Your ‘Blessed’ Emoji? Rabbi Brands It Idol Worship. by the Forward

Your ‘Blessed’ Emoji? Rabbi Brands It Idol Worship.

Image by Wikicommons

Could adding an emoji to that text message make you idolatrous?

Rabbi Shlomo Aviner, a France-born Israeli cleric, said that the popular praying hands digital emoji is not kosher — and that Jews should beware, as they may be committing avodah zarah, or “foreign worship,” one of the worst sins in Judaism.

“The source is the ancient idols of the Far East and of Christianity,” he told the Hebrew newspaper Yediot Aharonot, according to a Collive translation. He said Jews should have nothing to do with the gesture at all — whether in person or electronically.

The icon has a range of uses and meanings online — used to express simply “please” or “thanks.” It is often labeled as “folded hands” or “prayer hands.” Some argue that it actually depicts two people doing a celebratory high five. There are many different illustrated renderings of the emoji, depending on what operating system or application one is using.

Contact Sam Kestenbaum at or on Twitter, @skestenbaum


Sam Kestenbaum

Sam Kestenbaum

Sam Kestenbaum is a contributing editor and former staff writer for the Forward. Before this, he worked for The New York Times and newsrooms in Sana, Ramallah and Beijing. Contact him at and follow him on Twitter at @skestenbaum and on Instagram at @skestenbaum.

Your ‘Blessed’ Emoji? Rabbi Brands It Idol Worship.

Your Comments

The Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. All readers can browse the comments, and all Forward subscribers can add to the conversation. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Forward requires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not and will be deleted. Egregious commenters or repeat offenders will be banned from commenting. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and the Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.

Recommend this article

Your ‘Blessed’ Emoji? Rabbi Brands It Idol Worship.

Thank you!

This article has been sent!