Rabbi Dr Zvi Aviner

Nov 2021




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:



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 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:








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.



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.


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