Thinking Through Avodah Zarah
This chapter assesses Hinduism from a Jewish perspective. It explores the nature of Hinduism, exposing its complexity, and moving beyond the simplistic understanding to a more accurate picture of Hindu theology and reality. Jews in Indian societies have lived with an attitude of acceptance towards their Hindu neighbours. The chapter then offers an honest reappraisal of avodah zarah applied to contemporary Hinduism, finding support for new theological understanding of Hinduism in the rabbinic wisdom of the medieval sage Menahem Me'iri and the contemporary thinker Adin Steinsaltz. The religious conversation with Hindus is important because of the spiritual opportunities it presents. As such, the chapter considers the Hindu quest for God and the model of Hindu saints as significant topics for a Jewish–Hindu conversation. Nuancing one's understanding of avodah zarah and of Hinduism must continue, and the dialogue on spirituality and the benefits of spiritual exchange must advance.
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