This book grows out of a classical Jewish perspective and seeks not only to address a question that arises out of that perspective but also to revise that very perspective. The perspective is that of viewing other religions through the lens of idolatry, foreign worship, Avoda Zara. It is a deep-seated perspective that is thousands of years old, continuing biblical and rabbinic attitudes down to the present day. The question that arises out of this perspective concerns a particular religion, Hinduism, and its status as Avoda Zara. In the crudest way: Is Hinduism Avoda Zara? Rather than offer a “yes” or “no” answer, this book seeks to revisit the very perspective of how other religions are viewed, leading us to rethink the very category of Avoda Zara, even as it tries to work through the very complex reality of Hindu religious reality, in light of that category. Whether at the end of the day a “yes,” “no,” a question mark, or some combination of these elements of the terse formulation of the question emerge as the book’s conclusion may itself depend on the reader and what she takes away from what is more an exercise in thought than a guide to action.1
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- and the various essays collected in From India Till Here, ed. Elhanan Nir, Rubin Mass, Jerusalem, 2006 [Hebrew].Google Scholar