Skip To Content
Fast 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 [email protected] or on Twitter, @skestenbaum

I hope you appreciated this article. Before you go, I’d like to ask you to please support the Forward’s award-winning, nonprofit journalism during this critical time.

Now more than ever, American Jews need independent news they can trust, with reporting driven by truth, not ideology. We serve you, not any ideological agenda.

At a time when other newsrooms are closing or cutting back, the Forward has removed its paywall and invested additional resources to report on the ground from Israel and around the U.S. on the impact of the war, rising antisemitism and the protests on college campuses.

Readers like you make it all possible. Support our work by becoming a Forward Member and connect with our journalism and your community.

Make a gift of any size and become a Forward member today. You’ll support our mission to tell the American Jewish story fully and fairly. 

— Rachel Fishman Feddersen, Publisher and CEO

Join our mission to tell the Jewish story fully and fairly.

Republish This Story

Please read before republishing

We’re happy to make this story available to republish for free, unless it originated with JTA, Haaretz or another publication (as indicated on the article) and as long as you follow our guidelines. You must credit the Forward, retain our pixel and preserve our canonical link in Google search.  See our full guidelines for more information, and this guide for detail about canonical URLs.

To republish, copy the HTML by clicking on the yellow button to the right; it includes our tracking pixel, all paragraph styles and hyperlinks, the author byline and credit to the Forward. It does not include images; to avoid copyright violations, you must add them manually, following our guidelines. Please email us at [email protected], subject line “republish,” with any questions or to let us know what stories you’re picking up.

We don't support Internet Explorer

Please use Chrome, Safari, Firefox, or Edge to view this site.