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Parsha MItzvot: Terumah: Depicting Rays of Light

In the day of the Chatam Sofer it was not too unusual for Jews, consciously or unconsciously, to model the synagogue they built on the patterns of church architecture. Many of the responsa of that period discussed the question of ‘copying the Gentiles’ in this connection.

In a responsa some dated 1837, Rabbi Sofer replies to the question of a Rabbi Hirsch whether it was right for a certain community to build a synagogue having a window in which was depicted a circle containing God’s name with light radiating from it in every direction. Rabbi Sofer states categorically that such a thing is forbidden. It is the practice of the Gentiles, but we Jews refuse to give the slightest credence to the view that physical rays of light can proceed from God.

He remarks that the Gentiles do this as we do in connection with the figure of Moses. – Teshuvot Chatam Sofer, Y”D # 129

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