Ask the Rabbi - Customs and Practices

Restrictions on Art for a Noahide

Q: What limitations are there for a Noahide to engage in art?

Q: What limitations are there for a Noahide to engage in art? Do the restrictions of Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 168 apply?

(The following is an extract from Chapter 168 of the Kitzur Shulchan Aruch – a brief summary of the Shulchan Aruch: (1) It is written, “Do not make silver or golden gods with Me” (Exodus 20,19). Our sages have taught that this is a prohibition to create figures that exist in the upper or lower sections of heaven. This means not to make … figures of angels and … the sun and the stars. And this even applies if the images are not engraved … (2) Creating a human form is also prohibited, and this includes making a face … this is forbidden unless it is damaged somewhat …)

A: There are different opinions about the prohibition of art for Jews. The Kitzur Shulchan Aruch takes one of the most stringent positions. Today there are rabbis who take a more lenient stand and prohibit only making articles that are meant to be used directly for idol worship. In Rav Kook’s opinion, the only thing that is forbidden is a full-body sculpture of a human being, because this serves as a reminder of the original prohibition of making idols. A Noahide is forbidden to create articles directly connected to idol worship.

In some cases, the Kitzur Shulchan Aruch includes customs and not only the strict halacha. In specific cases, it is best to consult a rabbi for a ruling.

Rabbi Oury Cherki

Rav Oury Cherki was born in Algeria in 1959 and grew up in France, and he made Aliyah in 1972. He studied at Merkaz Harav Yeshiva, which was founded by Rav Avraham Yitzchak Kook. He performed his military service in the artillery branch of the IDF. He studied with Rav Tzvi Yehuda Kook, Rav Yehuda Leon Ashkenazi (Manitou), Rav Shlomo Binyamin and Achlag. Rav Cherki heads the Israeli department of Machon Meir, and he is the Director of Brit Olam - the Noahide World Center. He teaches in many places throughout Israel. Rav Cherki is the spiritual leader of the "Beth Yehuda" community in Kiryat Moshe (Jerusalem). He has written many books on Jewish thought and philosophy.

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