25-5768: Mitzvah N-27

Talmidav Shel Aharon
25-5768: Mitzvah N-27
May 5, 2008

Negative Mitzvah 27 – This is a negative commandment: Do not prophesize in the name of an idol. Hafetz Hayim: For Scripture says, “and make no mention of the name of other gods” (Ex. 23:13). His death (if one does prophesy so) is by strangulation, even if he spoke in the name of an idol and was in accord with Halacha (definitive law), to declare the defiled unclean and the pure clean. It is in force everywhere and at all times for both men and women.
We can understand the prohibition against idolatry when it is commanding us to do something that is forbidden by Jewish law. But here, the real issue is when an idol commands us to do exactly what G-d would have us do. This sounds like a rather innocuous idol. What could be the harm in it? Does it really matter if we say we worship G-d or an idol as long as, in the end, we have the same moral laws and the same religious activities? If the result is the same, who cares how we get there?
I almost sounds like someone in a cult declaring that there is no difference between what they promote and what we already have. It is only slowly, over time that differences become apparent and we are encouraged to slowly “evolve” our understanding of Judaism to fit with the “new” or “ancient” “improvements” that the new religion entails. After all, this is how Christianity separated itself from Judaism, by slowly, over time, changing the rules for those who professed to be followers of Jesus. It is a time-honored way of enticing people away from the faith of their ancestors.
It is all the more effective if there is a “Jew” who is doing the enticing (and we can see why an group like Jews for Jesus uses “rabbis” in their churches) it makes it all the more comfortable when one begins and the changes can be slow and small until a whole new religion is being practiced.
Again, I want to state that Judaism does not see Christianity and Islam as pagan religions and they would not fall under this ban if someone were to teach a class, for example in Islamic theology. Those who don’t like what other Jews are teaching as differences in Jewish law have also abused it. One does not incur the death penalty for not holding a “glatt” standard when it comes to Kashrut.
Jews have been enticed for thousands of years to come and join other faiths that were “almost” the same as what we already practice. Our response has always been the same, “You can worship how and whom you please but for me and my family, we will follow the Lord our G-d and the G-d of our ancestors”.

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