Drawing sun, moon, stars

Making a sculpture, drawing or engraving-Madur Tachton:

Making a sculpture, drawings and engravings of a sun, moon, stars, constelations:[1] It is forbidden to make the form of a sun[2], moon or stars [or the 12 constellations[3]]. [Some Poskim[4] rule it is forbidden to make any one of the 12 constelations even individually. Accordingly, one may not make as the form of a lion, ox, goat, lamb, fish.[5] Other Poskim[6] however rule it is only forbidden to make the 12 constelations when they are all together.[7]]

The prohibited form-Sculpture and protruding engraving versus drawing and internal engraving of above items:[8] It is forbidden to make any of the above listed forbidden forms in any manner, whether protruding [such as a sculpture or protruding engraving], or non-protruding [such as an internal engraving].[9] [Some Poskim[10] rule that nevertheless it is permitted to make a drawing of the above items.[11] Other Poskim[12] however rule it is forbidden to make even a drawing. Accordingly, it is forbidden to draw a sun, moon or stars, whether with a pen or pencil.[13] Practically, one is to be stringent in this matter.[14]]

Incomplete sculptures or engravings of other forbidden forms:[15] The above law applies to all the forbidden forms, that it is only forbidden to make the forbidden forms if they are completely whole, while a mere partial structure of the image, such as those who only make one half of the image, is permitted to be made in any way or form. [This applies even to the four faces of the chariot, that if all four faces are chipped or incomplete it may be made or owned.[16]  However, other Poskim argue on this ruling and prohibit even incomplete structures, as stated above, and it is best to be stringent, although one who is lenient is not to be protested.]

Sun-definition of whole form:[17] It is forbidden to make a full circle which resembles the sun. [However, half a circle is permitted, per the lenient ruling above.[18]

Moon-definition of whole form: Some Poskim[19] rule it is only forbidden to make a whole moon, while a half moon, such as appears in the beginning of the month is permitted to be made. Other Poskim[20] however rule that even a half moon is forbidden to be made, as moon has various size shapes throughout the month.

For learning purposes:[21] The above prohibition only applies when making an engraving or drawing 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 method [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 a sun, moon, stars 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 sclptures and one is required to make sculptures in order to pass the course.[22]]

Making for public:[23] It is forbidden for the public to make any sculpture or forbidden form just like a private individual.

Making for beauty and decoration purposes:[24] It is forbidden to make any of the above forbidden forms even for purposes of mere beauty and decoration.

Making for a gentile:[25] It is forbidden to make any of the above forbidden forms even on behalf of a gentile.

Having it made by a gentile:[26] 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.[27]



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 may not draw a picture/painting of the sun, moon or stars.

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.



What is defined as a drawing of a sun, moon stars?[28]

Only a drawing that resembles the sun, moon or stars in the eyes of people, and is commonly drawn by people when they desire to depict this form, is prohibited against being made. By a sun, this is defined as shining circle. However, a plain circle is not included in this prohibition at all. The same applies regarding the moon and stars, that a small plain circle or dot is not forbidden. Regarding incomplete drawings-see next!

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

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.[29]

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

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



[1] Michaber 141/4

[2] This refers to a circle which resembles the sun, as will be expaliedn in D!

[3] Shach 141/30; Taz 141/13; Bach 141; Tur 141

[4] Bach 141 brought in Shach ibid; Seeming conclusion of Taz 141/13

[5] The reason: As the lion is the sole constellation in the month of Av, and the ox is the sole constellation in the month of Iyar, and the fish is the sole constellation in the month of Adar. [Taz and Bach ibid]

[6] Shach 141/30 “We have never heard of anyone being careful in this matter, as it is only forbidden to make the 12 constellations together, and not individually.”; Implication of Michaber 141/6; Rashba 167; Shiltei Giborim; implication of Tosafus Avoda Zara 43

[7] The reason: This is simialr to the prohibition against forming the four faces of the chariot, in which case the prohibition only applies when done all together. [Shach ibid]

[8] Michaber ibid; Tur in name of Rabbeinu Tam; Tosafus Avoda Zara ibid in name of Riy, Rabbeinu Tam and Riva; Shach 141/25; Kitzur SHU”A 168/1

Other opinions: 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.

[9] The reason: As these items do not appear in the sky as protruding and hence their prohibition applies even when made in a non-protruding method. [Shach ibid; Taz 141/13] See alternative reason mentioned in Levush 141 and the questions of Shach ibid against his explanation.

[10] 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

[11] The reason: As a mere drawing cannot be defined as a sculpture/Pesel in any way and 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 anme of Mordechaiy and Maharam]

[12] Implication of Michaber ibid that drawing is forbidden, as it makes no difference if it is protruding or not; 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 168/2 on Kitzur SHU”A 168/1 concludes one is to be stringent

[13] Implication of Michaber ibid that drawing is forbidden, as it makes no difference if it is protruding or not;

[14] Pischeiy Teshuvah ibid; Misgeres Hashulchan ibid

[15] Shach 141/25; See Neharei Afarsamon Y.D. 118, brought in Darkei Teshuvah 141/40, for novelty of Shach

[16] Taz 141/7

[17] Darkei Teshuvah 141/37; See however Darkei Teshuvah 141/51 in name of Makor Mayim Chaim, Pnei Yehoshua and Mishnas Chachamim that even half a circle is forbidden by a sun. Vetzaruch Iyun!

[18] Mahram Alshich 77, brought in Darkei Teshuvah 141/38

[19] Mahram Alshich 77, Livyas Chein Parshas Bo, brought in Darkei Teshuvah 141/38

[20] Maharit Y.D. 2/35; Shoel Umeishiv Kama 3/71; Amudei Eish 16; Darkei Teshuvah 141/37-38 and 51 in name of Makor Mayim Chaim, Pnei Yehoshua and Mishnas Chachamim

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

[22] 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.

[23] Shach 141/27

[24] Michaber 141/4 regarding Madur Elyon

[25] Shach 141/22 and Taz 141/8 regarding Madur Elyon

[26] Shach 141/17 and 23 regarding Madur Elyon; 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]

[27] 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]

[28] Yad Haketana 2/3, brought in Darkei Teshuvah 141/46

[29] 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.

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