Rabbi Dr Zvi Aviner


Dec 2021




IDOLATRY 12a/I Shall be a KING




Today we’ll arrive at the best, most inclusive definition of IDOLATRY


Moses builds up his case – against IDOLATRY – gradually.

First, he tells us a story about CREATION,

that is validated by our Science.

This, by itself, is a miracle, strengthening our faith in his words.


Since his story about CREATION is truthful,

His next words about Adam’s creation must also be truthful.


But Moses’s goal is not to inform us merely how we are built,

but rather, how we are built to withstand the IDOLATRY trial.


So, Moses tells us in detail how ELHM created Adam layer by layer,

by a series of consultations, each layer contributing

an important feature in our body and soul.


By this, ELHM gave Adam precious gifts,

Needed for our survival and our thriving,

But also, strong traps of IDOLATRY.



Thus, as we’ve learned,


ELHM consulted the Merciful YHVH

and set up a goal for Adam’s history

informing us how to become Very Good

and see the next Day


He then consulted the Six Days

and made Adam’s body accordingly,

another fact that we can verify by observing

the development of the embryo in the uterus

How amazing it is that Moses informed us this feature of Man

At the time that no one could even understand his words

As well as we can understand them now.

It seems as if he was speaking the truth

That only our generation can validate



Next ELHM consulted the Wisdom in His Head,

The Science by which He created the world

And planted it in Adam’s mind

Making Adam a smart, Homo Sapience,

capable of unravelling all the Universe’ mysteries



Then ELHM consulted the “Spirit of ELHM,”

Namely the art and beauty embedded in the Universe,

and planted it In Adam’s heart and mind.


This was also a tremendous gift to Adam,

Enriching our life with the ability to express our selves

By art, music, painting and sculping and music.

We can express ourselves more by Art, then by Science.


Thus, each of these layers has been an enormous gift to Adam,

but has also served as a source of IDOLATRY

Each layer adding another aspect of IDOLATRY



In our last class, we discussed the creation of

Adam’s SELF Consciousness and Free Will.

We’ve seen how this gift it has affected IDOLATRY.


Adam would worship his ‘self’, instead of God,

or reject god altogether, or could project

his own ‘self’ over the CREATOR’s SELF

Thinking that the CREATOR acts and feels

like a human being.


Indeed, by giving Adam a strong ‘self’ and free will

ELHM took a great risk of IDOLATRY,

since even the Angels wondered why would ELHM

create such an independent creature, bound to

rebel against his CREATOR.


ELHM, however, calmed the Angels down by saying

that He had taken the risk, for only an Adam

Equipped with strong ‘self’ and ‘free will’

is worthy of being called Very Good.



ELHM said to His Angels:

I consult you, taking the risk of IDOLATRY,

for I want to teach Adam modesty,

that the Superior should consult the Inferior

before making a decision.


Because of his strong ‘self’ and free will,

Adam would have to taught how to

curtail it, and follow God’s Commandments

to be Very Good


Now we follow Moses, and ask




What does the SELF want?





Of course, the ‘self’ basic wish is to survive

as individual, and as a species.

This is true for all life-forms on Earth.


The ‘self’ does also aspire to continue growing,

since otherwise, if it stays stagnant,

it would lose to competition and die.

This is true for every individual as well as for busines.


In Mankind, and in other advanced creatures,

whenever a ‘self’ encounter another ‘self,’

each one wish to continue growing

resulting in a “titanic clash’ (Hegel)

when each self, attempts to dominate the other

each self claiming, “I Shall be a King.”



The rabbis, who discussed that clash,

took this expression, ‘I shall be a king’

from King David’s son, Adoniah, who

rebelled against his father (Kings 1)


The rabbis used Adoniah’s words

since like Adoniah, our ego aspire

to rebel against our FTHER-KING in Heavens,

against God’s KINGSHIP




What is exactly G-d’s KINGSHIP?



Moses describes it in Chapter One,  

three types of G-d’s Kingship


1 For six Days, ELHM ruled as a dictator “awesomely alone,”

by Himself, giving orders, consulting no one,

asking no one’s opinion, tolerating no objection.


And His dictatorial way was effective and efficient,

Moving CREATION from Day to Day, with success



2 Then, before making Adam, changed His rule

and spoke in plural as a King Who Consults with Others,

a benevolent ‘democratic’ King.


3 Then, on the Sabbath, ELHM abstains His rule

and allows YHVH to reign alone.


So, Adam, made in ELHM’s Form and Image,

can emulate ELHM’s Kingship

and rule himself either by

tyranny. Democracy or extreme individuality

relying only on good hearts


But these three types of G-d’s Kingship, described in Chapter One,

Is repeated in the way we grow



In the uterus, each human embryo repeats the entire Six Days,

As we can validate by direct observation.



But after birth, the child develops also according to Chapter One.

First, in a small child, the ‘self’ is huge, big as the Universe.

You can see that in the way the child draws himself,

His own image big, and his parent’s image small.

A child also acts like a little dictator, as every mother would vouch for.


Then, as the child grows, he learns to recognizes

and accommodate other ‘selves’, like his parents, friends,

learn to enter a dialogue, coming to a compromise,

acting like a King Who Consults.


It is only when the child reaches puberty, sexual maturity

that he learns to surrender his ‘self’ to another ‘self’

out of love.



not only each embryo repeats the Six Day’s story,

but also, each child grow by repeating the three stages   

of G-d’ SELF, as shown in the miraculous Genesis, Chapter One.



 Mankind, too, evolves in history along Chapter One.

For thousands of years, Mankind knew only dictatorships.

And it is only recently, just few hundred years,

That Mankind has discovered the power of Democracy.


Why Democracy is the real  ‘power



Because, according to Chapter One,

Only Democracy can lead Mankind to be Very Good.


Any Dictatorship, even if it is successful for a while,

would ALWAYS lead to self-destruction.

How do we know that for fact?



For we can see that in Chapter One.

Had ELHM continued to create as a Dictator,

without consulting anyone, without Mercy,

ELHM would have surely terminated this world

as he had done to many Universes before (Rashi)


So, if G-d, ELHM, would have terminated His World

Had He continued as a Dictator,

Would not Adam ‘finish’ his dictatorship

In the same way – self destruction?


Do human dictatorship MAY be successful,

Even excel for a time, but it would never be ‘good.’

It would never rise above a ceiling.

Whereas human democracy, even when temporarily fails behind,

Would finally override and be, indeed, Very Good

So it could see the NEXT DAY


And with a strike of a pen,

Moses has elevated here Democracy

 to a religious dictum.



The King of Israel should never be a tyrant.

The Torah says (Deuteronomy)

“You shall surely place on you a king”

Implying that the king of Israel should be elected by his people


And when the prophet Samuel fiercely objected

the people’s demand to appoint on them “a king, like in all the nations,”

he warned them that this king would turn a tyrant

which is against the Torah’s Law





What does the SELF mean saying

“I Shall be a King?”



For one who wishes to be a dictator,

it means one thing –accept my decrees, or die!


But for one who wishes to be a king who consults,

becoming a king means something different.

It means: I aspire that people would –


Recognize me, as unique

Accept my superiority,

Even love me


Let’s note that the term “to be King” refers here

to the desire of the ‘self’ to FEEL a king,

feel respected, adored, even loved by others

rather than the desire to rule over.


In that sense, the desire to be king

is a receptive, passive desire,

to be elated by what others feel for him.


In fact, this passive implication of KINGSHIP

Is reflected in kabbalah, where the KING Sphere

Is at the bottom of all other spheres

Accepting their input


Hence, a ‘self’ who wishes to be

respected, adored or loved as a king

must impress others by his actions

so that they would ‘vote’ for him.


Here ‘king’ is not only a political entity

But rather anyone who wishes to

Be revered.

The Singer, would try hard to impress others by his singing,

The painter by his painting, the politician by his leadership



Be Fruitful and Rule Over



Thus, the desire ‘to be king’ is a precious gift

From ELHM to Adam, propelling Adam forwards

to create, impress, improve himself and society.


Yet, knowing that this desire to be a king

would not be shared the same by all peoples,

ELHM, in His Wisdom, decided to enforce

Adam’s desire to impress others.


ELHM turned to the rest of the Chapter,

Where it says


ELHM blessed them saying

Be fruitful and multiply,

And Rule Over …


Here are mentioned two blessings –

The desire to procreate, the Sex Desire

And the desire to rule over, wiled power


ELHM then consulted Procreation,

Consulted the Desire to Rule Over,

And planted them in Adam.


Both would assure G-d,

that Adam wouldn’t stay idle,

that he would rather exert all efforts

,to impress others, to rule over others

more than it is seen in Nature


Those two Drives would surely pull Adam forward

To impact private life and society.

Adam, loaded by these two drives

Would surely be prompted to achieve goals and be a king


The psychologists have recognized indeed,

As inferred by Moses,

these two drives are the most powerful drives in our soul

They only debate which one is the stronger?


Prof. Sigmund Freud argued that the Sex Drive is paramount

While Karl Young argued for the Desire for Power to be superior


Now, what does Moses say? You can see that in the text.

When you have two horses to pull a wagon,

one horse stronger than the other,

you’d certainly place he stronger at the very front.


Here G-d, placed in the text

The desire to rule over at the front

Of the desire to procreate, the Sex Drive

Implying that the drive for power is paramount



G-d’s Desire To Be a KING




Some say that

the initial desire of the CREATOR to create the world

has been the desire of His SELF “to be a King.”

A KING, who is ‘accepted’,’ loved’ and ‘worshipped’ by Man.


To gain our appreciation of Him as our KING,

He not only created the world

but continued to manage it in human history



G-d’s Kingship is expressed  in the Ten Commandments  

where the SELF, ‘I AM’,

is expressed to the outside

by the third line, His Kingship

As it says


I Am  (SELF)


Who took you out of Egypt Land (DEEDS, KINGSHIP )


Here the  SELF’S Desire to be KING is expressed in the last line

Which states His action and intervention in human history


Now how is all the above related to the topic of IDOLATRY?




The Desire to Be Impressed



And here we’ve arrived at the core of IDOLATRY


For to be a king, to be able to impress an audience

One has to have a receptive audience in the first place,

fore without prompted audience he/she would never be crowned.


In fact, having a receptive audience is a pre-requisite

For the king’s success. This brought many

To suspect that the audience is the real king


The Russian writer, L. Tolstoy, have depicted Napoleon

as a small, arrogant leader who was revered

by excited public seeking a leader.



when God planted in Adam the desire to impress others

He also planted in Adam the readiness to be impressed.

Meaning –

to be inspired, charmed, fascinated and emotionally aroused.


We love to be exited, to experience anger, sadness,

to be fascinated by art and music, beautiful natural scenes

we love to be elated and feel good.


As the result,

we would enthrone anyone, anything,

that fulfills our desires.


That tendency is a precious gift from ELHM,

Enriching our lives tremendously,

But has also opened the door for  IDOLATRY



And here we have arrived at the most basic and widest,

The most inclusive definition of IDOLATRY:


An Idol is anything that we surrender our lives to

or recognize him it as a king, instead of G-d.


This definition adds new types of idols- like  

Drugs, Alcohol, political party or a human guru


Now we can read better the IDOLATRY Commandment on

Moses’ Tablets:


I Am


Who took you out of Egypt Land (Kingship)




Thou shall have no other gods …


Here Man is depicted torn apart between two attractions

Either  look up and accept the Kingship of G-d’s Self (line 3)

Or fall a prey to the attraction of the idols