Torah.org Home Subscribe Services Support Us
 

Idolatry

It doesn't take much intelligence to understand why G-d forbade the worship of idols (or of any other individual or force in nature). For one thing, they are silly pieces of wood and metal, stars, mountains, trees, or human kings. They don't have any supernatural powers that will help anyway. Since the Torah forbade stupidity, keeping away from idolatry will keep you away from a pretty concentrated form of stupidity. For another thing, idolatry is a distraction from our real purpose in life, which is to serve G-d.

What should bother us, though, is how could anyone fall for such stuff in the first place? How could great segments of the world's population and a good part of the Jewish nation (from time to time) take up just this stupidity of idolatry?

In order to avoid this difficult issue we'll discuss something else. Maybe by the time we're finished the original question will be forgotten... or maybe this will lead us to the answer. G-d wants all of His creations to do nothing more and nothing less than His will. G-d created human beings so they can do his will, but He added a twist. They must do it out of their own free choice. Whatever G-d gets out of having us serve him, He gets more out of it if it's voluntary, rather than robotic.

If G-d were to speak to you today in a booming voice, with thunder and lightning and a clear, heart-stopping vision of the place that awaits sinners, you'd probably do what He said, right? But would it have been out of free will? Not really. You would more or less have been bullied into serving Him just as if someone were holding a gun to your head and threaten to use it unless...

If everything were as clear and immediate to us as that hypothetical vision, all of our Mitzvah (commandments) observance would be robotic and automatic. That would not meet G-d's "needs." In order for the world to accomplish its purpose, the truth has to be a bit foggy, there has to be at least the appearance of alternatives.

That brings us back to idolatry. If there was nothing in the world to serve besides G-d, then it wouldn't be much of a challenge. Therefore, G-d made it a fair fight (in effect gaving us free choice) by making idolatry attractive. G-d gave it at least the illusion of power. There really might have been some supernatural power to idolatry - it really might have brought success and wealth and other good things. In a word: it idalotry look stupid and it might not even have been stupid. But it was, nevertheless, wrong.

Perhaps idolatry isn't the challenge to belief today as it once was, but the free will to decide between right and wrong is still very present and very powerful.


Rabbi Boruch Clinton teaches at the Ottawa Torah Institute yeshiva high school and Machon Sarah high school for girls (both in Ottawa, Canada). You may reach him with comments and questions at bclinton@torah.org.

You can now read some of Rabbi Clinton's essays on Torah life at http://www.ncf.ca/~es625/essays

You can also buy his collection of essays on the Book of Shmuel (Samuel) in printed form at www.lulu.com/marbitzmedia

Copyright 2000 by Rabbi Boruch Clinton and Project Genesis, Inc.

 


ARTICLES ON MIKETZ AND CHANUKAH:

View Complete List

A Mysterious Ending
Rabbi Berel Wein - 5770

Sharing The Pain
Rabbi Yochanan Zweig - 5775

Passive Action
Rabbi Aron Tendler - 5763

Looking for a Chavrusah?

LIVE TODAY TO LIVE TOMORROW/Earning Our Slice of Eternity
Rabbi Naftali Reich - 5774

A Spiritual Holiday
Rabbi Yehudah Prero - 5755

Chanukah and the Torah Scholar
Shlomo Katz - 5762

ArtScroll

Learning His Lesson
Rabbi Pinchas Avruch - 5765

Estrangement from Siblings - A Kindness?
Rabbi Yaakov Menken - 5758

The Light of Torah
Rabbi Yosef Kalatzky - 5763

Frumster - Orthodox Jewish Dating

A Higher Calling
Rabbi Mordechai Kamenetzky - 5759

Yosef Recognizes His Brothers
- 5773

Chanukah
Rabbi Berel Wein - 5761

> Seeing the Plan to Fruition
Rabbi Pinchas Avruch - 5763

What Miracle?
Rabbi Yaakov Menken - 5760

The Miracle of the Oil
Rabbi Pinchas Winston - 5775

If You Have It, Don't Flaunt It
Rabbi Yissocher Frand - 5759



Project Genesis

Torah.org Home


Torah Portion

Jewish Law

Ethics

Texts

Learn the Basics

Seasons

Features

TORAHAUDIO

Ask The Rabbi

Knowledge Base




Help

About Us

Contact Us



Free Book on Geulah!




Torah.org Home
Torah.org HomeCapalon.com Copyright Information Copyright 2000 by Rabbi Boruch Clinton and Project Genesis, Inc.
 


ARTICLES ON MIKETZ AND CHANUKAH:

View Complete List

The Real Story
Rabbi Yaakov Menken - 5763

The World of Learning
Rabbi Label Lam - 5764

Hanukkah
Rabbi Naphtali Hoff - 5775

Frumster - Orthodox Jewish Dating

Redeeming Factors
Rabbi Yehudah Prero - 5766

Every Little Bit Counts
Rabbi Yehudah Prero - 5763

Vengeance vs. Conciliations
Rabbi Berel Wein - 5765

> A Double Loss!
Rabbi Label Lam - 5767

Thanks for What?
Shlomo Katz - 5774

Two Year Prison Extension
Rabbi Yissocher Frand - 5757

ArtScroll

Chanukah and Mechiras Yosef: The Hidden Connection
Shlomo Katz - 5764

Help Wanted
Rabbi Yissocher Frand - 5762

Straightening Out The Cause And The Effect
Rabbi Yissocher Frand - 5773

Looking for a Chavrusah?

Growing Forever
Rabbi Label Lam - 5771

"Your Servant, Our Father"
Rabbi Yissocher Frand - 5775

LIVE TODAY TO LIVE TOMORROW/Earning Our Slice of Eternity
Rabbi Naftali Reich - 5774

Just Five More Minutes of Sleep!
Rabbi Yisroel Ciner - 5759



Project Genesis

Torah.org Home


Torah Portion

Jewish Law

Ethics

Texts

Learn the Basics

Seasons

Features

TORAHAUDIO

Ask The Rabbi

Knowledge Base




Help

About Us

Contact Us



Free Book on Geulah!




Torah.org Home
Torah.org HomeCapalon.com Copyright Information