6 Mitzvahs, 7 Weeks
Constant Benefits

 
 
 
 
 
 
Video: "Spiritual Shopping" Charlie Harary on The Six Constant Mitzvos

Spiritual Shopping

The second principle of G-d awareness is to refrain from idol worship. That seems easy. Last I checked, I don’t have too many idols lying around.

Before we get into what this means, let’s delve a little deeper into relationships.

Pirkei Avos, Ethics of our Fathers, teaches us that there are two types of relationships: those that last and those that don’t. What’s the distinguishing factor? Whether or not the underlying love is conditional. Love that is conditioned on anything, is doomed to failure. Love that lasts a lifetime must be unconditional.

Why is that? Because the oxygen of a relationship is giving. If a party is taking, it doesn’t work. When love is conditional, then the cornerstone of the relationship is based on taking. That’s a fatal flaw.

With that as background, let’s understand idol worship. We assume that idol worship was the practice of a bunch of foolish, incoherent, unsophisticated people with paint on their faces, bowing to statues, doing a weird dance. That’s not us. We’re too sophisticated. We know that wood is not worth worshiping.

But that doesn’t fully capture idol worship. The fact that the practice was widespread for thousands of years and the Torah constantly reminds us to refrain, must give us pause to further understand it.

Idol worship started with a man named Enosh, the grandson of Adam, the first man. Enosh knew G-d created the world. His grandfather, Adam, was created by G-d Himself. He was in awe of nature and saw it as a manifestation of G-d’s power. From Adam, he understood nature’s inner workings and how to manipulate it to get what he desired. And it worked.

At first, idol worshippers recognized G-d. They understood that G-d created a system that through their rituals, they were able to bring success, comfort, and wealth to their lives. But over time, as they were getting what they wanted, they dropped G-d altogether.

Why drop God? Because idol worship is a system designed to get things - to fulfill ones needs- it’s all about ME. As soon as I can get what I want, everyone and everything becomes irrelevant. Once they figured out God’s system, they didn’t need G-d, so they dropped Him.

How does this apply to us?

Why do we have needs? G-d could have created us in any way he wanted. He could have created us in a state of perfection – no desires, no illness, and no needs. We think the point of life is to fulfill our needs. It’s the opposite – we have needs to fulfill our purpose in life. Our needs enable us to grow in ways we wouldn’t otherwise be able to.

When my kids were growing up, I used a tactic to help them start walking. They would crawl, stand up, take a step, fall, pick themselves up, and try again. To motivate them, I held a lollipop right outside their grasp so they focused on the lollipop and forgot the walking. Kids want the lollipops, parents want them to walk.

The key to life is growth. Life isn’t about how much you have, it’s about how much you grow. Those that grow each day have the most fulfilling lives. If we were born perfect, we’d be bored and unhappy.

The difference between a relationship with G-d and idol worship is our focus: Idol worship says the goal of life is the “stuff” – lollipops, comfort, wealth, pleasure – and any system that I can manipulate to get stuff, I will. If I can manipulate nature, great. If I can manipulate God – fine. The focus is ME. I am a taker.

A real relationship with G-d is not contingent on fulfilling our needs. The needs I have are a way to push myself to grow towards something. The ultimate thing I want is a relationship, a connection with God, not an item on my wish list. If I pray for things and don’t get them, and then stop praying – that’s a relationship of taking, not giving. That’s not love, that’s spiritual shopping.

We all want things. But our life goal is not just getting them– it’s to use those needs as ways to perfect ourselves and get close to G-d. We want to walk, not just eat lollipops.

The second principle of awareness, refraining from idol worship, focuses us on becoming a giver and not a taker. When our love for G-d is not contingent on getting anything from G-d it will form the bedrock of a relationship that will last a lifetime.

 
 
 
 

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