Copy Right 2022
Rabbi Dr Zvi Aviner
IDOLATRY-17/Nature, a Beautiful Idol
Know your creator, know yourself, and know the difference
It is not enough to know the idols, whom we should not worship,
It is no less important to know G-d, whom we should worship.
Otherwise, we would easily err.
We’ve therefore discussed, so far, G-d and His names and Attributes,
as they appear in Genesis Chapter One.
Denying the existence of G-d, or His Attributes,
or following one Attribute over the other, breaching Oneness,
is a form of high-level IDOLATRY, as it happened in Noah’s time,
and as it is happening now in our time.
We move now in our class to discuss the idols themselves.
Who are they? How are they defined by Genesis Chapter One?
So, let’s consider the verse that describes the creation of Adam.
When ELHM planned Adam, He announced in plural:
“Let Us Make an Adam in Our Form and Our Image.”
It was the first time He announced a project, prior to performing it.
Until Adam, ELHM just issued orders, like “let there be,” and thing happened.
But before creating Adam, He spoke in plural, inviting – consulting – other entities
to join him in the project.
In other words: prior to creating Adam,
ELHM “descended” from His high pedestal as a sole “Dictator”
and set on a new Throne as a King Who Consults, a “Democratic King,”
who listens to the opinions of others before making a decision.
With whom did ELHM speak, or ‘consult’?
The Torah doesn’t specify, leaving it open – on purpose.
The Midrash offers some options: He consulted the Angles,
the Truth, the Peace, and some other ‘good’ entities,
and they all objected the making of Adam, since he would
violate them all.
Rashi focuses on the Angels.
Saying “Let Us make an Adam,” ELHM sounded as if
He was asking their consent, so they answered Him:
“Our KING, why do you consult us at all?
Aren’t we your faithful messengers, who fulfil your wishes
with no discretion?” Indeed, the Hebrew word for “angle,” malaach,
refers to a messenge, even a human one.
Let’s note that the angles referred to ELHM as Our KING,
since this was the first time ELHM consulted anyone.
ELHM then answered:
“I consult you, my angels, to teach Adam modesty, that the
superior would consult the inferior.” (Rashi)
Since Adam is destined to “rule over” our world, as Chapter One says,
ELHM wished to show Adam that the best way to rule it would be
as a King Who Consults, rather than as a Dictator
And by a strike of pen, the Torah elevates Democracy
as a religious dictum.
Democracy is not only the preferred mode of government,
but also the one sanctioned by the Torah. Noahide should teach
that to all humans.
The Angles continued asking:
“Our KING, aren’t you afraid that by speaking in plural
you’ve opened the door for idolaters to believe
that there are more than One CREATOR, You?”
ELHM, the KING, answered them: “I take the risk of IDOLATRY, for teaching
Adam modesty is paramount!”
ELHM knew, so to speak, that by becoming a King Who Consults, a Democratic King,
He had allowed opposition to exist! That is an inherent cost of true Democracy!
And that ‘opposition’ is ‘IDOLATRY.’
Who are the idols?
In principle, they might be any imaginary entity which surfaces
on Adam’s mind, replacing G-d.
But the Midrash is more specific:
Whoever ELHM consulted with at Adam creation
might serve as an attractive idol in the idolater’s mind.
It is as if the very consultation with ELHM has rendered it
A magical statue in Adam’s mind.
So magic, that the idolaters would be allured to worship it
along with, or instead of ELHM.
Therefore, the Midrash asks:
With whom, exactly, did ELHM consult in plural voice?
The answer is: With whoever was listening,
or whoever is mentioned in Genesis Chapter One.
He consulted these entities one by one, as they appear in the chapter,
and each one contributed a distinct layer in Adam’s body and soul.
This way ELHM provided Adam with precious gifts
that would allow him to survive and thrive in his habitat- Earth.
Let’s recall that ELHM, the All-Mighty JUDGE, is just and fair,
and He is the ultimate PROVIDER, who provides every creature
with all the talents needed to its welfare
Thus, He’s provided the Fish with gills, the birds with wings,
the crocodiles with sharp teeth, and so on. Each of the
uncountable number of creatures in the world is equipped
with the special talent it needs to adapt to its environment
and thrive in it.
Similarly, ELHM provided Adam, by the series of consultations,
all the features and talents that Adam would need to
survive and thrive in our habitat within ELHM’s harsh world.
Thus, for instance, ELHM –
Consulted the Six Days to make Adam’s body from the best material available,
Consulted His Own Wisdom, by which He created the world, and planted it in Adam’s mind,
Consulted the ability to appreciate and produce Art, and planted it in Adam,
Consulted His own Self Consciousness, and made Adam accordingly,
Consulted Passions and Desires in the world and planted them in Adam.
All these features are precious gifts from ELHM, allowing Adam
Not only to survive and thrive but also to have a meaningful life on Earth.
ERLHM has also planted in Adam the ability
to be fascinated, to stand in awe, to adore and even worship
those very gifts that He has planted in Adam.
Those gifts are important ingredients in Adam’s psyche,
but would also serve as Adam’s potential idols
Thus, ELHM is saying to us:
Enjoy and be fascinated by Nature and its beauty, but don’t forget me, the creator of nature.
Enjoy and adore Wisdom and Science, but don’t forget me, who has implanted it in you.
Enjoy and create Art and Music, but don’t forget me, who has given this talent to you.
Enjoy and follow your Passions and Desires, but don’t forget me, who’s planted them in you.
Enjoy and cultivate your Self-consciousness, but don’t forget me, who has given it to you.
For if you do forget me, if you worship these attractions over my face,
you would surely slide down from IDOLATRY to the violation of
the rest of my guidelines, my Commandments, committing
ADULTERY, BLOODSHED, THEFT, INJUSTICE and BLASPHEMY,
to your detrime
1. ELHM Consulted the Six Days
And made Adam
Thus, like a CEO of a modern company that builds humanoids,
Who assembles all the experts in the company to contribute
their expertise to the new project,
so did ELHM assemble the Six Days of CREATION and asked
each Day to provide a layer in Adam’s body.
Note the modern way that Moses describes Adam creation,
at the time when all civilizations around him described it
by mythical weird stories, full of sexual perversions
and rivalry between the gods.
to each Day, ELHM said:
“Let Us Make Adam in Our Form and Our Image.”
Each Day ‘agreed,’ and ELHM consulted it
like a builder consulting his master plan,
and made a layer in Adam accordingly
He consulted the First Day and made Adam.
Hence Adam is made of stuff that stars are made of.
He Consulted the Second Day’s Water,
and made another layer in Adam.
Hence, our body constitutes mostly of waters.
He Consulted the Third Day’s Vegetation,
and made another layer in Adam.
Hence many parts of our body, such as the structure of each cell,
its DNA and RNA, and the photosynthesis performed in our eyes,
and our blood vessels that brunch out like trees,
all of that are contribution of the Third Days’ Vegetation.
He Consulted the Fourth Day’s Luminaries
and made another layer in Adam, accordingly.
By this, ELHM planted in Adam a biologic clock,
that appreciates days from nights, without which
our nervous system wouldn’t function.
He Consulted the Fifth Days’ fish, birds and crocodiles
and made other layers in Adam.
He Consulted the Sixth Days’ Cattle, Beasts and Crawling creatures
and made other important layers in Adam.
Adam, therefore, is the summary of everything created before him.
Is Moses’ Story
Supported by Science?
You can see the story played out
in the way the human embryo develops
in the mother’s womb.
We all start as a single cell, that divides and grows
into multi-cellular ball, then evolves into phases that
resemble Vegetation, Fish, Bird, Lizard and so on.
The scientists say:
The Onto-genesis repeats the Phyllo-genesis.
It means that each person repeats, in his mother’s uterus,
the entire Evolution, proving that ELHM consulted the
entire Six Days and made Adam accordingly.
ELHM has given us these gifts, so that we would identify
with nature and be a part of it. He has also planted in us
the ability to be fascinated by nature, enjoy its beauty,
adore the wisdom inherent in it, so that we would happily
engage ourselves with it AND RULE OVER IT.
A ruler, a king, says the Torah, should be elected from
among his subjects. A king can’t be an alien.
By making Adam from the Six Days, Adam is an
eligible ruler over his habitat.
Precious gifts they are, yet a source of IDOILATRY trap.
Adam might be so fascinated by scenes of nature,
so much swept in adoring nature, that he might be tempted
to worship nature and its forces.
ELHM therefore is asking from Adam: enjoy nature, be fascinated
by it, yet DO NOT FORGET ME, THE CREATOR OF NATURE!
- The Predicted Course of IDOLATRY
As it turns out, Moses actually predicts here the path
that IDOLATRY would take in history. Let’s see Ho
“Adam, where are you?”
In Eden, after their sin, Adam and his wife hid in the bush,
while G-d called them: “Adam! Where are you? “
Here on Earth, the reverse is true:
ELHM is in the hide, still calling Adam “Where are you? Come to me!”
And Adam is the one who keeps looking for Him!
Thus, Adam, in the Sixth Day of CREATION,
hears G-d’s calling him, “Adam! Where are you? Come to me!”
Adam keeps looking for ELHM, first of all,
in the creatures of nature around him, close to him,
creatures that were made with him on the Sixth Day,
like cattle, beast and “crawling snakes.”
And these creatures of the Sixth Day seem to Adam
so powerful, so magical, so fascinating, that he, Adam, is tempted
to think they are the ELHM whom he is looking for,
and he falls into the trap of worshipping them instead of the true ELHM.
Is this prediction true?
We can say that indeed, back in history, Mankind worshipped
holy cow, as the Egyptians did, mighty beasts, as all ancient civilizations did,
even worship snakes and dragons as the Greeks and Chinese did
, or worshipped a Fly, as the Philistines did.
Thus, the story continues:
As Adam becomes wiser, he realizes that those creatures
are not so powerful as he had thought. Yet, because he is still
hearing G-d calling him: “Adam, where are you? Come to me!”
Adam searches now the CREATOR deeper in Nature, in creatures
made on the Fifth Day.
Adam is so impressed by the great Fish, Birds and Crocodiles,
made on the Fifth Day, that he adores and worships them
– thinking that they are his CREATOR!
It is as if the very consultation with ELHM to make Adam,
rendered the Fifth Day’s creatures a magical power in Adam’s eyes.
Has this prediction of the Torah happen?
Indeed, the ancient Egyptians worshipped gods with faces of
fish, birds, and crocodiles; as did other ancient civilizations
of that time.
Now the story continues:
As Man becomes wiser, he realizes that that those creatures
of the Fifth Day, are not so powerful as he had thought, and he
looks for the CREATOR deeper in nature – in creatures made
on the Fourth Day.
Adam seeks the hidden CREATOR in the Luminaries,
the Sun, Moon and Stars, and they seemed to him
so powerful, so mysterious, so gorgeous that he is tempted
to think that they are the CREATOR, whose voice he is still hearing,
calling him Adam where are you? Come to me!”
Has this prediction materialized?
Of course – the Babylonians worshipped the celestial bodies,
even developing Astrology, believing that the star control the fate of Man. .
But as Man gets smarter he discovers the fallacy of those celestial idols
and he looks for the CREATOR deeper in Nature,
in creatures made on the Third day, like the Vegetation,
magnificent Trees and Mountains, and even Fertility itself.
And he worships them, as the Canaanites did,
who worshiped gods of fertility itself, the Baal and Ashtoreth,
and sacred prostitution.
Other nations looked even deeply in Nature,
into the Waters that covered Earth on the Second Day,
and they worship the Sea, as the Greeks and other nations did.
And nowadays, still hearing the CREATOR calling us
Adam, where are you? Come to me!
Mankind is looking for Him deeper in Nature,
in the most primordial elements of CREATION,
like in the Big Bang, in Quantum physics and other
mysteries of the First Day, thinking our origin lies there
But soon, let’s pray and hope, Mankind would get smarter and recognize
that the true CREATOR is not found in the world or in any cosmos before it,
but rather Heh is the One Who has created everything
and He is the One who placed us on that Planet for a purpose.
With who else did ELHM consult to make Adam?
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