Introduction to Jewish Meditation – Part 16

Idolatry

Below is the commandment:

You shall have no other gods before Me.

This, the second of the Ten Commandments, is clearly the converse and complement of the previous one–at Mt. Sinai, the entire Jewish people heard the first two commandments directly from the mouth of God.

“An Axe in the Hand of the Woodchopper”

The second commandment states that one must not place his trust in “other gods,” i.e., worldly causation, whether natural or seemingly supernatural. If, for example, one imagines that he receives his livelihood from the hands and good graces of others–thus making him psychologically dependent upon others–this is considered “worshipping idols in purity.”

In addition, this mitzvah implies that one should not even imagine that the powers of worldly causation have any substantial reality (i.e., independent power of determination). True, God has created the world with its inherent cause-and-effect dynamics, but these are ultimately controlled by Him–“like the axe in the hand of the woodchopper”–and one must therefore neither look to them for what he wants, nor sense gratitude toward them for what he has.

Sincerity and Commitment

By constantly eliminating such mixed-loyalty or foreign allegiance, the Jew becomes whole and complete in his sincere and single commitment (temimut) to God.

Sincerity is the inner experience of the Divine power of hod (“acknowledgement” and “thanksgiving”), corresponding to the soul of Aaron, as explained above.

 

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