אַל־תִּפְנוּ֙ אֶל־הָ֣אֱלִילִ֔ם וֵֽאלֹהֵי֙ מַסֵּכָ֔ה לֹ֥א תַעֲשׂ֖וּ לָכֶ֑ם אֲנִ֖י יְהֹוָ֥ה אֱלֹהֵיכֶֽם׃
You have been taught that you must not worship idols. In addition, you must not even turn your thoughts toward worshipping idols, contemplating how you might worship them—even though you know that they are worthless and their worship pointless—in order that you not eventually come to believe in them and thus make them into molten deities for yourselves. You may not make idols for others, even if you do not worship them; nor, as you have been taught, may you possess idols made by others, even if you did not make them yourselves. I am G-d, your G-d, who may be relied upon to reward you for fulfilling this commandment and to punish you for transgressing it.
One of the 7 Noahidic Commandments is the prohibition of idolatry. The Hebrew word for idolatry is avodah zarah. Literally, it means “strange worship”.
We can first read the prohibition of idolatry in Genesis 2:16:
וַיְצַו֙ יְהֹוָ֣ה אֱלֹהִ֔ים עַל־הָֽאָדָ֖ם לֵאמֹ֑ר מִכֹּ֥ל עֵֽץ־הַגָּ֖ן אָכֹ֥ל תֹּאכֵֽל׃
And Hashem E’lokim commanded the Human, saying, “Of every tree of the garden you are free to eat;
Chizkuni points out that in this verse the word “E’lokim” is used in relation to Exodus 20:3 “you must not have other deities.” It is Hashem – and nothing or no one else to whom we listen and obey.
Hashem tells Adam in this verse what He wants Adam to do. Similarly, Hashem tells us through His Torah, through the Seven Noahide Laws, what He wants us to do.
What can we learn from this?
The question sometimes arises whether it is wrong to delve into religions of the world. The reasoning is: if I know how they believe, then I can also better convince them they are wrong. The text from Leviticus teaches how dangerous this is to do. Perhaps there are elements that attract you anyway, that you find interesting. It could lead to you being tempted to adopt wrong elements or thoughts.
The Torah not only teaches us how Hashem wishes to be served, it also teaches us how Hashem does not wish to be served. That is important to study though.
In short: you should not want to study religious elements of others in order to be able to show that they are incorrect, but you should increase your own faith and knowledge which will automatically allow you to demonstrate from Tenach that their ways of thinking are incorrect.
If you focus on, for example, the “Shema Israel, A’donai, A’donai Echad”- Hear Israel, the L-rd our G-d is One. Ponder, learn about what it means that Hashem is One. Then you will have no trouble correcting religions that have a plural image of god.
Following on from the first question is the second question that is frequently asked. Can I keep my christian bible for study material or to show to my peers the texts that contain errors.
It is important to completely renounce other religious books first. Research and learn what Hashem wants from the Tenach, don’t use a christian bible for study material.
What you can use as evidence that the Christian Bible contains errors are Rabbi Tovia Singer’s books “Lets Get Biblical” books. There is no need to keep a Christian Bible yourself, the others will surely have one.
Besides, there are plenty of sources available online today, if someone feels that it is necessary to use source material then better. Having the physical book in the house is no longer necessary.
So best is to destroy idolatrous books.
For that, see also the blog: Deutronomy 7:5 – Should we destroy idols, and what about idolatrous books?
By Angelique Sijbolts
Sources: The Kehot Chumash – Parshah Kedoshim,
With thanks to Dr. Michael Schulman for the feedback
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