How could a building like the Mishkan or the Beit HaMikdash, or a natural phenomenon like a cloud (at Har Sinai) contain the Presence of the Almighty (Ubiquitous, the infinite volume; omnipotent; omnipresent; omniscient etc. G-d)?
1 Kings 8:12-13; Schneerson: “With the commandment to erect a Sanctuary, G-d gave the promise ‘I will dwell within’. That promise was fulfilled with the manifestation of G-d's Presence in the Sanctuary. The Divine Presence within our material world. [I.e. His immanent presence, rather than יהוה Himself see 1 Kings 8:27].
Idolatry is the most condemned act in the Torah. What makes idolatry a more serious offense than murder? What makes it so believing an inanimate object has spiritual powers is a worse sin than irreversibly ending another person’s life? Obviously one can reverse the damage of praying to a piece of metal or stone made into a certain shape. But no one can ever undo taking away another’s life.
Looking at different explanations regards Avodah Zarah, different/various forms of idolatry, I tried to sum things up, I tried to get to get a definition out of it based on their common denominator.
Avodah Zarah (strange service/worship);
The adjective in ‘strange service’ has two senses. One is the strangeness of the object toward which the service/worship is directed, not the ‘proper G-d’ but other ‘gods’. The other refers to the method of service/worship, strange in the sense one serves in a matter that is strange to the Torah, strange to the ‘proper’ way of service.
[which in essence could imply the belief in certain idea, image or object].
So we got a strange method of worship one the one hand and strange object of worship on the other. Is this what Avodah Zarah is? Or is there more to it? And secondly I would like to know what drives or causes a person to do Avodah Zarah in the first place; i.e. what lies at the core of it? Is there a reason why it’s so hard to serve the ‘proper’ G-d in a ‘proper’ way?
The Torah says the world is less than 6000 years old. Science says it is billions. Scientific and archaeological evidence show human civilization dating back nearly 30,000 years! Anyone with a reasonable mind, even someone with full faith in the accuracy of the Torah, finds this hard to ignore. How can these discrepancies be explained, and what does the average rabbi say about this?
Rabbi JJ Hecht wrote that the real meaning of what Moshe said when he heard, from Mount. Sinai, the noise of the people worshiping the Calf: "Kol Anot Anochi Shomea" (32:18) is: "I hear them shouting: 'Anochi!' (Anochiyut!)”;
[I hear the voice of selfish preoccupation (Anochiyut; egoism, egotism), the voice of arrogant selfishness].
Looking at the words: "Anochi HaShem Eloheichem - אָנֹכִי יְהוָה אֱלֹהֶיךָ " (Shemot 20:2 & 20:5, Devarim 5:6 & 5:9)" I noticed that on the one hand HaShem emphasizes that we should serve Him while on the other hand using the exact same words HaShem emphasizes that one cannot serve others ( כִּי אָנֹכִי יְהוָה אֱלֹהֶיךָ אֵל קַנָּא). This reminded me of two great teachings:
And G-d said to Moshe: “Hew for yourself (Psal Lecha) two tablets of stone", (Exodus 34:1). And "Do not make for yourself a hewn image (lecha pesel)", Exodus 20:4.
I can't remember the source but I once heard that: the key to understand the difference if on where we place the word 'lecha (yourself)'. Because in the first occassion, in the oreder of the sentence, the carving comes first, and 'yourself' is secondary. While in the commandment against idolatry, on the other hand, 'yourself' comes first, and the carving is secondary. The difference is that in one occassion we make our ego secondary to our service. While in the second occassion we place our ego first and let us create our own image on how to live.
Likewise there is this drash on Devarim 5:5 where the words: “I (Anochi) stand between HaShem and between you...” are taken to mean that our (Anochiyus) I-ness, ego, self-centeredness, is the screen that separates between human and the Divine. It is 'anochi' – egotism – that separates us from G-d.
Are there any commentaries which link the idea of ego/I-ness/self-centeredness with idolatry ?
And could it be that people started following their own 'inner voice' after Moshe left who was a kind of mounthpiece through which the Almighty spoke?