April 1, 2020, 6:15 pm - 8:00 pm
Avodah Zarah (Hebrew for ‘foreign worship’, i.e. ‘idolatry’) is a tractate of the Talmud mainly containing discussions on laws for Jews living among, and peacefully interacting with Gentiles, especially idolaters. While Judaism is famously non-proselytising and very live-and-let-live, it is also sometimes viscerally opposed to polytheism and worshipping physical objects.
This tractate deals with a fine balance: how do we remain authentic to our tradition while being respectful of others? How do we accept others rights to worship differently, without actively encouraging practices we believe to be inherently wrong? These discussions were pertinent 1500-2000 years ago when the Talmudic sages lived among Zoroastrians and Greco-Roman pagans, and are equally relevant to us today, albeit in a somewhat different way.