Rabbi Milevsky's Thought of the Week: Re'Eh - 5779
UPROOTING AVODAH ZARA
In Parshat Re’eh the Torah states that, "When Hashem will destroy the nations where you are going, and force them out of your way, you will take possession of their land and live there. After they have been destroyed, be careful you are not tempted to follow their customs. Do not even ask about their gods and say, ‘How did these people worship their gods? We want to do what they did.’ Never worship Hashem in the way they worship their gods, because everything they do for their gods is disgusting to Hashem. He hates it! They even burn their sons and daughters as sacrifices to their gods.” In general, the desire to learn from others is praiseworthy.
In Pirkei Avot, we are taught by Ben Zoma that a wise person is, "He who learns from everyone.” However, when a despicable culture exists, one that does not appreciate the value of a life, such a civilization has nothing to offer us. We, the members of a nation that has the mission of inspiring the world by showing what the human being can achieve, must reject any attachment to their pagan practices. The French philosopher Emmanuel Levinas pointed out: “Idolatry is fought not on account of its errors, but on account of the moral degeneracy that accompanies it.” That is why in our tradition the Torah Jew must do all to keep distant from all forms of Avodah Zara.