Dear Readers,

How is it that people ever worshipped idols? Were humans so backward that they believed that wood or stone, or constellations like the sun or stars have Divine powers?

The Ten Commandments forbid us from having idols. “You shall have no other gods (elohim) before Me.”1 Through its wording, the Torah seems to acknowledge the existence of “other powers/gods,” but prohibits us worshipping, or attributing influence to them. What are these “other gods”?

In Mishneh Torah, Maimonides explains that in its origins, polytheism was not devised in opposition to monotheism, but as a flawed attempt to better serve the one G‑d. Early man believed that by bestowing honor to the various forces of nature that G‑d had set in place, man was showing honor to his Maker. Over the course of time, this devolved into outright deification of these forces, giving them independent power.

The midrash teaches: “There is no blade of grass below that does not have a mazal above that strikes it and says to it, ‘Grow!’ ”2

The astrologic constellations, ministering angels or forces of nature represent channels that transmit creative energy to our physical universe. So what is wrong with attributing power to these forces? The error is in believing that G‑d is “too lofty and remote” to supervise our world, and that He relinquished management to these channels.

In truth, these forces have no power of their own and are utterly dependent upon G‑d, “like an axe in the hands of the woodchopper.” Although the craftsman’s creative capacity may be channeled through the tool, the tool itself is due no credit at all.

But don’t many of us have “idols” that we worship nowadays? Even if we believe in an All-Powerful Creator, we mistakenly think that He doesn’t involve Himself in the intricacies of our world—but left that to the natural laws. We are convinced that G‑d, in some spiritual place, is too far away to have any personal relationship with “little me.”

What are some of the idols we worship today? Power, success, money, social status, politics, enough “Likes” on social media—there are so many things that we trust have authority over our life. So, we strive to get on the good side of Mr. Important because only he can make my career take off. Only Dr. Renown Surgeon has the power to cure my illness, and only Mr. Rich Investor can transform my financial profile. My salvation is in the hands of Mr. Savvy Lawyer; only he has the clout to get me off the hook.

Consequently, we fear/worship the people or circumstances that have the ability to make us or ruin us, with their words, actions, or connections. We hold the limiting belief that circumstances in our lives actually define who we are or who we can become.

But hashgacha pratitmeansthat G‑d supervises in detail everything that transpires at every moment. G‑d, who is intimately involved in our world, can hear our pleas and see our needs, and only G‑d can determine our future. G‑d may use any of one of His many channels, but they are merely tools, without any independent power, just as the axe is in the hands of the woodchopper.

So, what would your life look like if you fostered a mindset without this fear? A worldview that acknowledges that no person, event or thing has any power over you. A belief that G‑d who loves you and has a deep relationship with you is designing your life exactly how it is meant to be. And that you have the ability to tap into your infinite connection with this Supreme Being at any and every moment.

What would your life be like if you stopped worshipping idols?

Chana Weisberg,

Editor, TJW

Based on the Maamar, Lehavin Inyan Rosh Chodesh.