Rabbi Dr Zvi Aviner

Jan 2022


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Creating Adam Into a Battle of Fascinations




Idolatry as an error of the mind

A misdirected fascination and passion


An idol, by definition, is something we adore,

something we are fascinated with, or enchanted by it

so much that we would passionately love and even worship


FASCINATION and PASSION are at the core of IDOLATRY.


IDOLATRY therefore is not only an intellectual error

of worshipping something which is worthless,

it is also a misdirected fascination and passion,

involving both the mind and the heart.


 Let’s make the distinction

between superstition and idolatry


Ancient Man, out of ignorance, related natural calamities

to bad spirits and demons, believing they can be manipulated

by witchcraft or by bribing them with offerings and sacrifices


To  ancient Man,

the unknown seemed studded with imaginary powers

some positive but mostly adversaries

that should be pleased to keep them away.


This sort of superstition should not be confused

with what the Torah calls IDOLATRY.


When the Speaker – ELHM- says in the Ten Commandment,

“You shall have no other ELHM over my face”

He refers to an error in identifying the CREATOR.


A true idol, in the Commandment’s context,

is any entity that Man confuses with the True CREATOR

Like any entity that ELKM consulted with

at our creation



You can see that in the text.

The option of IDOLATRY, we said last class, opened to Adam

when ELHM said in plural voice –

Let Us make an Adam in Our Form and Our Image.”


According to Rashi, the Angels asked:

“Our KING, aren’t you afraid that by speaking in plural

you’ve opened the door for idolaters

to think that Man has many creators?”



Definition of IDOLATRY

Hence the primary definition of an idol, in Moses’ eyes,

is any entity which people might confuse with the CREATOR

seeing it either as His “Partner” or His “substitute”.

This error is logical, intellectual and emotional



Man is born to seek G-d

From the Angel’s question it seems that they knew that Adam

would be born with the DESIRE TO SEEK THE CREATOR.

They worried, though, that Man might err

and worship someone else instead


Thus, Man is born to be inspired, fascinated, enchanted

by many things.  This is a gift from our CREATOR, ELHM,

Yet it serves as a base for the IDOLATRY trial.


Man is born to be enchanted

either by idols, leading him to worship them

or by the True God and worship Him

Hence, IDOLATRY is a battle of fascinations

 raged in our mind and heart



The IDOLATRY Commandment on Sinai

This battle is expressed in the Ten Commandments:



I Am (Essence of G-d)

YHVH your ELHM (Attributes of G-d)

Who took you out of Egypt Land (KINGSHIP of G-d)



You shall have no other ELHM beside me

You shall not carve out…


Here, Man is depicted as torn  between two options:

Either accept the Kingship of G-d

presented in the First Commandment, “above”


Or accept the Kingship of the idols

presented in the Second Commandment, “bellow”


This is why Kabbala refers to the idols as “The Other Side.”

Sitra Achra.



Note that Moses does not leave here

an option of neutrality, of worshipping no one.

Man is born to withstand that battle of attractions;

no escape


You may ask why is it so?

Isn’t the “good G-d” interested in our welfare and peace?

Why did He bother to place us in such awesome trial?


The only answer is that the SPEAKER,

as stated explicitly in Exodus,

is the JUDGE ELHM. (not YHVH) (Exodus 20:1)


And as we’ve learned,

ELHM the All-Mighty JUDGE, creates for JUDGMENT, for trials.

We are here to enjoy life, but stand for it in trial and win it


Thus, Man is destined to be forever called to choose between

worshipping The True G-d of Israel, or worshiping  idols


Now, since passion is the hallmark of any religious devotion,

How could you distinguish between Passion of worshipping idols

from Passion of worshipping the true God?


What separate the passion of worshipping idols

From passion of worshipping G-d? o


On the surface, Passion is passion.

But there is one way to distinguish between them:

To observe the outcome of that passion.


For idol worshiping would always lead to

sliding down along the Commandments

and violating them one by one









This predicted pattern would help you to detect IDOLATRY

and separate it from worshipping Hashem.

Since worshippers of HaShem would never fall down

along the cascade of Adam’s Six Commandments



Examples? Are many.


The Golden Calf

In the classical sin of IDOLATRY, the Golden Calf,

it is said that:

The people sat to eat and drink

and they got up to revel” (exodus 32:6)


On which the Midrash says:

They fell into wild sexual promiscuity and orgy.

Hence: Their IDOLATRY prompted ADULTERY


The Rajneesh guru      

The infamous cult of the Rajneesh, that settled in Oregon in the 1980th,

attracted many young people by the promise of

a new world of brotherhood, bereaved of rivalry and competition

free of family obligations and restrictions.


It sounded so nice and peaceful,

yet the Rajneesh’s followers worshipped their guru laterally,

prostrating on the ground before his legs,

even surrendering their income to his personal pocket

thereby committing IDOLATRY


But soon those “flower girls and boys” of the Rajneesh,

engaged in extremely wild sexual promiscuity, ADULTERY.

They practiced group sex with ecstasy, enhanced by drugs and alcohol.



But as you might predict, soon the press reported cases of

MURDER and poisoning, namely BLOODSHED.

Thus, their IDOLATRY

degenerated into wild ADULTERY

followed by BLOODSHED.


Next, their leader, Shila, escaped the Guru

with all his money and precious watches – THEFT.


The alleged cover up that followed by all sides,

presents INJUSTICE.



Don’t take your passion and excitement,

as a sign for the validity of your faith

Remember that IDOLATRY is a battle

between fascinations and passions,

as well as intellectual concepts



Now, who are those potential idols of Mankind,

that the Angels feared?  


As we’ve learned,  ELHM opened the door for IDOLATRY

by speaking in plural, saying Let Us.

Man is always TEMPTED to err and think

that there are “other ELHM” and worship them.


Who are those “other ELHM”, the potential idols?

From the Angle’s question we derive that

they are the entities with whom



Who are these entities, exactly?

The Rabbis said: He spoke to

Whoever was listening,  

Whoever was in the “room” with Him 

Whoever is mentioned in the chapter


Thus ELHM, as a BUILDER,

consulted each entity mentioned in Chapter One

and made Adam accordingly.

He built Adam, and used the same building blocks

for the IDOLATRY trial.


For when ELKM is involved,

there is no free lunch. He gives, and asks something in return

measure for measure, take and give,

close the cycle with justice.