Staking Eternity

Tzvi Ilan ben Gita Update: He is breathing on his own and is completely off sedation. He is considered conscious, is completely responsive to pain stimulus and somewhat responsive to commands. He is able to open his eyes and follow things and people across the room. The hope is to move him from the hospital to a rehabilitation clinic where we pray for further progress and good developments.

Deuteronomy Hizkuni: Re’eh

Staking Eternity

There are few things as heinous to the Torah as Idol Worship. We are repeatedly warned away from the worship of strange and foreign gods. The Talmud tells how the sages from more than two millennia ago prayed to God to take away the pervasive and unrelenting desire for this strange worship. God acceded to the demand. The burning desire was removed from humanity. As such we are told we can no longer even imagine the pressure and the passion of that particularly major sin.

I have a theory that we have found many other things we worship and are fanatical about that have taken the place of statues, but that is a topic for another day.

In any case, Rabbi Hizkiyahu ben Manoach (Hizkuni) points out some curious laws relating to idols and specifically to their destruction.

Idols are considered so evil and so corrosive, that the Torah demands they be destroyed completely and one may not gain any benefit whatsoever, whether direct or tangential from the worship or the material of idols.

Man however has the ability to ‘nullify’ the power and the status of an idol. If an idol-worshiper somehow defaces, shows disrespect or in any way demonstrates that the object he formerly worshiped is no longer worthy of such tribute – that act according to Jewish law can remove the status of ‘idol’ from the object.

Hizkuni points out an exception to this rule. Jewish idols.

An idol that is bought, owned, used or somehow attached to a Jew can never be nullified (which is another reason it needs to be destroyed completely). The spiritual energy, the spiritual bond and importance that a Jew gives to an idol has eternal power. Nothing (save destruction) can remove that eternal, spiritual link and the importance and status of the idol.

The sages like to say: “If that is the case for bad, imagine how much more so for good.”

If for the most odious crimes a piece of (bad) eternity is created, then how much more so for doing what’s right. The corollary is that for every good deed, kind word and thoughtful act we create another piece of eternity. It follows that the positive bonds of friendship, of family, of community will last forever.

May it always be so.

Shabbat Shalom,

Bentzi

Dedication

To Pinhas Lustig on the occasion of his Bar-Mitzvah. To his parents, family and the wider Lustig and Geller families on this happy occasion. May our eternal bonds only be positive and joyous.

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