hamikdash. The dimensions of the Heichal in the second Bet Hamikdash were 60 amot by 20 amot by 40 amot tall. In the first Bet Hamikdash it was 30 amot tall and it is forbidden to replicate the dimensions of the first Bet Hamikdash as well. The Ulam was 90 amot by 11 amot by 40 amot. The Azara was 135 amot by 187 amot. If one alters the dimensions even slightly it is permitted.
- The prohibition applies whether or not one makes rooms or attaches it to another house. Making a structure that mimics the Ulam is forbidden whether it has 3 or 4 walls.
- There is no prohibition to make a courtyard mimicking the dimensions of Har Habayit.
- If a non-Jew made a courtyard or house according to these dimensions that replicate the Bet Hamikdash, some say that one can nonetheless live in it, while others forbid.
- Chut Shani, Pesach, pp. 223-241, by Rav Nissim Kareltz, Kuntress be'Assiyat Tzurot
- The Laws of Forbidden Images, by Rabbi Michoel Zylberman
- Halachically Speaking, Halachos of Forbidden Images
- Halachic Aspects of Taking Photos, Din Online
- Shiurim on Perek Kol HaTzlamim related to these Halachot
- Shemot 20:4
- Rambam Sefer HaMitzvot (Lo Taaseh 2), Mishneh Torah Hilchot Avodah Zarah 3:9. Note the different versions of translations in the former.
- Chinuch 27
- The Rambam ibid writes that one does get Malkot, but the Raavad argues it’s a lav shebechlalot.
- Rambam Sefer HaMitzvot (Lo Taaseh 3), Mishneh Torah Hilchot Avodah Zarah 3:10
- Rambam Sefer HaMitzvot (Lo Taaseh 2), Mishneh Torah (Hilchot Avodah Zarah 3:9). The Chinuch 27 is stunned that the Rambam considers asking someone else to construct an idol to be subject to Malkot, as it’s seemingly a Lav She’ein Bo Maaseh and Ein Shaliach leDvar Averah. The Lechem Mishneh (ad loc.) writes that since a Maaseh is being done on his behalf, this is considered like Shelichut, but the Minchat Chinuch (ad loc.) rejects that interpretation in favor of deeming this a Gezerat HaKatuv, not actual Shelichut. Both Rav Moshe Feinstein (Iggerot Moshe Yoreh Deah 2:55) and Rav Shlomo Wahrman (She’erit Yosef vol. 3 pg. 385) dismiss the above answers in favor of a closer read of the Rambam. To them, the Rambam is saying that there are two issurim, constructing an idol, and keeping and idol. The act of placing the idol in one’s domain is the Maaseh required to violate the Averah and be liable for Malkot.
- Rambam ibid, Chinuch 214
- Chinuch 27, Minchat Chinuch 27:7 and 39:12
- Avodah Zarah 40b, Shulchan Aruch (Yoreh Deah 141:1), Shach (Yoreh Deah 141:4)
- Igrot Moshe YD 1:69 writes that it isn't considered a violation of Al Tifnu El Haelilim to use a stamp with a cross on it. His reasons are: 1) Since the images are just used for decorations and not actually for religious purposes it is permitted to look at them (Tosfot Shabbat 149). 2) Since it is used all the time a person is used to that symbol (Tosfot Avoda Zara 50). 3) It isn't an deity it is just a symbol to remind them of their deity. 4) Since the stamps are disgraced by being marked up and also being thrown out that isn't considered something a person would worship.
- Rav Ovadia in Yechava Daat 3:65 permits wearing a medallion with a cross on it that was given to a person as an honor. He begins with the Rama YD 141:1 who writes that crosses are permitted in benefit since they're not avoda zara themselves. Although the Shach limits this to a case where you knew it wasn't worshiped but in general you have to assume that they were worshiped Rav Ovadia says that the Shach's concern doesn't apply to medallions. He also cites the Zera Emet 2:45 and Rav Chaim Palagi in Lev Chaim 3:100 who say that a jewelry with a cross isn't usually worshiped and can be worn if necessary.
- Rav Asher Bush in Shoel Bshlomo 1:60:2. His proofs are:
- Tosfot A"z 50 and Shabbat 149 by using coins with religious symbols on them say that they are muter since they are for decorative purposes and they are used all the time. Igrot Moshe YD 1:69 cites these Tosfots.
- He also cites Rav Ovadia in Yechava Daat 3:65 who permits wearing a medallion with a cross on it for the same reasons. He has many proofs but for one the Rama YD 141:1 who says crosses are muter bhanah if they weren't worshiped since they're not a"z themselves. Although the Shach 141:6 says you have to assume that they were worshiped but Rav Ovadia quotes the Zera Emet 2:45 who says that doesn't apply to medallions.
- He lastly cites Ritva A"Z 42b that crosses on cups are for decorative purposes and are permitted.
- See Ben Ish Chai (Shanah II, Masei 7), the exchange between Rav Ezra Hedaya and Rav Ben Tzion Meir Chai Uziel recorded in Nachalat Ezra (vol. 1 Yoreh Deah 2) and Mishpetei Uziel 2:17), Binyan Av 1:37, and Kovetz Teshuvot 3:120
- Shemot 20:20, Avodah Zarah 43ab, Rosh HaShanah 24b, Rambam (Sefer HaMitzvot, Lo Taaseh 4), Sefer HaChinuch 39, Shulchan Aruch Yoreh Deah
- The Sefer HaChinuch 39 explains that this is because only Hashem can create Man and instill intellect into him.
- the Ritva (Avodah Zarah 43b) surmises that one can even make it himself if it's in many parts, but he concludes stringently. Minchat Chinuch 39:2 opines that this is a standalone answer and it's permissible for one to even put the pieces together himself, most probably because they don't fit together so tightly.
- Rosh, Ran (Avodah Zarah 43b), Rama (Yoreh Deah 141:4)
- The Rif only quotes the final answer of Lehitlamed/Lehavin ul'horot (instructional purposes). Although the Rambam (Hilchot Avodah Zarah 3:11) omits all three of them, which leave the Kesef Mishneh confused. The Ran understands that he accepts the final one, but the Minchat Chinuch 39:2 thinks it's obvious that the Rambam accepts all three. Ultimately, Shulchan Aruch (Yoreh Deah 141:4) rules only like the lehitlamed answer, but the Rama fills the other two back in.
- Shulchan Aruch (Yoreh Deah 141:5)
- Rabbeinu Yerucham quoted in Bedek HaBayit (Yoreh Deah 141:4), Shach (Yoreh Deah 141:27)
- Ritva (Avodah Zarah 43b), Pitchei Teshuvah (Yoreh Deah 141:6)
- See Taz (Yoreh Deah 141:13) and Nekudot HaKesef ad loc. and Avnei Derech 5:11
- Yabia Omer (vol. 4 Yoreh Deah 22:3, vol. 11 Orach Chaim 53), Yechave Da'at 3:63, Halichot Olam (vol. 7 pg 282, Masei 4)
- Shevet HaLevi 7:134:8, Iggerot Moshe yd 3:33, Halichot Olam (vol. 7 page 288)
- Chatam Sofer Yoreh Deah 128, Pitchei Teshuvah (Yoreh Deah 141:8*). That's learning to make (Lilmod Laasot). Although, leaving the last few parts for someone else to finish might be permissible
- See Tosafot 43b the other Rishonim ad loc, Minchat Chinuch 39:3, and Iggerot Moshe (Yoreh Deah 2:55) at length regarding the overlap between Chayot and humans.
- Ran (Avodah Zarah 43b)
- Tur (Yoreh Deah 141) as explained by Beit Yosef
- Ramban, Rashba, Ritva (Avodah Zarah 43b and Rosh HaShanah 24b)
- Tosafot, Tur, Shulchan Aruch (Yoreh Deah 141:4)
- Taz (Yoreh Deah 141:12), Nehar Mitzrayim (Avodah Zarah 5)
- Rama (Yoreh Deah 141:4), Shach (Yoreh Deah 141:24)
- Rabbeinu Tam, Ri, and Riva quoted by Tosafot (Rosh HaShanah 24b, Avodah Zarah 43b), Rosh (Avodah Zarah 3:5), Mordechai (Avodah Zarah 839), Ritva (Rosh Hashanah 24b), Rambam (Hilchot Avodah Zarah 3:11)
- Ramban, Raavad (Hilchot Avodah Zarah 3:11), Rashba (Rosh Hashanah 24b), Ran (Avodah Zarah)
- Shulchan Aruch (Yoreh Deah 141:4)
- Rambam (Perush HaMishnah Avodah Zarah 3:3, quoted by Rama (Yoreh Deah 141:4) lehalacha, but the Shach (Yoreh Deah 141:8) and GRA (Yoreh Deah 141:7) take up arms that the Rambam's shitah is quite difficult in light of the sugya.
- Shach Yoreh Deah 141:25 writes that any of the pictures that are forbidden to draw are only forbidden if they are done completely but not if you only draw a part of it.
- Minchat Chinuch 39:9. Darkei Teshuva 141:38 cites a dispute between the Alsheich (teshuva 77) and Maharit YD 35 whether drawing a part of the moon is permitted, the Alsheich is lenient while the Maharit is strict. Finally he added the Shoel Umeishiv 3:71 and Amudei Esh 16:2 who are strict. See Halichot Olam (vol. 7 pg 286) who quote some who said the Alsheich said the opposite.
- Shevet HaLevi (vo. 7 Siman 134:7
- Minchat Yitzchak 10:72, Yabia Omer (vol. 10 Yoreh Deah 58:6, pg 372), Halichot Olam (vol. 7 pg 286) As an interesting application of these principles, Rav Chaim Palagi in Ruach Chaim YD 141:2 asks how were they allowed to have a picture of the sun on the tombstone of Yehoshua like Rashi Yehoshua 24:30 writes? Tzitz Eliezer 9:44 answers: 1) It wasn't protruding, so according to the Rishonim who permit an etched in sun, it was ok. 2) Others made it and this in public 3) The effect of causing agony of the loss of such a special person is lilmod, just like Rav Chaim Palagi writes about image of Avraham Avinu as a symbol of monotheism - they were lax in Yehoshua's hesped, so this was a teshuvah. 4) The Rambam writes that only the symbolism of the sun is prohibited, not a circle. 5) There were no solar rays included. 6) It was a piece of pottery (he was buried in Timnat Cheres, where the sun (symbolized by pottery/cheres) was worshipped), not an actual sun. See Yabia Omer ibid for some discussion of his answers.
- Igrot Moshe OC 5:9:6 writes that once a child reached the age of chinuch they should be taught not to draw a picture of a sun, moon, or star. If their drawing is so inaccurate that most adults couldn’t tell what it was then it is permitted but still an adult shouldn’t teach children to draw that because they will grow up thinking that it is permitted and do so when their drawing skills improve. Star-K writes that perhaps making a cake in the shape of a sun (circle with cookie sticks as rays) is permitted since it isn't an accurate representation.
- Minchat Yitzchak 10:72 writes that it is forbidden to temporarily create the image of a sun or moon since it is considered an asiya (creation). See however Darkei Teshuva 141:27.
- Shevet HaLevi 7:134:10, Avnei Derech 9:106
- Chatam Sofer (Yoreh Deah 129), Pitchei Teshuvah (Yoreh Deah 141:3)
- Shevet Halevi 7:134:6. See Minchat Yitzchak 10:72
- Shulchan Aruch (Yoreh Deah 141:7)
- The Sefer Chinuch 39 explains that we are all created with Tzelem Elokim - not that we have Hashem's body literally, but that our intellect stems from him. Rabbeinu Bechayeh (Shemot 19:20) quotes the Rambam in Moreh Nevuchim 1:1 who says similarly, and the Ritva (Rosh Hashanah 24a) explains that Oti is a refence to the vision of Hashem that Moshe Rabbeinu saw in his Nevuah. The Shach (Yoreh Deah 141:21) notes this, as well. Some (see Rabbeinu Yehonatan and Nimukei Yosef cited in the footnotes to Sefer HaChinuch ibid) write that Oti is a reference to Moshe Rabbeinu.
- Shulchan Aruch and Rama (Yoreh Deah 141:7). See Mabit (vol. 2 Yoreh Deah 35) and Shach (Yoreh deah 141:32) who read Tosafot as disagreeing with this principle.
- Rosh (Avodah Zarah 3:5), Shulchan Aruch (Yoreh Deah 141:7)
- Beit David (Yoreh Deah 74), Chatam Sofer (Yoreh Deah 6:6), Yechave Da'at 3:64, Yabia Omer (vol. 10 Yoreh Deah 58:6)
- Kisseh Eliyahu (Yoreh Deah 141:7), Rav Pe'alim (vol. 4 Yoreh Deah 10). Rav Ovadia (Yabia Omer vol. 10 Yoreh Deah 58:6) argues that their read of Shulchan Aruch is not correct and the Halacha follows the Beit David.
- Ritva (Avodah Zarah 42b), Samag (Lavin 22) quoted by Maharshal, Perishah (Yoreh Deah 141:37), Taz (Yoreh Deah 141:15). Shach (Yoreh Deah 141:32) says that one is stringent is praiseworthy. The Maharit YD 35 argues that we should follow the Samag and brings a proof from Tosfot Yoma 54b.
- Pitchei Teshuvah (Yoreh Deah 141:10) quotes She'elat Yaavetz 170 is who is very strict based on his readings of the aforementioned Rosh, Avnei Yashfeh 1:151
- Ben Ish Chai (Shanah II, Masei 10), Halichot Olam vol. 7 pg 285, Masei 4-5, Yalkut Yosef (Kitzur Shulchan Aruch Yoreh Deah 141:2, 7)
- Yabia Omer (vol. 3 Yoreh Deah 8, vol. 10 Yoreh Deah 58:6 page 372), Yechaveh Da'at 3:64, Halichot Olam (vol. 7 pg 281, Masei 3), Mekor Chaim 265:7, Binyan Av 1:37 based on Nachal Eshkol 3:50, Maharit YD 35, Pri Hasadeh 3:38, and Netsiv (Emek Shaylah 57:3).
- Shiurei Beracha (Yoreh Deah 141:2), Nehar Mitzrayim (Hilchot Avodah Zarah 2), Teshuvot veHanhagot 1:804, Shevet Halevi 7:134:1, Avnei Derech 6:112
- Rav Ovadia (Yabia Omer (vol. 3 Yoreh Deah 8) originally prohibited manufacturing them, but then seems to have retracted and permitted manufacture as well (Halichot Olam vol. 7 pg 281, Masei 3). See also , Binyan Av 1:37.
- Avnei Derech 6:113
- The Ramban Avoda Zarra 43b s.v. dakshinan holds that it is forbidden to draw a two dimensional image of a person. However, the Rambam Avoda Zara 3:11 holds that it is only forbidden if it is three dimensional. That is also the opinion of the Rosh Avoda Zara 3:5. Shulchan Aruch 141:5 codifies the opinion of the Rambam.
- See Darkei Teshuvah (Yoreh Deah 141:35) who writes that both Rav Yaakov Emden and Rav Yonatan Eibeshitz were machmir not to allow people to draw their images even though people would benefit from seeing their face, photographs of even gedolim pictures are terrible, and that one should stay away. This is especially prohibited given the view of the Ramban and Ritva that even flat images are prohibited. The Mahari Azsod famously did not allow anyone to take his picture. This feeling is echoed by Rav Ovadia Hedaya (Yaskil Avdi (vol. 2 Kuntress Acharon, Yoreh Deah 11) who instructed a community in Poland whose leader wanted to have all of the kollel member's pictures taken to ensure only those who are identifiable and attending receive their stipends. He agreed that those who do not wish to have their picture taken should not be forced to forgo their stringent custom. The Ben Ish Chai (Shanah II, Masei 9 and Rav Berachot (Maarechet Tzadi, page 130b)) writes similarly that it is permitted according to the letter of the law, but for Kabbalistic reasons one should not be meikel.
- Nehar Mitzrayim (Hilchot Avodah Zarah 3). Yabia Omer (vol. 4 Yoreh Deah 22:3, vol. 11 Orach Chaim 53), Yechave Da'at 3:63, Halichot Olam (vol. 7 pg 282, Masei 4), Yalkut Yosef (Kitzur Shulchan Aruch, Yoreh Deah 141:6), Teshuvot veHanhagot 3:263. Rav Ovadia argues that the Ritva was discussing dyed/painted images, because they protrude slightly, but even the Ritva would permit photos, as they are completely flat. He also testifies that the Rabbanim in Yeshivat Porat Yosef were lenient, except apparently Rav Ovadia Hedaya who was missing from a certain group picture. See Shevet HaLevi 7:134:5 who is unsure if a photo is the same as adam that's not protruding, because it happens on its own and Minchat Yitzchak 10:72 who thinks it's obviously prohibited to photograph the sun.
- Teshuvot veHanhagot 3:263, Avnei Yashfeh 1:151 explaining a ruling of Rav Elyashiv
- Chatam Sofer (Yoreh Deah 6:4) see also ibid 6:6. See Beit David Yoreh Deah 75.
- Az Nidberu 8:59 relying on the Chochmat Adam that there is no chashad of Adam nowadays
- Halichot Olam (vol. 7 page 285, Masei 4-5), Yalkut Yosef (Yoreh Deah 141:2, 7). Nevertheless, since we're discussing matters of Issurei Deoraita, the Ben Ish Chai (Shanah II, Masei 10) recommends being Machmir.
- Kol Mevaser 1:14 writes that creating a protruding image of a human is a biblical prohibition of Lo Tasun Itti which is a detail of Avoda Zara. Therefore, he writes that one should give up one's life to avoid violating that prohibition. He cites the Minchat Chinuch 39. He also cites a story in Josephus (Antiques of the Jew v. 18 ch. 3 n. 1) about a town that opposed the Cesar's decree to put up flags with his image on them and were killed because of that.
- Rambam (Sefer HaMitzvot, Lo Taaseh 4; Mishneh Torah, Hilchot Avodah Zarah 3:11), Tosafot Yoma 54a, Shulchan Aruch (Yoreh Deah 141:6)
- Mordechai Avodah Zarah 840 quotes a Machloket Rabbeinu Ephraim and Rabbeinu Elyakim who seemingly disagree on whether or not one may install images of animals in synagogues. Rabbeinu Ephraim argues that animals are not included in Lo Taasun Itti, so they may be constructed, and they're not worshipped, so there's no chashad issue. Rabbeinu Elyakim rereads the sugya to prohibit owning images of animals, as well, so he had them remove the images of lions from the shul in Cologne. The Mordechai adds how the Rambam is lenient, and Maharam (Tosafot Yoma 54a) says how they may be distracting, but they're not assur. Plus, there's no chashad when they're flat, and even a Jew can make them, as we see from many instances in Shas. See Ohr Zarua (Avodah Zarah 203-204) and Hagahot Asheri ad loc, as well. The Beit Yosef (Yoreh Deah 141:6) paskens like R' Ephraim and resolves many of the objections R' Elyakim raises, and that is what he seems to pasken in Shulchan Aruch. However, in Avkat Rochel Siman 63, he adamantly argues that the Halacha follows R' Elyakim completely and arguing based on Teshuvot of the Rambam and the Rosh that anything distracting is forbidden to introduce into a shul setting, contradicting himself in Beit Yosef. Even more puzzling is that in Avkat Rochel Siman 66, he writes to be lenient like R' Ephraim! Many Acharonim attempt to resolve the blatant double contradiction, with a variety of resolutions and suggestions. At the end of the day, they all urge one to keep the images out of shul, especially if they protrude. Sephardic authorities report how they did not have this issue as much in their home countries. See Yaskil Avdi (vol. 1 Yoreh Deah 5, vol. 2 Yoreh Deah 9, and vol. 7 Siman 17), Tzitz Eliezer 3:24, Mishpetei Uziel 9:21-22, Nehar Mitzrayim (Hilchot Avodah zarah 1-6), Mikveh HaMayim (vol. 3 Yoreh Deah Siman 19), Yechaveh Daat 3:62, Yalkut Yosef (Yoreh Deah 141:9, 11; Orach Chaim 90:45), Emek Yehoshua (vol. 1 Yoreh Deah 20-21, vol. 2 Yoreh 19, vol. 6 Orach Chaim 30), Magen Avot (Lebhar, Yoreh Deah 141), Heichal Yitzchak (Orach Chaim 11), Iggerot Moshe YD 2:55, Rav Joseph B. Soloveitchik in Community, Covenant, and Commitment page 3, and Tefillatam Shel Yehudim, in Maayanot 8 pp 9-11 (reprinted in Mipninei HaRav page 34)
- Shemot 22:19, Avodah Zarah 43a, Rosh Hashana 24a, Shulchan Aruch (Yoreh Deah 141:8). Rav Moshe Feinstein (Iggerot Moshe Yoreh Deah 3:33) notes how the measurements of all versions of the Mishkan and Beit HaMikdash are included. Halichot Olam vol. 7 pg 288
- Rashba as quoted by the Ritva (Rosh HaShanah 24b and Avodah Zarah 43b) and Ran (Avodah Zarah 43b).
- Pitchei Teshuvah (Yoreh Deah 141:12)
- Minchat Chinuch 39:1
- Rambam Sefer HaMitzvot (Aseh 20), Shevet HaLevi 3:106
- Hasagot leSefer HaMitzvot Shoresh 12, Aseh 33. See Beis Yitzchok 29 pg. 454.
- Ritva Avodah Zarah 43 and Rosh Hashanah 24a
- Iggerot Moshe (Yoreh Deah 3:33), Halichot Olam vol. 7 pg 288
- Ritva Avodah Zarah 43 and Rosh Hashanah 24a
- Avodah Zarah 43a, Rosh HaShanah 24a, Shulchan Aruch (Yoreh Deah 141:8)
- Shach (Yoreh Deah 141:35
- Bechor Shor quoted in Pitchei Teshuvah (Yoreh Deah 141:14)
- Shiurei Beracha (Yoreh Deah 141:8)
- Mishpetei Uziel 2:18, Shevet HaLevi 10:129
- Rav Ben Tzion Meir Chai Uziel (Misheptei Uziel 2:18) and Rav Ovadia Yosef (Yabia Omer vol. 2 Orach Chaim 12, Yechaveh Daat 3:61 and 7:142, Halichot Olam vol. 7 pg 288) were lenient because it's significantly different from the Menorah in the Mikdash, plus it's made by other people, even though the Shoel Meshiv thinks that a shinui in nerot isn't me'akev to be posel. Also, when used as a decoration in shul, the good intentions of wanting to adorn the miniature House of Hashem and the lack of intention to copy the Mikdash are additional reasons to be lenient. Yaskil Avdi (vol. 7 Yoreh Deah 16) quotes Rav Herzog who thought that the lack of beit kibbul is enough to be mattir, but he recommends one be strict since it's a Torah level prohibition. Yesodei Yeshurun R' Gedalia Felder vol. 1 page 47 (Maarechet Beit HaKnesset #31) quotes the Machloket. Rav Schachter (oral communication) recommends staying away. See also Rabbi Eli Mansour's Daily Halacha on iTorah
- Rosh Hashana 24a, Avoda Zara 43a, Shulchan Aruch Y.D. 141:8
- Mishna Middot 4:7, Rambam Bet Habechira 4:3. See there for the thicknesses of the walls.
- Melachim 1:6:2, Bava Batra 3a
- Pitchei Teshuva YD 141:13 citing Bet Efraim OC 10, Mikdash Dovid Kodshim 1:3
- Mishna Middot 4:7, Rambam Bet Habechira 4:4. See there for the thicknesses of the walls.
- Mishna Middot 5:1, Yoma 16b, Rambam Bet Habechira 5:4
- Rashi Avoda Zara 43a, Shach 141:33
- Darkei Teshuva 141:54 citing the Torat Moshe
- Shach 141:34 based on Tosfot
- Mikdash Dovid Kodshim 1:3
- Pitchei Teshuva YD 141:12 citing the Tiferet Lmoshe is lenient, while the Darkei Teshuva 141:52 is strict. Darkei Teshuva quotes the Maharam Rotenberg cited by Bet Yosef s.v. vhashta, Pri Haadama v. 3 a"z ch. 3, Gra 141:21, and Shiurei Bracha 141:8 are strict. He does quote the Dvar Moshe 1:122 and Mekor Mayim Chaim who are lenient.