Noahide Seven Commandments Torah classes
© 2012 by Rabbi Zvi Aviner
Session 3: basics of the IDOLATRY Commandments
Last class we focused on the First and Second of Moses’ Ten Commandments:
IDOLATRY in the Ten Commandments
MOSES’ FIRST, POSITIVE COMMANDMENT
(Know your CREATOR)
I am (Essence)
YHVH (Lord) your ELoKiM (G-d) (Attributes)
Who took you out of Egypt (Kingship)
MOSES’ SECOND, NEGATIVE COMMANDMENT
(Do not worship idols)
“Thou shall have no other ELoHiM,(Side by Side me)
over my face(lower than me)
“Thou shall not make yourself a status or any likeness(idols of wood and stone)
Of that which is in the Heavens above or on the Earth below,
“Thou shall not bow to them nor serve them” (Exodus 20: 2-3) (any idol)
Both Commandments express IDOLATRY, the top is positive, whom should we know and warship,
The other, negative part, speaks about the idols, whom we should worship not.
Man is caught in the middle, as if facing two choices or two attractions:
1. Either be attracted to your CREATOR
2. Or be attracted to the idols.
There is no ‘neutral’ option of being not attracted to one of the sides.
While we focused last time on the upper, positive part, today we’ll focus on the second, negative part, on the idols to their kind.
Let’s repeat some of the main points of the last class about the positive part. This would help us to comprehend the second, negative part.
We’ve said that everything began before CREATION,
when the Infinite, Nameless CREATOR felt a Supreme Will
To ‘shower’ His MERCY, COMPASSION, FORGIVENESS and LOVING on a physical world.
But, as we’ve said, there is a ‘problem’:
There is no meaning to MERCY without a previous harsh JUDGEMENT!
There is no meaning to COMPASSION without the presence of someone in PAINS, SUFERING or facing DEATH
There is no meaning to FORGIVENESS without the presence of SIN
And there is no meaning of LOVE without rejection.
Hence, we’ve said, there is no meaning of YHVH in our world, without the presence of a harsh JUDGE, ELoKiM.
Therefore: “At the Beginning, ELoKiM created the Heavens and the Earth.”
At the Beginning, the world was created only by the JUDGE.
For Six long Days He created it ‘alone,’ by Himself, His name appearing in the text 32 times, in the most concentrated fashion found in the Torah.
No other chapter would carry ELoKiM’s name in such a dense fashion.
Now the number 32 is written ‘Lb,’ which means ‘heart.’ It suggests that ELoKIM did not only create the Universe, but He sustains it as the heart sustains the body.
Moreover, He takes care of it, putting His Heart in it.
And there is another facet: He created it while His Heart LONGED to see another Attribute, YHVH, coming to dwell in it.
All these notions are derived from the Hebrew texts itself.
And then, we’ve said, on the Sixth Day late in the afternoon just before the entrance of the Sabbath,
ELoKiM turned to YHVH, who dwell in the next CREATION Day, on the Eternal Sabbath,
and asked HER to ‘come in’ and share with Him the ruling of this world.
Only then He would be satisfied and deem His CREATION to be, not just ‘good,’ but Very Good.
Only if ‘She’ comes in, and exercise MERCY, COMPASSION, FORGIVENESS and LOVE on the world,
ELoKim would be satisfied and cease from creating any ore.
You may ask, who on earth would be the subject of ELoKIM’s Judgment?
The answer is: All creatures are under His scrutiny, including the mosquito, the crocodile, the trees and the stones.
Each item in Nature is judged in its own universe.
After all, ELoKiM is kind. He provides and shelters His creatures.
He gives abundantly, but He also demands something back, ‘measure for measure.‘
We can’t tell what the judgment of the mosquito is, since it is between the mosquito and its CREATOR, ELoKiM.
Perhaps the judgment of any creature is, first of all, to abide by the Natural Laws.
But with Adam, ELoKiM’s Judgment turns more meaning, for Adam is blessed with Free Will.
So ELoKIM set Himself up, so to speak, to create Adam to stand a judgment.
On what exactly would Adam be judged?
For that, you don’t need to cross the ocean or climb on a high mountain.
The terms of Adam’s trial, the Rabbis said, is given in the very verse of our creation,
When ELoKiM said, “Let Us Make Adam in Our Image and Our Form.”
This miraculous verse expresses Adam’s trial.
This is expected, since ELoKiM is harsh but fair.
He wouldn’t place Adam in the trial without first informing him on the details.
The verse shows that how He planned to make Adam for a trial.
This by itself is so unique!
With all other creatures, ELoKiM just said “Let it be,” and things happen.
He said “Let it be light,” and light happened.
He said “Let it be fish in the waters,” and the waters were swarmed with abundant fish.
He said “Let the luminaries hang in the sky,” and they hung in the sky.
But before creating Adam, He consults someone, saying “Let Us.”
With whom did He consult?
Last time we discussed ELoKiM’s consultation with YHVH, who appears as an Acronym at the end of the Chapter.
‘Standing’ on the Sixth Day, so to speak, before making Adam, ELoKiM turned to YHVH and consulted Her.
“Would you come in to share my world with me?” He asked.
‘SHE’ entered and said, “Who could understand me in your world?”
“Let us Make Adam in Our Form and Our Image. Adam would let you dwell in his heart.
Adam would abide by my laws, and you’d exercise your Mercy.
Adam would emulate me and conduct truthful judgment, and exercise your Mercy, Compassion and Forgiveness.”
No one was there to record the Attribute’s dialogue, but we can imagine it according to the Torah.
Let’s construct such a putative dialogue, so that we would understand how Adam was made.
Heavenly dialogue before making Adam
YHVH would say, “Why do we need to place Adam in trial? Had I made him myself, I would have required no trial and no tribulations from him.”
ELoKiM would answer, “But without placing him in trial, how would he ever perceive your MERCY, COMPASSION and FORGIVENESS?“
YHVH would say, “What would be the terms of his trial? I would not wish it to be too harsh!”
SHE would honor the JUDGE ELoKiM to establish Adam’s trial.
ELoKiM would say: “Here is Adam’s trial:
First we would expect from him, like any father and mother expect from their beloved child, to recognize and honor us,
and not to replace us by other false parents or worship them.
We would expect him not to prefer one of us over the other.
He should rather see us and accept us as ONE.”
In short, ELoKiM expects Adam to abide by the IDOLATRY law.
ELoKiM would continue:
“We would expect him to be in our form and our image, to emulate us.
He should therefore love and cherish his family, the way we cherish each other.
He should sanctify his family life, like we sanctify our oneness.
He should exercise pure and holy sex life, by observing lawful marriage.
He should refrain from sexual relationships within his family besides his wife.
He should stay away from sexual promiscuity and perversions that you, YHVH, hate so much.
He should emulate your modesty, YHVH, and your ways of purity.”
In short, ELoKiM expects Adam to abide by the ADULTERY laws.
Indeed, soon as Eve was formed in Eden, it says:
“Therefore a man leaves his father and mother, cling to his wife so that they become one flesh.”
“One flesh” refers to the ONE G-d, who is present in the marriage.
Hence marriage is not a contract between a male and a female.
Marriage is, rather, a ‘place’ where YHVH dwells in this world!
ELoKiM continued His plan for Adam’s trial:
“We would expect Adam to emulate your hated, YHVH, to cruelty and evilness.
He should not shed blood. He should murder.”
In short, ELoKiM expects Adam to abide by the BLOODSHED law.
“We would expect him to emulate me, and cherish rightful private ownership.
He should therefore not STEAL.”
In short, ELoKiM expects Adam to abide by TEHFT.
“We would expect him to emulate me and seek a truthful JUSTICE.
He should erect courts and elect qualified judges.
At the same time, he should exercise your Mercy, Compassion and Forgiveness.
In his just system he would unite us to one!”
In short, ELoKiM expects Adam to abide by JUSTICE and Civil Order.”
“Moreover, Adam should appreciate your desire to dwell in his world.
He should know how to separate the mundane from the holy.
He should aspire to introduce more of your holiness in the world.”
Thus ELoKIm expects Adam to abide by the BLASPHEMY laws.
YHVH would say, as if She does not know:
“How would Adam be aware of all these demands?”
ELoKIM would say, “We’ll give him the Torah in which we would inform him about his trial and how to win it.”
Building Adam for the IDOLATRY trial
ELoKiM then set Himself us, so to speak, to build Adam according to the above plan.
First and foremost, as the above dialogue shows, He built Adam to withstand the IDOLATRY trail.
As ELoKIM said, He would demand from Adam to recognize his heavenly ‘parents’, honor them and not worship any false one.
For that, He would keep Himself and YHVH concealed, unseen and undetected,
And would refrain from showering any reward or punishment in a direct obvious fashion.
For if the Parents are seen, who would recognize and worship other entities?
If reward is readily seen, who in the world would NOT worship the true CREATOR?
Hence to make the trial meaningful, Adam would be expected to LEARN about his Parents, without seeing them.
Who then serve as potential false Parents, whom Adam would warship instead of his true CREATOR?
These entities would fill the IDOLATRY trial with content.
Adam should be fascinated by them instead of the CREATOR,
And he should adore and worship them instead of YHVH ELoKiM.
Who could these entities be?
The rabbis said, they were established, naturally, at the time of Adam’s planning,
When ELoKIM said in plural, “Let Us Make Adam in Our Form and Our Image.”
As it turned out, ELoKiM spoke to other entities besides YHVH and consulted them to make Adam.
By this, He made the impression that they are as important as Himself in the making of Adam.
As if they are His Partners in the endeavor.
Now why would ELoKIm do this on purpose? Why would he place IDOALTRY traps before our souls?
The answer is profound.
ELoKiM is kind and provides. He gives, but also demands something back in returns, for He works by ‘measure for measure.’
When He consulted all there other entities to make Adam, he did it for our benefits, as gifts.
But miraculously, with Wisdom, He made these entities so charming in our eyes that we would adore them and worship them!
Let’s see how He did it. And in the process, we would learn much about ourselves, how we are built, what are our challenges and so on.
The Rabbis asked, With whom could ELoKIM consult before our CREATION?
And th simplest answer would be: let’s look at the verse. It keeps the subject of the consultation hidden.
In fact, any one mentioned in Chapter One, either before making Adam or after making Adam can be a candidate to the consultation.
Let’s remember that He ‘stood’ at the Sixth Day when He said these words,
Hence he could look backwards at the story of CREATION behind, and consult anyone in the past,
Or he could look forwards to the end of the Chapter, and consult anyone mentioned there, in the future.
By this series of consultations he created Adam layer by layer, each layer is formed by a consultation,
All of them together would make our body and soul.
And all that is, first of all to make Adam a special creature built from the past and the future,
And at the same time a creature who would be challenged by the IDOALTRY trial,
Always wondering Who created me, and for what purpose?
Always looking for a solution, a direction where to go, whom to worship.
Always been challenged by the option: Should I follow YHVH ELoKIM words as given to me in the Torah,
Or should I worship other false gods?
Note again that there is NO OPTIION OF WORSHIPPING NO ONE.
If you don’t recognize and worship your CREATOR, YHVH ELoKIM,
You’d fall into the trap which is waiting for you at the door of your heart: the attractive idols to their kind.
No escape from this choice possible!
A series of consultations
He consulted the First Day and made Adam. It means: he consulted the Big Bang, the Chaos and order, the Light and Matter, and made Adam accordingly.
The Rabbis said, ELoKIM looked at the Torah and made Adam.
First He turned ‘back’ to CREATION, to the Six Days, and consulted them one by one,
saying to each Day of CREATION, “Let us make an Adam in Our Form and Our Image.”
He then consulted the Second Day: the separation of ‘Water below’ from the ‘Water above,’ from space, and made Adam.
He then consulted the Seeding of life that He had planted on earth on the Third Day, and made Adam.
It means He consulted the DNA, RNA, the basic foundations of the cell, and made Adam. i<
He then consulted the Vegetation of the (Second half of the) Third Day and made Adam.
He consulted the Sun and the Moon seen on earth on the Fourth Day and made Adam.
He consulted the Fish, the birds and the amphibians of the Fifth Day and made Adam.
He consulted the Cattle, Beast, Crawling social creatures like ants and spiders and bees of the Sixth Day, and made Adam.
This way ELoKiM made Adam’s body as the end of a long ‘Evolution’ in Nature.
You can the evidence of these consultation in the embryo as we develop in our mother’s uterus.
By this series of consultation, the CREATOR ZELoKIm gave us a precious gift.
We are a part of Nature. We can identify with each item in it.
As such, we are lawful rulers of Nature, since a ruler must come form the rank of his subjects.
Thus ELoKIm gave us a gift. But at the same time he opened the door for idolaters, to think that CREATION has created us.
In fact, we have tended in history to worship many items in nature as if they are our CREATOR.
And we still do this.
ELoKiM then consulted Hs Anglessaying, “Let us make Adam in our form and our image.”
“Why are you consulting us?” They wondered, “Aren’t we your faithful servants and messengers who perform your wish?”
Indeed, the Angles who were born on the Second Day, have no sense of discretion, yet they are part of our Universe.
“I consult you my Angles,” ELoKiM said, “to teach Adam modesty,
To show him that the Superior should consult the Inferior.” (Rashi)
“But our KING,” they said, “why are you speaking in plural? Are you not afraid that idolaters would think they have more than one CREATOR?”
ELoKiM answered, “I am aware of your concern, yet I took the risk of IDOLATRY, for I want to teach Adam modesty, which is paramount.”
By this, ELoKiM planted in Adam a strong, arrogant Ego, a Self which aspires to grow and rule over.
Our ego is important. It gives us a sense of consciousness, of individuality, of independence.
It is an enormous gift, which we share with no other animal or creature.
You can see the big Ego in a child, who draws himself big while his parents look smaller.
The ‘I’ of the child is enormous. It comprises the entire world around him.
Only later as he or she grows, the child learns to cope with other ‘Self.’
Yes, we would not stride to excel in our world without the I Am,
But it serves at the same time a source of idol worshipping, the most common on Earth:
Where ar person worships himself. We would call it the sweetest idols of all…
ELoKiM continued then turned to the Wisdom by which he had created the world,
Saying to it: “Let Us make Adam in Our From and Our Image. “
He then consulted Wisdom like a builder who consults his blue print, and made Adam accordingly.
Adam would therefore have in him a strong, wise mind that can comprehend NATURE and decipher its mysteries.
You can see the love for Science growing in a child of 8-13 age when we become more and more extroverts.
Again, this consultation of ELoKIm with Wisdom and Science is an important gift.
Science helps us to develop technology, wealth and health. It helps us to understand the physical world in which we live.
But it can turn into an powerful IDOLATRY trap. We would tend to replace our CREATOR by our science.
We would be tempted to think that science can indeed solve all of our problems.
But Science can be used for wrong purpose, for Wars and Death Camps.
Then ELoKiM looked ‘forwards’ to the rest of Chapter One and consulted the first verse that comes on:
In it, ELoKIm blesses Adam: “Be fruitful and multiply and conquer Earth.”
By consulting each of these entities, ELoKIM planted in us a powerful drive forwards,
which drives Adam to create things and make a name for himself.
Thus ELoKiM ‘consulted’ “be fruitful and multiply,” which is the drive for PROCREATION, or Sex life.
By blessing it, ELoKiM has turned Procreation to a powerful, magic drive, much stronger than found in Nature.
Henceforth Procreation and Sex life would pull us to create things and make names for ourselves, as Freud discovered.
You see this in a teenager age 13-20 old, whose life is dominated by Sex drive.
Powerful; Sex drive is a precious gift. Yet it acts also as an idolatry trap.
It may consume us to the degree of worshipping it, instead of our CREATOR.
ELoKiM then turned to the other item in the verse, namely to “rule over,” and consulted it too.
He said to it, “Let Us Make Adam in Our Form and Our Image.”
By this, He made our drive for Power and Dominance a strong motive to create and make a name for ourselves.
You can see it in full power in mature, young peoples, at the prime time of their lives.
Seeking Power is an important gift from our CREATOR, ELoKiM,
But also an important IDOLATRY trap.
We may indulge in it to the degree that it becomes a passion, an idol, worshipping it instead of our CREATOR.
Thus we see how ELoKIm built Adam specifically to withstand the IDOLATRY trial.
The idols may change as we grow. We may become fascinated by different items in different periods of our lives.
Mankind too can become fascinated by different items as we grow in History.
People can worship Art, Political party, Drug, Alcohol, and other passion to the degree that they have dominate our lives, instead of G-d.
These might be the modern types of idolas we all face today.
The idols we have discussed can be seen as ruling:
Side by Side with ELoKiM. Meaning a person can believe in G-d, yet he places one of the above idols alongside ELoKIM, seeing this item as important as G-d.
In front of ELoKiM, worshipped as ELoKIm’s inferiors.
Instead of ELoKiM, forgetting ELoKiM altogether.
Now we can better understand Moses’ Second of the Ten Commandments:
“Thou shall not have
Other ELoKIM (Side by Side with me, similarly powerful)
Over my face (as my servants)
Thou shall not make (man-made statues and images)
Thou shall not bow to them” (to any entity which exerts magic on your heart and mind)
(Discuss Enosh’s errors.)