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    Aboriginal sacred sites – Ask the Rabbi

    Q. Is there any problem with Jews visiting aboriginal sacred sites?

    A. Not really; it is clear to everyone that if a non-aboriginal is allowed to visit a site it is in the capacity of a respectful tourist. The visit cannot be construed as compromising one’s own religious beliefs or participating in the patterns of aboriginal spirituality.

    It has been suggested to me that there may be an analogy in the Mishnah Avodah Zarah (3:5), “If the gentiles worship mountains or hills, these themselves are permitted, but what is on them is forbidden… R. Yose the Galilean says, (It is written:) ‘Their gods upon the mountains’ (Deut. 12:2), not ‘The mountains are their gods’.”

    I have my doubts about this analogy. Do Aborigines have gods in the idolatrous sense? Are their sacred sites actually worshipped by them? We need to understand the nature of aboriginal spirituality in order to comment.

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