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References in periodicals archive ?
The subject of Tractate Avoda Zara, which Daf Yomi readers have been studying for the last few weeks, is idol worship.
Alon Goshen-Gottstein has given us a path-breaking study, grounded in profound erudition and spiritual discernment, which explores two interconnected themes: the status of Hinduism as Avoda Zara ("foreign worship" or "idolatry"), and the rabbinic category of Avoda Zara itself, by examining its suitability to some of the multiple forms of religious Hinduisms.
Goshen-Gottstein's study highlights the points that, on the one hand, medieval rabbinic conceptualizations of Avoda Zara which were developed in response to Christianity cannot be mechanically applied in halachic rulings to Hindu universes, and, on the other hand, the ongoing encounters with Hinduism can surprisingly illuminate certain dimensions of Jewish thought.
Goshen-Gottstein argues, midway through the book, that even if one concludes that Hinduism is Avoda Zara, the affirmation that Hindus and Jews worship the same God can bring about a reorientation of some Jewish perceptions of Hindu deities, images, and ritual practices as strange, foreign, and offensive.
For instance, in Avoda Zara 25b, the Gemara says that, if a Jew encounters a gentile on the road, he should make sure to walk on the gentile's left side.