• This article introduces a new perspective, the history of vision, into the study of rabbinic literature. Specifically it examines how rabbinic visual regimes dealt with those objects and images that it designated as idols. It argues that rabbis took seeing seriously and that they developed a set of strategies to shape the viewing of problematic visual objects such as idols. These ranged from gaze aversion to looking askance. However, even the refusal to look at idols needs to be understood in light of late antique understandings of intromissive, extramissive and tactile vision, and more narrowly, in terms of the reciprocal dynamics of sacred viewing.