Ekev 2018

 The formula for success for the people is unambiguous. In return for observing and performing all the commandments of the Torah, the covenant and the kindness that God swore to bestow upon the forefathers, will be conferred upon the present and future generations.

Not only will the people achieve material success, God will also bless the fruit of their wombs and the fruit of the land. By following this formula, Israel will be the most blessed of all people. God will remove all illness from His people, and devour all their enemies. If the people only abide by the directives of the Torah, God promises to deliver the enemy kings into Israel’s hands. No man will be able to stand up against God’s people.

For added security, Moses reminds the people to burn all the carved images of the Canaanite gods. The Israelites are forbidden to covet or to take for themselves the silver and gold that adorns the idols, lest they be ensnared by it. It is an abomination of the Lord your God (Deuteronomy 7:24-25).

In Deuteronomy 7:26, Moses continues his admonition by boldly demanding in God’s name, וְלֹא תָבִיא תוֹעֵבָה אֶל בֵּיתֶךָ וְהָיִיתָ חֵרֶם כָּמֹהוּ, שַׁקֵּץ תְּשַׁקְּצֶנּוּ וְתַעֵב תְּתַעֲבֶנּוּ, כִּי חֵרֶם הוּא, And you shall not bring an idolatrous abomination into your home, lest you become cursed like them; you shall surely loathe them and you shall surely abominate them, for it is a cursed thing.

The commentators explain, that only the idols themselves are forbidden, but not the ornaments. However the Torah admonishes that any benefits from the idols whatsoever, are strictly forbidden.

The Sefer Ha’Chinuch explains that because of greed, Jews would not easily part with the silver, gold and jewels that adorn the idols. The warning must be reiterated because the people would not otherwise have the spiritual strength to cast the precious jewels aside and would eventually be ensnared in the practice of idolatry itself.

Maimonides explains that a person who takes an idol home may suddenly experience good fortune, and attribute the success to the idol. That coincidence may very well lead to idolatry and idol-worship.

While the biblical verse may be referring to ancient idols of Ba’al Pe’or and Ba’al Zevuv, the same ancient text resounds loudly and clearly today. It is not that much of a stretch to say that the ancient abominations have their counterparts in contemporary society. Not only do we bring abominations into our homes regularly by subscribing to cable TV and the internet, we even invite the providers to drop off their garbage in our home, for which we reward them quite handsomely. Shabbat Shalom