Please can you advise on the following.

We have a company 100% owned by Jews that produces flags and banners.
Numerous country flags have images of the sun, stars and moon on them as specified by the relevant country.
The flags are printed by non Jews who are instructed to print by non-Jewish managers.

Is it prohibited for them to print these flags?
How should we proceed?

Answer:

It is prohibited to form the image of the sun or the moon and stars. There is a dispute among poskim concerning flat images, though most authorities are stringent in this matter. In addition, there is a question concerning producing such images by means of gerama, meaning by the indirect method of pressing a button on a computer, where there is some time delay between the instruction and the implementation.

Although these factors would might not suffice to be lenient with regard to oneself (there is a question of what constitutes gerama), one might be able to rely on them concerning printing by means of a non-Jew.

In the presented question, however, even those giving the instructions are non-Jews, and only the owners of the company are Jews. The basic role of directors is to set policy and to supervize the company management, so that there is no direct instruction concerning the actual printing of flags.

If the prohibition of forming images would extend to non-Jews, an issue of lifnei iver, and an issue of being partner to a forbidden activity, could arise. However, most opinions maintain that the prohibition does not extend to non-Jews.

This being the case, there would not be a prohibition of owning (or serving as a director of) the company.

Sources: See Avodah Zarah 43a-b; Rambam, Idolatry 3:11; Shulchan Aruch, Yoreh Deah 141:4; Taz 141:13 (permitting flat images); Shach 141:25 (prohibiting flat images); Chochmas Adom 85:5, Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 168:1, Iggros Moshe, vol. 5, no. 9; Rabbi Pesach Eliyahu Falk, Am Ha-Torah, mahadurah 3, vol. 5, pp. 49-70; concerning gerama, see Lehoros Noson (3:50), who permits the creation of an image by means of gerama. The question of what precisely constitutes gerama is complex: see Rabbi Yitzchak Halperin, Maaseh U-Gerama Behalachah.

Concerning non-Jews, see Tosafos (Avodah Zarah 43b), who state that the prohibition does not apply. However, Rambam (Melachim 9:2) states that it does apply, and Minchas Chinuch (39) wonders why Shulchan Aruch does not mention the issue. Yet, Shach (141:23) likewise implies that there is no prohibition for non-Jews (mentioning only the issue of amira le’akum), as does Iggros Moshe (Yoreh Deah 2:54) and Rabbi Akiva Eiger (Tosafos Rabbi Akiva Eiger, Rosh Hashanah 2:11).

Share The Knowledge

Not what you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged Uncategorized or ask your own question.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *