Rabbi Dr Zvi Aviner
IDOLATRY- 11 /
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:
FIRST COMMANDMENT OF MOSES
I Am (Essence of G-d)
YHVH your ELHM (Attributes of G-d)
Who took you out of Egypt Land (KINGSHIP of G-d)
SECOND COMMANDMENT OF MOSES
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.”
Note that Moses does not leave here
an option of neutrality, of worshipping no one.
Man is born to withstand that battle of attractions;
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
From IDOLATRY Into ADULTERY
Then from ADULTERY to BLOODSHED
Then from BLOODSHED to THEFT
Then from THEFT to INJUSTICE
Then from INJUSTICE to BLASPHEMY
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.
THE PARTICIPANTS LOOKED VERY CONTENT AND HAPPY.
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,
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
ELHM CONSULTED in plural.
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.