Nine Letters # 8 – Idolatry and the Rest of the Commandments

You  ask me if the God of Tanach is the same as Allah of Islam. I am not familiar  with Islamic theology so I cannot answer your question – but I get the gist of  what you are driving at. If I understood you correctly – you are asking me how I  could equate a god who demands that his followers blow themselves up in order to  kill innocents – with a God who holds every human life precious to  Him.

Again, I take the liberty of assuming that I understood  your question.

Your question blurs an important distinction – the  distinction between idolatry, which relates to the act of worship (and I refer  here to the act of self-negation and complete submission that is only  appropriate towards the Master of all existence) – and between every other part  of our lives before God.

I  will bring two Scriptural concepts forward to support my contention. First – When it comes to idolatry – God did not rely on the agency of Moses or on our  ability to interpret His word to teach us this commandment. He chose to teach it  to us as a national unit – directly – Himself – before He gave us the first book  of Scripture. The Torah highlights this truth in Deuteronomy 4:35 – by saying  that we were granted a complete knowledge of this matter – something that is not  paralleled with the other commandments. Second – the act of idolatry is  consistently portrayed as an act of adultery that violates our covenant with God – also not found with the other commandments.

It  is theoretically possible to come to a solid understanding of God’s will – to  have a deep understanding into the justice that God desires, and a  grasp of the kindness that God loves, and an awareness of the holiness that  God demands – and still be an idolater.

It  is also possible to get everything wrong – not understand the justice, kindness  and holiness that God wants and not be an idolater.

You  see – when God prohibited idolatry – He did not just say “don’t worship the sun  and the moon” – but He also said – don’t use anything to represent Me  (Deuteronomy 4:15). In other words – even when worshiping the God of Abraham  Isaac and Jacob – who abhors murder and immorality and who loves kindness and  justice – but we direct ourselves towards something from within finite existence – it  is idolatry. It doesn’t make a difference what we believe about this something – it is still idolatry.

On  the other hand – if we never heard of Abraham Isaac and Jacob – and our sense of  God’s will is inaccurate (which it is for every human being – though for some  more than for others) – but our worship is directed completely away from all  finite existence – towards the Master of all finite existence – then we have not  committed spiritual adultery and we are not idolaters.

Back to your question, I don’t know what Moslems worship – but if their worship is directed away from every finite existence towards the  infinite Master of all existence – then when Israel’s God is exalted – they will  not be shamed as idolaters.

In  response to your quote from Revelations – last time I checked – the lamb is  created by God – walked God’s earth and breathed His air. I am well aware that  we can call ‘finite” “infinite”, and call “created” “Creator”, and call a “man” “divine” – and attribute all of these to “mystery”.

This is not Jacob’s portion – Jeremiah 10:16, Isaiah  45:19

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Thank You

Yisroel C. Blumenthal

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