More Discussions for this daf
1. Dolls 2. The three lessons

hg schild asked:

is this the daf that learns about the shaila about whether dolls are avodah zarah? What is the main summary of this?

hg schild, usa

The Kollel replies:

Yes it is.

The main summary is this: there are two potential problems with dolls - making them and having them in your possession.

The Gemara in Avodah Zarah (43b) tells us that there is a prohibition to make images of humans. This is derived from a Pasuk in Parshas Yisro (Shemos 20: ). The reason for the prohibition, says the Sefer haChinuch (Mitzvah 39), is to distance us from Avodah Zarah, but, since it is a Gezeirus ha'Kasuv, it doesn't matter whether the image is being made for idol worship or your child's doll collection - in either case it is a proper Torah prohibition to make the image.

There are two caveats to this prohibition: the image must be three dimensional (and not flat, like a photograph) and the image must be a complete human body (not a bust, for instance) (See Shulchan Aruch YD 141:4 and 141:7). Otherwise, there is no prohibition. Unfortunately, most dolls are three dimensional and a complete body. There is a Teshuvah of the Maharit (YD 35) that permits making dolls, because, he claims, the prohibition is only when a permanent image is being made, but not something temporary and used for play. The modern-day Poskim (Yabia Omer 3 YD 8, Teshuvos v'Hanhagos 1:804) reject this opinion. Therefore it is problematic to be a Jewish doll maker. (Actually, according to the Rambam, it is even problematic to be a non-Jewish doll maker (see Minchas Chinuch, Mitzva 39, note 12)).

The same Gemara that says that it is forbidden to make human images also says that it is forbidden to have them in your possession. The reason given is that the owner might be suspected of either making the image or even worshipping it. The Poskim (Chachmas Adam 85:6) say that in our day and age, when idol worship is very uncommon, there won't be such a suspicion and therefore there is no longer a prohibition of possessing human images. Therefore owning a doll is not a problem.

Kol Tuv,

Yonasan Sigler

This is not a Psak Halachah