Drawing humans and angels

Making a sculpture, drawing or engraving of human and angels:

Mador Shechina: Angels; lions; ox; eagle, Man:[1] It is forbidden to form the creations that are found on the chambers of the Shechina[2] [the Divine chariot] such as:

  1. a) The four faces [on the chariot, which are the lion/ox/eagle/man[3] or lion/baby/eagle/adult[4]] all in one picture [as the face of a single animal[5]]. [It is however permitted to form these faces individually, with exception to the human, which may not be made even individually, as will be explained.[6] It is likewise permitted to form two or three of these faces, with exception to the human face in which some Poskim are stringent, as will be explained. The above prohibition only applies to making a sculpture of the entire body together with the face, however to just make a head with the four faces is permitted.[7] If one found the sculpture of a human and then added to it the other three faces he transgresses the above prohibition.[8]]
  2. b) Angels such as Serafim, Ofanim, [Chayos Hakodesh[9]] and Malachei Hashareis.[10] [This refers to a human like figure with wings.[11]]

Human body:[12] It is forbidden to form a sculpture of the human body even inidividually [without the other faces of the chariot].[13] [Some Poskim[14] rule it is forbidden to make a human sculpture even if one adds to it only one or two of the faces of the chariot [or other faces[15]]. Other Poskim[16] however rule it is permitted to make the human body together with other faces, so long as one does not make all four faces of the chariot. If one makes the human body together with the other three faces of the chariot he possibly transgresses two negative commands.[17]]

The prohibited form-Sculpture and protruding engraving versus drawing and internal engraving of above items:[18] All the above forms [Humans; angels; face of the human/lion/ox/eagle] are only forbidden to be formed in a protruding method, such as a sculpture or a protruding engraving. It is however permitted to form the above items internally [such as an internal engraving, or a drawing on a surface], as is done in embroidery of a garment, or as is drawn on a board using ink.[19] [One may thus draw an angel, human, and four faces of the chariot on a board. Other Poskim[20] however rule that it is forbidden to form any of the above items in any manner, whether protruding as a sculpture or protruding engraving, or whether as an internal engraving.[21] Practically, one is to be stringent in this matter.[22] Some Poskim[23] rule that even according to this stringent opinion, it is permitted to make a drawing of the above items.[24] Other Poskim[25] rule that according to this stringent opinion it is forbidden to make even a drawing. Practically, the custom of all Jewry today is to be lenient regarding drawings.]

Making for beauty and decoration purposes:[26] It is forbidden to make any of the above forbidden forms even for purposes of mere beauty and decoration.

Making for a gentile:[27] It is forbidden to make any of the above forbidden forms even on behalf of a gentile.

Having it made by a gentile:[28] It is forbidden to ask a gentile make any of the above forbidden forms on one’s behalf even if he does not plan to posses the sculpture.[29]

Making for public:[30] It is forbidden for the public to make any sculpture or forbidden form just like a private individual.

Making for learning purposes:[31] The above prohibition only applies when making the sculpture for non-learning purposes. It is however permitted to make any of the above forms for learning purposes; to learn, understand, and teach. It is permitted to make the forms in any method for learning purposes, even in a protruding megthod [such as a sculpture or protruding engraving, and certainly one may draw them, or make an internal engraving for learning purpsoes]. [One may thus make a sculpture of an angel, human, four faces of the chariot, for the sake of education, such as to teach Torah and the like. It is however forbidden to make the sculptures for purposes of practice, such as if one is in a course which teaches the making of sculptures and one is required to make sculptures in order to pass the course.[32]]

Incomplete sculpture of a human:[33] There are Poskim[34] who rule that the entire prohibition against forming a human sculpture is only if the form is whole and complete with all its limbs. However, it is permitted to form or own an incomplete sculpture of a human body, such as only a head or only a body without a head.[35] Practically, so is the custom.[36] [Likewise, it is only forbidden if it contains two eyes and a complete nose and the entire body is sculptured or engraved.[37] Other Poskim[38] however rule that even half of the body, or just the face, is forbidden to be sculptured. Accordingly, those Menorahs that contain sculptures of half a body must have their figure destroyed. Practically, one who is stringent in all this is blessed.[39] However, one is not to protest those who are lenient.[40] ]

 

 

Summary:

It is forbidden to make a complete sculpture or protruding engraving of a human, angel, four faces of the Divine chariot, sun, moon or stars. It is forbidden to make an engraving of any type of the sun, moon, stars or constelations. One should be stringent not to make an internal engraving of even a human, angel, four faces of the Divine chariot. One may not draw a picture/painting of the sun, moon or stars, and there is room to be stringent against drawing even a human, angel, or four faces of the Divine chariot. Nevertheless, the widespread custom is to be lenient regarding the drawing of humans. It is permitted to make a sculpture, engraving or drawing of any other items not listed above, including animals, birds, fish, trees, and the like.

Cases of allowance: In all cases one may draw or make a complete sculpture of a human, angel, four faces of the Divine chariot, sun, moon or stars for educational purposes. One may likewise draw/sculpture for any purpose an incomplete structure of the above forms, although one who is stringent is blessed.

List of forbidden forms:

1.       Human

2.       Angel

3.       Four faces of the Divine chariot

4.       Sun

5.       Moon

6.       Stars

7.       Constelations

Q&A

May one draw a picture of a forbidden form, or take/develop the picture from a camera?

Human/angel: This matter falls under the dispute mentioned in A regarding whether one may make a picture of a human that is not protruding. Practically, while in previous times there were people who were stringent even regarding pictures of Gedolei Yisrael[41], the widespread custom today is to be lenient regarding all pictures of people.[42] It is certainly permitted to be done for education purposes. Seeing the picture of a Tzadik is a great Segulah for many matters.[43]

Sun, moon, stars: It is forbidden to draw the above forms in a complete way, as stated above in B. Accordingly, it would be forbidden to take or develop a picture of the sun, moon or stars unless it is being done for educational purposes. Those however who are lenient in this matter have upon whom to rely.[44]

May one print or copy a picture of one of the above forbidden forms?

This follows the same ruling as the previous Q&A.

 

May a Jew mint coins that have a a human figure on them, such as dime, nickle?

This matter follows the same dispute mentioned above regarding making incomplete protruding engravings of a human body.[45] Practically, one may be lenient although one who is stringent to avoid doing so is blessed.

 

May one make/manufacture dolls, action figures and other human toys?

Some Poskim[46] rule it is permitted to make sculptures which serve as mere toys and the like.[47] Practically, those who do so are not to be protested.[48] Regarding buying and owning the above items-see D in Q&A!

May one make/manufacture Sheital heads?

Some Poskim[49] permit doing so being it is not a complete figure. Other Poskim are stringent as stated above. Practically, one is not to protest against those who are lenient[50] although some are stringent to leave out some part of the face, such as the nose and the like. Regarding buying and owning the above items-see B in Q&A!

May one manufacture a Menorah with engravings of one of the forbidden forms?

No, unless the figure is incomplete. However, some Poskim[51] argue and rule one may not make the forms of a human, and the same would apply to any of the other forbidden forms, even if they are incomplete. Some Poskim[52] are stringent regarding any form, even of an animal or bird.

 

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[1] Michaber 141/4; Abayey in Avodas Kochavim 43b; Omitted in Rambam Hilchos Avodas Kochavim 3/11, see Kesef Mishneh there

[2] The reason: As the verse states “Lo Sasun Iti” which refers to those creatures that live with Me [Hashem]. [Shach 141/20; Rashi ibid]

[3] Shach 141/20 in second explanation; Rashi ibid

[4] Shach 141/20

Face of an ox versus baby: The Gemara Chagiga 12b states that Yichezkal came along and switched the face of an ox for the face of a Keruv, which would imply that the face of an ox is no longer part of the chariot. [Shach 141/20 in his first explanation] However, in truth, one can say that the face of the ox still remains part of the prohibition, being that it was on the chariot at the time that verse of prohibition was stated. [Shach 141/10 in his second explanation] At the same time however it is also forbidden to form the face of a baby, together with the other three faces of the adult/lion/eagle together.  [Shach ibid]

[5] Shach 141/20, 21, 30; Taz 141/7; Rashi ibid explains “for a single animal”, meaning that a single animal may not contain these four faces.

[6] Taz 141/7; Shach 141/21, 30; Semak 160; Ran

[7] Taz ibid; See Michaber 141/7

The reason: As in the chambers of the Shechina the four faces were complete with bodies. This is also proven from the fact the Ran and Semak ibid question why the Talmud implies that only four faces together are forbidden while in truth even man alone is forbidden, and they do not answer that here the prohibition refers to just the face, which is permitted by man. This proves that the entire case of the Talmud referred to making a body with the four faces and hence their question applied. [Taz ibid]

Other opinions: Some Poskim rule the faces of the chariot did not have complete bodies and hence the prohibition applies even to simply making a headwhich contains the four faces. [Maharit Y.D. 2/35 in implication of question of Ran ibid who did not answer that a mere head of a human is allowed; brought in Gilyon Maharsha 141/7]

[8] Taz 141/7; Shach 141/21; Semak 160; Ran; Tosafus Avoda Zara 43a and Rosh Hashana 24

[9] Avoda Zara 43b; VeTzaruch Iyun why Chayos Hakodesh was not mentioned by Michaber ibid

[10] Michaber and Gemara ibid

[11] Taz ibid

[12] Michaber ibid; Avodas Zara 43b

[13] The reason: This is learned from the verse “Lo Sasus Iti” which is read Osi, do not make Me. Now, since Hashem at times appears like a human before the prophets therefore He prohibited making sculptures of the human body. [Shach 141/21; Taz 141/11; Avoda Zara 43b]

[14] Taz ibid

The reason: Although when one makes a human face without all three other faces there is room to argue that it should be permitted, as he has not made a lone human face and has also not made all four faces, nevertheless, it remains forbidden due to the human face which may not be made even individually. So is proven from the fact the Poskim did not write of such an allowance. Nevertheless, in the event that the sculpture was already made with one or two of the other faces it suffices to chip simply the human face and one is not required to chip the other faces. If, however all four faces were made then one would be required to chip all four faces. [Taz ibid]

[15] So is implied from Taz ibid, as the prohibition of human remains even when one adds more faces. Vetzaruch Iyun

[16] Shach 141/21 and Nekudos Hakesef in gloss on Taz ibid that the Rishonim discussed this matter; Ran; Tosafus Rosh Hashana 24; Ramach, brought in Shach ibid and Kesef Mishneh on Rambam Hilchos Avodas Kochavim 3/11

[17] Shach ibid; Tosafus ibid

[18] Michaber ibid and 141/5 regarding signature ring; Rosh; Tosafus; Avoda Zara ibid; Shach 141/25; Levush, brought in Shach ibid

[19] The reason: As the above items are seen in full, in a protruding method, and hence only when it is formed in a protruding method is it considered to be made “like above.” [Shach ibid]

[20] Ramban, brought in Tur 141; Ran in name of Rishonim that so is Ikkur and is implied from the Talmud, brought in Taz 141/12; Erech Lechem of Maharikash, brought in Darkei Teshuvah 141/34; Gr”a 141/21 and 24 in name of Rambam; Taz 141/12 concludes “It’s a wonderment that the Michaber omitted these opinions, and regarding Halacha, certainly one is not to be lenient against the Ramban, Tur and Ran”; Beir Heiytiv 141/19 in name of Taz; Darkei Teshuvah 141/34 in name of Erech Lechem [Maharikash], Vayakhel Shlomo, Chida and Zechor Leavraham, Rashi, Aruch; Radbaz; Sheilas Yaavetz 1/101, brought in Yad Efraim, refused to allow a picture to be made on a bill of currency, saying that it is forbidden; Yearos Devash 1/2, brought in Pischeiy teshuvah 141/7 severly warns against having even pictures of these forms, even though from the letter of the law it is permitted; Chochmas Adam; Misgeres Hashulchan on Kitzur SHU”A 168/1 concludes one is to be stringent; See Ran brought in Darkei Moshe 141/4 that by Madur Elyon both protruding and internal are forbidden while by Madur Tachton only protruding forms are forbidden; See Teshuvas Lechem Rav 15, brought in Gilyon Maharsha 141/4

[21] The reason: As any of the forms that the Torah prohibited due to “Lo Sasun Iti” of the supernal worlds [i.e. Madur Elyon] and lower worlds are forbidden to be made whether in a protruding or internal method, and only regarding the Rabbinically prohibited forms is there a difference between a protruding or internal method. [Ramban, brought in Taz ibid] 

[22] Taz ibid; Chochmas Adam; Misgeres Hashulchan on Kitzur SHU”A 168/1

[23] Darkei Moshe 141/5 in name of Mordechai Bava Basra 549 and Avoda Zara 840 in name of Maharam; Taz 141/13 “Seemingly a drawing/painting is more lenient than even an internal engraving, [and is thus permitted]”; Kneses Yechezkal 13, brought in Pischeiy Teshuvah 141/6; Yad Efraim 141 “According to majority of Poskim making a drawing is permitted”; Kneses Hagedola 141/67, brought in Darkei Teshuvah 141/47

[24] The reason: As a mere drawing cannot be defined as a sculpture/Pesel in any way as was never included in the prohibition against making the forms of Madur Elyon or Madur Tachton. A Pesel is something that is engraved or a sculpture, and hence a mere drawing is not included in the prohibition of Shkas, which is an internal engraving. [Darkei Moshe ibid in name of Mordechaiy and Maharam]

[25] Shach 141 in Nekudos Hakesef on Taz 141/13 “it is completely incorrect to suggest a difference between a  drawing and an internal engraving, as is implied from all the Poskim”; Divrei Yosef 8 in implication of Rambam, brought in Pischeiy Teshuvah 141/8; Sheilas Yaavetz 1/101, brought in Yad Efraim, refused to allow a picture to be made on a bill of currency, saying that it is forbidden; Vayakhel Shlomo, Lechem Rav 15, Divrei Malkiel 3/58 in name of Rashba and Ritva that a drawing is considered Boletes, brought in Darkei Teshuvah 141/34-35; Beis Shlomo Y.D. 1/36 brought in Darkei Teshuvah 141/36, that a painting on a vessel is considered Boletes; Chochmas Adam; Misgeres Hashulchan on Kitzur SHU”A 168/1 concludes one is to be stringent; Yearos Devash 1/2, brought in Pischeiy Teshuvah 141/7 severly warns against having even pictures of these forms, even though from the letter of the law it is permitted; Dvar Shmuel 247, brought in Darkei Teshuvah 141/29, protests against making pictures of angels due  to sacrilege;

[26] Michaber 141/4; Rambam

[27] Shach 141/22 based on Girsa in Sefarim Yisheinim; Taz 141/8 in Girsa of Michaber ibid

[28] Shach 141/17, 23, 29; Kitzur SHU”A 168/1; Neharei Afarsamon Y.D. 116-118; Yad Elazar 129; Darkei Teshuvah 141/32

Other opinions: Some Poskim rule it is permitted to ask a gentile to make a sculpture of forbidden forms, as by a sin on an item there is no Shlichus. [Chasam Sofer Y.D. 128 based on Beis Meir E.H. 5, brought in Darkei Teshuvah 141/32]

[29] The reason: As the prohibition of Amira Lenachri applies reagridng all prohibitions, and not just Shabbos. [Shach ibid; Beis Shmuel 5/16; Beir Hagoleh; Admur 243/1; 343/5; 450/20; Ribis 72; Sheila Usechirus 29; Michaber C.M. 338/6 [regarding muzzling animal]; Question brought in Bava Metzia 90a and above Poskim rule stringently-see Biur Hagr”a 5/32]

[30] Shach 141/27

[31] Michaber 141/4; Shach 141/26 that this allowance applies whether to make or own

[32] Chasam Sofer Y.D 128, brought in Darkei Teshuvah 141/30; See there that he can make the sculpture incomplete and then ask a gentile to finish it off.

[33] Michaber 141/7

[34] Rosh; Tur; Rabbeinu Yerucham

Other opinions: See continuation!

[35] Michaber ibid

[36] Rama ibid

[37] Shach 141/25

[38] Semag Lavin 32 brought in Shach 141/32; Taz 141/15 in name of Perisha, in name of Rashal, who brings in name of Semag that he is stringent even with a mere head; Maharit Y.D. 2/35 in implication of question of Ran ibid who did not answer that a mere head of a human is allowed; brought in Birkeiy Yosef 141 and Gilyon Maharsha 141/7; Kneses Hagedola 141/22, brought in Darkei Teshuvah 141/40 and 50; Yaavetz 1/170, brought in Pischeiy Teshuvah 141/10 rules that even according to the Rosh, only a plain face without eyes and without a body is valid, however a body with a face  is invalid even if it does not have eyes, and likewise a face with eyes and a nose is invalid even without a body; Yaavetz 2/104, brought in Yad Efraim 151/4; Beis Lechem Yehuda ibid; Rav Poalim 4/10, in name of many Rishonim who argue on the opinions brought in Michaber ibid

[39] Shach 141/32; Shelah p. 73b, brought in Pischeiy Teshuvah 141/11

[40] Rav Poalim 4/10

[41] The Yaavetz writes that his father the Chacham Tzevi refused the Amsterdam communities request to make a drawing of him, even though most Poskim rule it is permitted to do so with a mere drawing, and it is not a complete figure and rather just his face, he nevertheless refused. Nevertheless, the community did not relinquish from their desire and secretly made a perfect drawing of his father when he was not noticing, and this painting was later published in the multitudes. [Sheilas Yaavetz 1/101, brought in Yad Efraim 141/4] Divrei Malkiel 3/58, brought in Darkei Teshuvah 141/34, protested against making pictures of even Gedolei Yisrael due to the prohibition of making a human form, as well as that according to Kabalah, a spirit of impurity resides on pictures , and by having a picture of a Tzaddik one causes impurity to reside on it.

[42] See Sichas 1950/51, 67

[43] See Sichas 1950/51, 67; Igros Kodesh [Rayatz] 12/86 [send picture to a Chasid]; Igros Kodesh 3/81; 11/162 and 12/266 [against fears]; Heichal Menachem 3/242 [To place by chair of Mila]

[44] As a) Some Poskim rule a mere drawing is permitted. b) One is not actually drawing the picture and is simply having the camera do so for him based on his command. Now, although this is a classical case of Kocho, which is forbidden, nevertheless, when added to the previous reason it seemingly carries greater leniency.

[45] See Halacha C; See Yaavetz 1/170 [or 101], brought in Pischeiy Teshuvah 141/10 and Yad Efraim 141/4, forbade the minting of coins with a face on them; See Bava Kama 97b regarding the “coin of Avraham Avinu” which had faces on the front/back.

[46] Maharit 2/35; Yechaveh Daas 3/64; However, see Yabia Omer 3/8

[47] The reason: As it is made for mere amusement. [ibid]

[48] Yechaveh Daas 3/64

[49] Michaber and Rama 141/7 as brought above

[50] Rav Poalim 4/10

[51] Maharit 2/35; Yaavetz 2/104, brought in Birkeiy Yosef 141, Yad Efraim 141/4; Beis Lechem Yehuda ibid; Rav Poalim 4/10, in name of many Rishonim who argue on the opinions brought in Michaber ibid; See Baiy Chayeh Y.D. 175 in name of Radbaz 107 and Mabit 1/30, brought in Yad Efraim 141

[52] Baiy Chayeh Y.D. 175, brought in Yad Efraim 141

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