This week, we're told about many of the mitzvos asei and mitvvos lo saasei- the positive and negative mitzvos, and each one is explained in depth. One famous commandment, which we've learned about since kindergarten, is the prohibition of Idolatry. Worshiping or serving another god.
Now, some of you are thinking "Hey, I live in the Five Towns, or in Brooklyn, or in Eretz Yisrael, or in any other choshuve Jewish community in the world. We don't do avodah zarah! We'd rather die!" But, nonetheless, the Torah speaks a lot about the issur of avodah zarah, serving a foreign god, so it must be speaking to us in some way.
So the question is, Is there really the concept of avodah zarah today?
There are two basic fundamentals of Judaism that we're all probably aware of.
#1- There are two worlds. A- the physical world and B- the spiritual world. The physical world is where we use all of our senses. The spiritual world is something abstract, untouchable.
#2- Everything that happens in the physical world is a projection of the spiritual. There isn't a movement in the physical world that doesn't have a source in the spiritual world.
An example of this would be looking at a human being. A- they have a body. B- they have a soul. The body uses the five senses. The soul is the persons' essence, personality...
When you like someone, you like them not because of their physical body, but because of their essence. You get to know them, and then you like them. Yet, you can't touch their essence, no matter how close you are to them.
When we see a physical emotion, it's a projection of how the spiritual is feeling. If you see someone smile, it's a projection of what the neshama is doing. The way you see a person walking down the street is usually a projection of his essence.
I remember back to when my first child was born. She was only two days old when she did the most brilliant thing any two day old baby has ever done. She smiled! I was so proud that my child was so content with her new life. All those other babies out in the nursery, with their post birth smashed cone-heads, were crying day and night, and my bundle of beauty was smiling in my arms. Ahhh, what an expression of the soul. Well, my fantasies were shattered as soon as the nurse interrupted my bragging by explaining that she's not smiling at me- it was 'just gas'.
Now this can be problematic sometimes.
Lets take a trip into Hollywood for a second. What's an actor? Physical body. His essence is acting. The body movements aren't real. He's constantly acting in a certain way because he has to.
We became so used to looking at someone's body and deciding who they are- by the way they move, by the things they say or do- that we don't get to know who they really are. Therefore, when we have an opportunity to really know them, we might be disappointed.
Someone once said that when he was younger, he was obsessed with a certain baseball player. He lived and breathed this guy. He worshiped the ground he walked on. Then, one day, after a successful game, a long long line of fans opened up before him, all eagerly awaiting his name in ink on their beloved balls or tees. Our friend was standing on the line, wearing his yarmulke and tzitzis, making his nationality obvious. Suddenly, in a booming voice, in front of everyone, and carrying over to the mikes which were broadcasting live in every living room, were the star players' blunt words: "I DONT GIVE AUTOGRAPHS TO JEWS".
Bang. Smash. Shatter. This boys' image was completely ruined. He was depressed for weeks. What an idiot!! But the problem was, the star didn't just become an idiot. He was always the same. But we get so carried away with the externalities that we don't see the inside.
An IDOL , was meant to be a representative to G-d. Throughout the generations, people would sometimes make a physical representative of Hashem. The problem is, though, that at times they would forget what it represents and they would start bowing down to and worshiping the image instead of G-d himself.
Hence the double usage of the word idol. The ones in Hollywood are also called by that name.
Rav Dessler teaches us that the yetzer horah of avodah zarah is the humans ability to see the outside and not the inside. To focus on the external instead of the internal. To concentrate more on the shuckeling, than on the davening itself.
When we get carried away with the projection and not the source, THAT'S avodah zarah.
Have you ever had deja vu? Have you ever had deja vu? ;-)