Thursday, May 5, 2011

Avodah Zarah

Avodah Zarah means "strange work" or "strange worship", and is usually used to mean idol worship which is expressly forbidden by Jewish law. Avodah zarah is worship of the messenger instead of the God who sends the message.

God exists. In the space between us and God, there are lots of intermediaries: angels and demons, souls and spirits.  Angels help to connect us to God. Demons try to disrupt that connection. Their are souls of tzaddikim and of our ancestors who can guide us. Who we meet in the spirit realm is largely up to us. If we do the work on ourselves, then our good deeds create angels. If we don't, we will face our own failings and fears.

There are objects in the world that have spiritual power. Tefillin are a good example. They radiate their own power and amplify our own spiritual power. They are good lenses for the transmission of God into the world.

Avodah Zarah is forgetting that God exists behind and through all of the intermediaries and worshiping the intermediaries as gods. Avodah Zarah is worshiping the messenger.

Photo courtesy of Voyageur Solitaire-mladjenovic_n