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Frequently Asked Questions and Answers

URL: www.scjfaq.org/faq/11-04-03.html
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Question 11.4.3:
Practices Towards Others: Is it permitted for a Jew to sell Christian objects?

Answer:

Most rishonim (medieval halachic authorities) considered Christianity to be avodah zarah. A notable exception were the Tosafists. They felt that the trinity is shutfus (assigning partners to G-d). That the Father is the Creater, and identiable with the Jewish G-d, and the other persons of the trinity are minor deities that mediate. The practical distinction is that while Jews are prohibited from believing in shutfus, it is permitted to non-Jews under the covenant of Noah.

The Tosafists are a major force in Ashkenazic ruling. On their ruling, many Orthodox Jews who work in jewelery sell crosses and crucafixes. A necessary factor is the assumption that the overwhelming majority of customers will be people who aren't Jewish (in the sense of peoplehood, not just religion). Others do not rule like the Tosafists.

Another issue is whether the Tosafists' statement about the Catholicism of their day applies to any / some / most of the plurality of Christianities that exist today. For a pragmatic ruling, it's something you'd need to discuss with a rabbi.


The FAQ is a collection of documents that is an attempt to answer questions that are continually asked on the soc.culture.jewish family of newsgroups. It was written by cooperating laypeople from the various Judaic movements. You should not make any assumption as to accuracy and/or authoritativeness of the answers provided herein. In all cases, it is always best to consult a competent authority--your local rabbi is a good place to start.

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