Torah Animals

Home Forums Tefilla / Davening Torah Animals

Viewing 13 posts - 1 through 13 (of 13 total)
  • Author
  • #1680488

    What is the origin of having depictions of animals eagles/lions on Aron Kodesh covering, Sefer Torah cover, or actually minted on top of the silver covers of the Etz Chaim covering/crown? How did this come about and how is it allowed? Also wasnt there a depiction of the Keruvim painted on the wall inside the Kodesh Kedashim? Arent these things a distraction since we are so strict about images and here we see it inside the Holiest place ever?


    and for what reason do you think it is assur?


    iacisrmma-“and for what reason do you think it is assur?”

    -You mean all of the above? For one thing arent we not allowed to have images especially silver idol like of animals or anything? I mean many idol worshipping “religions” have false gods depicted as animals or even are animals. Secondly cant these things be a distraction when they are painted on a wall or embroidered on to a covering when you cant miss them? Its just odd since we know not to even hang up pictures of people/animals in a shul for these reasons.


    The Bais Yossef in responsa Avkat Rochel (Chapter 63) writes lengthily about this matter and writes that one should not make forms or images of lions and the like on the curtain of the Aron Kodesh or on the Aron Kodesh itself.

    Ohr Zarua (Masechet Avodah Zara, Chapter 203) writes that there was an incident in Cologne where images of lions were drawn on the windows of the synagogue and Rabbeinu Elyakim ruled that they must be removed based on the verse, “You shall not make for yourself a statue or any image.” Furthermore, when the congregation prays and bows while facing these images, it seems as if they are bowing to the images and this is forbidden. The Ohr Zarua adds: “I remember that when I was younger, they would draw forms of birds and other animals in the synagogue and I ruled that this is forbidden, for this would cause people to pay attention to the beauty of the images as opposed to concentrating on their prayer.” He brings sources to support his view.

    Chida (in his Sefer Shiyurei Beracha, Yoreh De’ah, Chapter 141) quotes a certain Gaon who writes that it is obvious that one may not allow such images of lions in synagogues or Batei Midrash (Houses of Study) where people pray on a regular basis. He adds that anyone who rules leniently on this matter will have to give reckoning before Hashem for this.

    Yechave Da’at, (Volume 3, Chapter 62) that it is forbidden to hang a curtain embroidered with images of lions on the Aron Kodesh. He adds that rabbis in Israel and all over the world for that matter must raise public awareness about this issue, convince the caretakers of synagogues to remove such curtains and other such forms around the synagogue, and to no longer produce such curtains with these images.

    A slightly lenient opinion from Ben Ish Chai in Parashat Yitro, distinguishes in this regard between pictures drawn on the wall itself, and images that protrude from the wall. In the case of illustrations drawn on the wall, the Ben Ish Hai writes, one may pray facing the wall provided that he closes the eyes to demonstrate that he does not intend to worship the pictures. When it comes, however, to images that protrude from the wall, the Ben Ish Hai forbids praying facing toward the wall, even if one closes his eyes.

    Background discussion:

    Mador Shechina: Angels; lions; ox; eagle, Man (Michaber 141/4; Abayey in Avodas Kochavim 43b; Omitted in Rambam Hilchos Avodas Kochavim 3/11, see Kesef Mishneh there):

    It is forbidden to form the creations that are found on the chambers of the Shechina[The reason: As the verse states “Lo Sasun Iti” which refers to those creatures that live with Me [Hashem]. [Shach 141/20; Rashi ibid] [the Divine chariot] such as:

    a) The four faces [on the chariot, which are the lion/ox/eagle/man[Shach 141/20 in second explanation; Rashi ibid] or lion/baby/eagle/adult[Shach 141/20

    Face of an ox versus baby: The Gemara Chagiga 12b states that Yichezkal came along and switched the face of an ox for the face of a Keruv, which would imply that the face of an ox is no longer part of the chariot.
    [Shach 141/20 in his first explanation]

    However, in truth, one can say that the face of the ox still remains part of the prohibition, being that it was on the chariot at the time that verse of prohibition was stated. [Shach 141/10 in his second explanation] At the same time however it is also forbidden to form the face of a baby, together with the other three faces of the adult/lion/eagle together. [Shach ibid]] all in one picture [as the face of a single animal[Shach 141/20, 21, 30; Taz 141/7; Rashi ibid explains “for a single animal”, meaning that a single animal may not contain these four faces.]. [It is however permitted to form these faces individually, with exception to the human, which may not be made even individually, as will be explained.[Taz 141/7; Shach 141/21, 30; Semak 160; Ran] It is likewise permitted to form two or three of these faces, with exception to the human face in which some Poskim are stringent, as will be explained. The above prohibition only applies to making a sculpture of the entire body together with the face, however to just make a head with the four faces is permitted.[Taz ibid; See Michaber 141/7
    The reason: As in the chambers of the Shechina the four faces were complete with bodies. This is also proven from the fact the Ran and Semak ibid question why the Talmud implies that only four faces together are forbidden while in truth even man alone is forbidden, and they do not answer that here the prohibition refers to just the face, which is permitted by man. This proves that the entire case of the Talmud referred to making a body with the four faces and hence their question applied. [Taz ibid]

    Other opinions: Some Poskim rule the faces of the chariot did not have complete bodies and hence the prohibition applies even to simply making a headwhich contains the four faces. [Maharit Y.D. 2/35 in implication of question of Ran ibid who did not answer that a mere head of a human is allowed; brought in Gilyon Maharsha 141/7]

    If one found the sculpture of a human and then added to it the other three faces he transgresses the above prohibition.[Taz 141/7; Shach 141/21; Semak 160; Ran; Tosafus Avoda Zara 43a and Rosh Hashana 24]]
    b) Angels such as Serafim, Ofanim, [Chayos Hakodesh[Avoda Zara 43b; VeTzaruch Iyun why Chayos Hakodesh was not mentioned by Michaber ibid]] and Malachei Hashareis.[Michaber and Gemara ibid] [This refers to a human like figure with wings.[Taz ibid]


    As follow up, one may think that it is “tottally” ossur to daven in a shul with lions or keruvim etc., for balance, I MUST add:

    Kenesses Yichezkel (cited in Pischei Teshuva Y.D. 141:6) explains that the common practice is to be lenient and that since the images are always in the Shul and the congregants are used to them there is no concern that they will ruin their concentration. A similar permissive view was expressed by Rav Ben Tzion Abba Shaul zt”l. (Ohr Letzion vol. 2 page 64)

    In summary: Lchatchila if one can influence the shul to use a porochet without lions – that is certainly the ideal, but if the porochet already has lions, or lions sculptures are on the Aron Hakodesh, yesh al mi lismoch to daven in such a shul.

    anonymous Jew

    This is sort of funny in that in many of the shuls found in archeological digs have beautiful frescoes on the walls and images portrayed in the floor tiles. One of the most recently discovered dates to the 5th or 6th century but most are from the end of the second Bais Hamikdosh. Apparently they weren’t always assur.


    This is something Ive wondered about
    growing up all shuls had either lion on the paroches, motifs with the shevatim and their animals (donkey for yissoschar, deer for naftali, wolf for binyamin etc). OVer the past 10-15 years I have noticed these dissapearing as people get “frummer”
    I’m curious when exactly this shift away from animals started


    Annon Jew – most frum Yidden today would not eat from Moshe Rabbeinu’s shchita! I don’t say this merely for the shock factor but the reality is that Chazal over the generations have added and modified many halachos that became not just “chumoros” but part of mainstream halacha, thereby disqualifying the type of “chalev” (knife) that Moshe Rabbenu would have used.

    The same applies for matzas – are matzos are very thin compared to matzos in times of Bais Mikdosh that were exceedingly thick. No one today (in the Ashkenazi world) would use such matzos.

    I doubt Moshe Rabbeinu wore two pairs of teffilin – Rashi and R’ Tam!

    My point is, we cannot simply say that if something was done before the times of Shulchan Oruch, it must be ok. Indeed, in times of Shas, the talmud tells us that in the city of Rav they followed the halacha as cited by Rav, while in the city of Shmuel they followed Shmuel’s view. That does not allow us to pick and choose how we should conduct ourselves!


    Rebitzen-” My point is, we cannot simply say that if something was done before the times of Shulchan Oruch, it must be ok.”

    -really? Wow


    It’s funny how we rely on the lowest of yeridas hadoros meaning present times and feel somehow we have perfected things more than when they actually were perfect. The fact that it seems we are more stringent on things is mostly because of issues we ran into regarding technology interfering with Shabbos and etc..and constantly have to creatively maneuver around these issues and make it work. So in a way maybe it requires more effort but are we better than the earlier generations? Knives or the like I mean you can’t really compare present day tech with those days. Besides we only “perfected” things based on original methods and capitalized on them. It’s interesting though if everything was good enough back then why did we have to “fix” things? We also caused a lot of problems for ourselves. What happened to אל תהי צדיק יותר מדי? Exactly for that reason. When there’s so much siyag if you fail on the siyag you feel you actually transgressed the original commandment and it just goes downhill from there. 400 conflicting opinions for each tzivuy rather than 1 halacha lemoshe misinai. And we have it better?


    Wasn’t there once a Chabad=affiliated museum in Brooklyn displaying replicas and photos of all the animals mentioned in the Torah where many yeshivos would schedule field trips for their Talmidim??


    Who is greater in Torah than Moshe Rabeinu? He was taught Torah directly from the Nossen HaTorah! Yet when he heard the teachings of Rabbi Akivah, he could not follow and “cholsha da’ato” (till he heard R’ Akiva say that ultimately it was halacho l’;Moshe m’sinai).

    In halacha too, the halacha is a “living tree”, – lo b’shamayim hee, it was given to CHazal to use the 13 middos that the Torah is darshened with, plus the future chidishei Torah and the rulings of gedolei ha’poskim to which we are bound.

    The Rambam followed his halochos, as did the Rosh and Rif, but the Tur decided how we should behave and what our halacha is, yet the Bais Yossef compliled the shulchan oruch, and the Ramo glosses for Ashkenazim, but that did not end to be the final halacha. The Magen Avrohom and Taz, the pri Megodim and others might overrule earlier halacha.

    Then the gedolei achronim of poskim: The Rav Shulchan Oruch, the Oruch Hashulchan, the Mishne Brura …and the hundreds of poskim I missed.

    Did they “perfect” or just ADD CHUMROS???

    no!!! They are the R’Akiva that Moshe could not follow, they are the halacha of our day – different then the Rambam, Rosh or Rif.

    It isn’t technology, it isn’t perfecting or chumros – it is the evolution of halacha, a living tree.



Viewing 13 posts - 1 through 13 (of 13 total)
  • You must be logged in to reply to this topic.