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Exodus 34:11 – I worship an idol?

16 Adar 5783 – 9 Maart 2023

Exodus 34:11

שְׁמׇ֨ר־לְךָ֔ אֵ֛ת אֲשֶׁ֥ר אָנֹכִ֖י מְצַוְּךָ֣ הַיּ֑וֹם הִנְנִ֧י גֹרֵ֣שׁ מִפָּנֶ֗יךָ אֶת־הָאֱמֹרִי֙ וְהַֽכְּנַעֲנִ֔י וְהַחִתִּי֙ וְהַפְּרִזִּ֔י וְהַחִוִּ֖י וְהַיְבוּסִֽי׃

Mark well what I command you this day. I will drive out before you the Amorites, the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites.

It was a command, a mitzvah, to the Jewish people to do and destroy the seven nations, of Canaan. The main reason was that they were idol worshippers and were originally the source of idolatry..

From this we learn that we must destroy in ourselves every source of idolatry. Now you will say but Jews and Noahs believe in HaShem, as the Eternal Only One, we do not believe in idols. But you can draw this beyond worshipping physical idols or conceptions. The sages teach:

“One who gets angry is like one who worships idols.”

When we are angry about an action or event, we temporarily deny Divine Providence, which is the very thing that allows that action to take place. Besides denying this Divine Providence, it can even make us place our own point of view, viewpoint above this Divine Providence. Finding that we have been wronged and that we actually know better ourselves how to handle the situation – in our anger. This makes us place ourselves “above” G-d and, in the process, make ourselves an idol.

The source of idolatry, these peoples of Canaan, symbolise the misuse of our emotional attributes. We must exorcise this misuse and we must learn to use these emotional traits properly, namely:

  • Chesed (kindness) – A soul whose service to G-d is characterised by a calm and flowing love. This soul also overflows with love for his fellow human beings.
  • Gevurah (Severity) – A soul who serves G-d with awe and a flaming passion. This soul is also highly disciplined, with high expectations of himself and others.
  • Tiferet (Harmony) – The soul that has achieved a perfect synthesis of Kindness and Severity. This is achieved through the study of Torah. Tiferet is also the source of the soul’s capacity for compassion.
  • Netzach (Perseverance) – A soul that constantly fights and struggles, but is victorious in the end.
  • Hod (Humility) – The soul that exemplifies self-denial in favour of allowing itself to be overwhelmed by G-d’s goodness.
  • Yesod (Foundation) – The soul whose unique talent is establishing giving relationships, intellectual or otherwise.
  • Malchut – (Royalty) – The soul who serves his Creator majestically.

We always have the free choice, the free will to choose to direct our thoughts, speech and actions how HaShem wants us to. This is not to say that this is always easy. Choosing to do the right thing can sometimes be quite a struggle, especially when you are angry and you really want nothing more than to let the other person know that. But doesn’t that very thing show our love for HaShem? That we put aside our own, not desired, emotions and focus on how He wants us to act?

And then we see in the text, “I will … cast out for you.” It is HaShem who will help us live up to those right choices we make.

Once we choose to do the right thing, and consciously choose to put the right thing forward, to withstand the test of wickedness, then we provide a refinement of Creation.

By Angelique Sijbolts

Sources: Destroying the Seven Canaanite Nations, What Are the Seven Types of Souls?, Seven Pillars of Faith – Rebbe Nachman’s Wisdom #29, Daily Wisdom of the Lubavitcher Rebbe.

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2 thoughts on “Exodus 34:11 – I worship an idol?”

  1. Dank je wel, Angelique, voor deze uiteenzetting. Het is een voortdurende zorg om niet terug te vallen in die afgodendienst. Wat dat dan is, heb je keurig op een rijtje gezet.

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