- Idolatry 2
- Moshe Ben-Chaim
- Reader: Dear Mesora, Thank you for your reply concerning my
question about the first four commandments. I was wondering if you
could be a bit more specific. Regarding the fourth commandment, what
would be considered a "graven image?" Are there graven
Mesora: Yes, Jesus on a cross is
graven if they feel by bowing or servicing to it will change natural
order. Idolatry is defined as attributing the ability of change in the
world to something other than God or the laws of nature He created. If
one even suggests that "nature" is God, he thereby commits
philosophical idolatry as he believes nature functions outside of its
laws by saying that nature is a creator, and not simply a creation.
Attributing creation to anything else than God is also idolatry.
- Reader: Is any picture, TV show, forms of art, photos,
decorative relics, pottery in the forms of animals or people, etc,
etc., improper to have around?
Mesora: There is no problem having
them around if they are merely decoration, and not worshiped objects,
but one is prohibited from creating 3 dimensionally experienced
objects in 3 dimensional form, such as things we experience on Earth.
That is, man, animals and the like. All these types of things which we
perceive in 3 dimensions are prohibited from being made in 3
dimensions, but can be made in 2 dimensions, such as a drawing, or in
3 dimensions but incomplete, i.e., an arm is missing. But, objects as
the sun and moon which we do not experience in 3 dimensions, as they
are things which we only look at from one angle, even these are
prohibited to be made in drawings which are 2 dimensions, as we would
thereby be creating a representation of how we perceive them.
- Reader: How were these things viewed in Moses' day? How were
they viewed in Elijah's day? In Daniel's day? Mesora:
There is no difference in the definition of idolatry from
one generation to the next. Idolatry, as all Torah definitions, are
non changing, as their ideas are fixed and accurate. That which is
true is eternally true, and the truth that idolatry is false is 100%
- Reader: Is the pledge of allegiance or an oath to uphold the
constitution of the U.S. and such other things, a form of idolatry?
- Mesora: No.
- Reader: Where do idolatry and idols exist today?
- Mesora: Statues of Buddha, Jesus
and the like, red bendels, rabbits feet, lucky charms, palm readers,
kabbalists who instruct others to perform acts outside of Torah, the
list is endless, unfortunately.
- Reader: Are these things only a matter of the heart
(intentions), or are they manifestations of real images?
Mesora: One clearly violates
idolatry even with his mind if he feels for example that God is
physical. No action is needed for one to lose the next world. This is
why it is so critical for all of us to know Maimonides'
See also: Idolatry