WHAT IS IDOLATRY?

 

Idolatry is the worship of anything other than the One True God of Israel. Just as God's existence is an essential axiom of the Torah that He is one is just as essential. Although God's existence is not really treated in the Torah (because it is assumed), that He is One is. His unity is treated in the Torah mainly because it is so often either misunderstood or perverted by human beings (Laws of the Service of the Cohens and the Customs of the Nations 1:1).

The message of the Torah couldn't be any clearer. There is one God. According to the Rambam:

"For it is the principal object of the Law and the axis round which it turns, to blot out these opinions from man's heart and make the existence of idolatry impossible."
--The Guide for the Perplexed

God is the God of all mankind. We should all strive to know that God is one and totally unique, and remove any notions of internal or external plurality. The Rambam says,
"the actual abolition of idolatry is expressed in the following passage: 'Ye shall destroy their altars, and burn their groves in fire' (Deut. vii. 5), 'and ye shall destroy their name,' etc. (xii. 3). These two things are frequently repeated; they form the principal and first object of the whole Law, as our Sages distinctly told us in their traditional explanation of the words 'all that God commanded you by the hand of Moses' (Num. xv. 23); for they say, 'Hence we learn that those who follow idolatry deny as it were their adhesion to the whole Law, and those who reject idolatry follow as it were the whole Law.' (B.T. Kidd, 40a) Note it."
--The Guide for the Perplexed, 320
Essentially the Hebrew Scriptures teach us that God is one, and nothing else is to be worshiped, even as an intermediary between us and the One God.

God's unity is understood in three parts. First God is alone. Second, God is not physical. Finally, God has a unique identity. Each of these parts must be examined separately.

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