Is Rambam For or Against Jews Participating in the Iftar Feast at the Home of Salim Jabbar, Head of the Abu Ghosh Council

A prominent rabbi tried to defend the participation of Jews in the Iftar Religious feast of Gentiles by the stating that Rambam holds, the religion of Salim Jabbar is not idolatry.

My counterclaim is that even Rambam would forbid the participation of ordinary Jews and all the more so Rabbis at Salim Jabbar’s Iftar feast.

A Picture and translated quote from the Srugim web site

הרב הראשי ונשיא המדינה בסעודת איפטר
With the background of heightening tension lately between Jews and Arabs, the Chief Rabbi of the State of Israel, Rabbi David Lau participated … together with the President of the State of Israel, Reuven Rivlin in the Iftar feast (Ramadan conclusion feast) in the house of Salim Jabbar, head of the Abu Ghosh Council

Among the latter Rabbis there is a dispute, did Rambam really believe that the Muslims do not sin on the issue of idol worship or perhaps from the precedent of Ulla, Nedarim 22a, Rambam expressed an opinion on the matter that has a double meaning.

Even according to the interpretation that Rambam really meant to exempt the Muslims from violation of the idolatry laws, this is not sufficient justification to allow the participation in the Iftar Feasts celebrated by Muslims.

The Karaite Precedent to Forbid Visiting them on Their Holiday, Even When There is No Concern About Idolatry

RambamResponsa of Rambam, Question #449

Rambam was asked regarding, how should Jews loyal to Rabbinic Judaism deal with Karaite Jews who do not follow the accepted Rabbinic understandings and interpretations of the Torah? How should we deal with them regarding giving circumcisions to their sons, greeting them, going to their houses, the status of their wine, etc.?

Rambam answered regarding the Karaites of his days that dwell here, in the region of Noe Amon, and in the land of Egypt and Damascus and the rest of the places in the land of Yishmael and elsewhere, that it is fitting to give them some honor and to draw near to them with upright acts and to act towards them with humility and truthfully and in peace all the time that they act with us innocently and remove from themselves crooked speech and devious talk, refrain from speaking astray about the rabbinic sages of the generation, and all the more so that they are careful about not mocking or deriding the words of our holy rabbis, the Holy Tanaim, sages of the Mishna and the Talmud, that by their words and their customs that have been fixed for us from their mouths and the mouth of Moshe who received it from Hashem, do we follow.

Under this condition it can be established for us to honor them, and to inquire about their peace, even in their houses and to circumcise their sons, even on Shabbat, and to bury their dead and console their mourners.

Now a proof for the matter is what they taught in a Mishna in tractate Gittin {61a}… we strengthen the hand of the Gentiles in the Sabbatical Year, but not {Sabbatical year work} performed by Israelites and we inquire about their peace because of the ways of peace and it was stated about this in the Gemara, Rav Chisda would initiate a Shalom greeting for them. Rabbi Nachman bar Yitzchak would say to them, peace be unto to thee my master. Now all this was for the purpose of not giving a double Shalom, because we don’t give a double Shalom to a Gentile. And it was taught in a Braita {Gittin 62a}. “A man should not go to the house of a Gentile in the day of his holiday to greet him with Shalom but if he encounters him in the market, he may greet him in an undertone and in a solemn manner”.

We can deduce from this that if it is not on the day of his holiday it is permissible to go by his house and inquire about his peace and many incidents in the Talmud will prove this in the Gemara, such as the incident of Rava together with B. Sheishach etc. as it is {also} found in tractate Avoda Zara, chapter 1 and if this is true for idolaters all the more so for someone who rejects all the manners of the Gentiles and admits to the Almighty, exalted be his name, that it is permissible to inquire about their peace and even in their houses. However, if they defile in an open way the sanctified holidays of Hashem in the days that are fixed for us, it is forbidden for a son of Israel to visit them in the day that they established for themselves, what they invented from their own hearts.

For the continuation of Rambam had to say about this topic, you can see what he wrote in Hebrew at 

The continuation of what Rambam has to say about the Karaites is not sufficiently related to the main goal of this post. Namely, I wish to prove to supporters of the current Chief Rabbi of the State of Israel, Rabbi David Lau, that Rambam does not favor visiting the houses of Gentiles, even those free of idolatry, on the days they are celebrating made-up religious holidays.


I do not share some of the basic assumptions that supporters of Rabbi David Lau make about Salim Jabbar, the Israeli Arab head of the Abu Ghosh Council. The point of this post however, was to convince those people that don’t share my views of Salim Jabbar, that it is still wrong to visit him on his made-up holiday. Or at least don’t put the blame for your actions on Rambam.

Regarding the made-up holidyays of the Karaites. Rambam is alluding here in particular to the problem, that the Karaites would not follow the calendar established by Rabbinic Judaism, so their holidays would often fall on the wrong day of the year. For example, their Pesach (Passover) holiday might fall on the 15th of Adar instead of the 15th of Nissan.