Rabbi Dr Zvi Aviner
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
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)
YHVH your ELHM (ATTRIBUTES)
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.
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
YHVH your ELHM
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
IDOLATRY IS A BETTLE OF KINGSHIP
IDOLATRY IS A BATTLE OF ATTRACTIONS