Question:

Dear Rabbi,

Of course I realize that many members of the Catholic church have not always treated Jews well. Also I’m aware that many rabbis consider Christianity to be avoda zara.

Furthermore, I am aware that there are three categories of people: Jews, Noahides, and Pagans. I am not trying to encourage paganism in any manner whatsoever.

Be that as it may, I am thinking of all opening a small office in Mexico. I have been considering different ideas about how to recruit and retain good employees.

To that end, I have been thinking it might be practical for me to contact a priest at a local church in Mexico.

Perhaps this priest might be able to recommend potential employees to me. For example, if I were to have a dispute with one of my employees I might send him to speak with his Catholic priest. Let’s say the Catholic priest were to side with me against my employee. Then, if that employee were to disagree with the Catholic priest, ultimately his priest able to persuade him that he is essentially defying the Pope. Papal infallibilitymight seem absurd to Jews, but many Catholics seem to take that doctrine very seriously. In addition, I was thinking that as a means of helping to ensure convivial relations with my as yet unhired future employees, it might be beneficial if they regularly attend church and confession.

What are my practical alternatives for hiring employees in Mexico? If I were to randomly hire people “off the street” they would probably be pagans. Therefore although Catholicism might be a form of paganism, wouldn’t it be better for me to hire Mexican Catholics rather than Mexicans who do not observe any religion whatsoever (or are Mexican Protestants)?

Kol Tov,

Answer:

The Shulachan Aruch and Rema both rule that Christianity is considered avoza zara, although there may be certain leniencies regarding certain halachos of stam yanom, nevertheless for our topic they are like pagans.  While there is no direct prohibition for you to contact the local priest, as such an instance is not discussed in the Shulchan Aruch, however after consulting a number of Rabbis,  regarding your question, they all agreed that it is strongly discouraged and that you shouldn’t  do it. The reason is because we see from numerous halachos in Hilchos Avoda Zara, that we are to distance ourselves from even walking near a church, looking to enjoy the beauty of a church, not to even mention the name of an avoda zara,  and basically to keep our distance from the church as much as we can. What this situation will cause is the exact opposite of what the halacha wants, as this will cause you to get closer to the church and to its priests, which can chas v’shalom have a negative effect on a person’s religious beliefs. Let’s just take a small example, what if the priest tells you, that he will be happy to talk to you, and help you out, and you should meet him after mass in the church. You may absolutely not walk in there, and it will be very awkward and uncomfortable for you to tell him this. Or if he you to make a donation to the church for his services, that would also be problematic as we are not allowed to support the church.

Another issue is, that after a while you might become friendly with him, and he might try to convince you of at least impress upon you, that their religion is positive etc. Aside from this, the reason you want to relationship with the priest is because you want benefit from the power of their church, and the workers avoda zara beliefs, to benefit your business. This would be might in fact be halachically forbidden.

Thirdly, the halacha states ( Yora Deah 142-1) that we are not allowed to benifit from an avoda zara, for example, if an avoda zara burned, we are not allowed to use the ashes. By wantig to wire workers in a way that they would work more honestly because they will not want to be in violation of the rules of the church, although not intentionally, you are putting yourself into a situation of benifiting from the ideology of the avoda zara worship of the gentile.

Therefore although I understand that there may be a benefit from getting your workers from the church, for the above reasons it is strongly discouraged.

It is my hope and prayer that you should be able to find honest, high quality workers from other sources, and in the merit of your not turning to the church, you should be blessed with much success in you new business.

Best Wishes

Sources:

Rambam  Hlchos Ma’achalos Asuros 11-7, Avoda Zara9-4, Commentary on MIshanyos Avoda Zara 1-3 Regarding Christains and avoda zara. Also See Rema Orach Chaim 156 and Yora Deah 141-1, Shulchan Aruch Yore Deah 150-3.

 

 

Tags: church idolatry priest

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3 Responses to “Working with a Catholic priest”

  1. I believe that it is recognized that the Rema (see Darkhei Moshe, Yoreh Deah 151, and Rema, Yoreh Deah, 151:1) followed in this by Shach (Yoreh Deah 151, note 7) that Christianity is not considered avoda zara for non Jews. There are also many halachic authorities who hold this opinion (The Meiri, Baalei Tosasos, R Y Emden, and others). For Jews, yes, but are there not ample opinions – the Rema being perhaps the most authoritative,- that it is not avoda zara for non Jews (The Darchei Moshe qualifies his view that this was stated beyond the issue of swearing in regards to shituf – Rema O.C. 156:1, but the permissibibility as it pertains to them).

    • True, but that is only regarding causing the non Jew to worship. However as far as we are concerned we may not benefit from it, and we must distance ourelves from it just like any other avoda zara.

  2. Thank you for clarifying.. My comment was in regard to your answer above – “The Shulachan Aruch and Rema both rule that Christianity is considered avoza zara..” From the sources which I quteed above (and from numerous shiurim/sefarim on this topic), I thought it was clear that the Rema rules that Chritianity is not avoda zara (for non Jews).

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