Rabbi Dr Zvi Aviner
IDOLATRY-8 / Creating Adam Unto 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.
Distinction between superstition and idolatry
Ancient Man, out if ignorance, related natural calamities
to bad spirits and demons, believing they can be manipulated
by witchcraft or bribed by sacrifices
To the 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
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 ELHM
either as His “Partner” or His substitute.
This error is logical, intellectual and emotional
Man is born to seek G-
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 el
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 destined to be enchanted
either by idols, leading him to worship them
or be attracted to the True God and worship Him
So, IDOLATRY is a battle of fascinations raged in our mind and heart
IDOLATRY Commandment on Sinai
You see that battle 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 apart between two t options:
Either accepting the Kingship of G-d presented in the First Commandment, “above”
Or accepting the Kingship of the idols presented in the Second Commandment, “bellow”
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 God” interested in our welfare and peace? Why did He bother to place us in such an awesome trial?
The only answer is that the SPEAKER is, as stated explicitly in Exodus, the JUDGE ELHM
And as we’ve learned, ELHM the JUDGE creates for JUDGMENT, for trials.
We are here to enjoy life, and stand for it in trial, AND WIN
Thus, Man is destined to be forever called to choose between
worshipping The True G-d of Israel, or the 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 God
On the surface, Passion is passion. But there is one way to distinguish between them:
We have to observe the outcome of that passion.
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: IDOLATRY prompted ADULTERY
The Rajneesh guru
The infamous cult of the Rajneesh, that settled in Oregon s during the 1980th, attracted many young people with the promise of new world of brotherhood, bereaved of rivalry and
competition, free of family obligations and restrictions.
It sounded nice and peaceful, yet there was a problem: the Rajneesh’s followers worshipped their guru laterally, prostrating on the ground before his legs, surrendering their income to his personal pocket and usage.
On the surface, the passion exhibited by the Rajneesh followers was no different from any other religious passion. Passion is Passion, people say.
But soon those “flower girls and boys” of the Rajneesh, began to engaged themselves with wild sexual promiscuity, so wild that is beyond what ‘normal’ people might even imagine. “These people are obsessed with sex,” commented one of their neighbors (see that on U Tube). Theirs was a group sex, done in ecstasy and tremendous passion, enhanced by drugs and alcohol.
THE PARTICIPANTS LOOKED VERY CONTENT AND HAPPY following this practice.
But as you might predicted, soon the press reported cases of MURDER in the camp and around it. There was an attempt by the community members to poison their opponents.
Thus, their IDOLATRY degenerated into wild ADULTERY followed by BLOODSHED.
Next came to light the unbelievable story how their leader, a woman by the name Shila, escaped the Guru with all his money and precious watches. Hence, from BLOODSHED they degenerated into THEFT.
The alleged cover up that followed by all sides present another predictable step – Adam’s Fifth, INJUSTICE.
Don’t take on 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, G-d, 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
Thus, ELHM opened a. series of Consultations
And each provided a layer in Adam’s body and soul.
Adam is made as a “dummy” in the ground, a “golem”
Layer by layer, then YHVH ELHM blew His Spirit – in Oneness
Into Adam’s soul so he became a “living soul”.
Let’s observe those layers.
The first one, as we recall from last class,
Was ELHM’s consultation with YHVH
When ELHM, the Attribute of JUSITCE,
consulted YHVH, the Attribute of MERCY
to make Adam in “Our Form and Our Image,”
He made a big concession and gave us a precious gift.
The advent of YHVH in the Heavenly Court, protects us,
Offering us a chance to repent, ask forgiveness and start all over again
So that we might become Very Good in ELHM’s eyes
And see the next Day, the Sabbath.
This was a great gift, yet at the same time, a room for IDOLATRY
Since Adam would forever be tempted to err and think
that YHVH and ELHM are two different gods.
This would be a grave intellectual error,
That Enosh indeed committed before Noah’s Flood
But also, an emotional mistake, a misdirected passion and worshipping
Man would be ATTRACTED by either ELHM alone, or YHVH alone
Man would be fascinated and charmed by MERCY and COMPASSION alone.
Our hearts usually fill with joy and warmth towards Her
So much, that we would be tempted to prefer Her over ELHM
Or forget ELHM altogether,
Saying that His Laws are abrogated
On the other hand,
Our heart might be filled with awe to HLHM
We may adore His Might, His Absolute Justice without Mercy
We might feel pious by lifting swords against infidels
Enforcing His Laws as harsh as they are, tooth for a tooth and eye for an eye
Our heart would be thrilled to follow Him only,
Forgetting the Merciful YHVH
As the Children of Cain did before Noah’s Flood
In both occasions, we have failed the IDOLATRY Trial
Hence, never take PASSION and JOY and a sense of CONTENT and HAPPINESS
as a sign for the truthfulness of the idol
Feeling good by the idol is a part of the IDOLATRY trap
Now who are other ELHM’s councilors
With whom He consulted to make Adam?
They are all potential idols, which Adam might confuse
With the True CREATOR
ON THAT WE’LL DISCUSS NEXT CLASS