Monday, August 11, 2008

Gods of Wood and Stone

In this week's parshah, we have a nevuah from Moshe Rabbeinu that Am Yisrael will end up being exiled from Eretz Yisrael.

I will provide a translation for a verse here in to English, and then a translation of Targum Onkelos in to English.

Devarim 4:28


And there you will serve gods, the works of man, wood and stone, which cannot see and cannot hear, and don't eat and don't smell.


And there you will serve idol worshipping nations, the works of man, wood and stone, that cannot see and cannot hear, and don't eat and don't smell

The Targum basically tells us that in the lands of exile we will not actually become idol worshippers, G-d forbid. But rather, our exile will lead us to serve nations that do serve gods of wood and stone. And this very fact is likened by Moshe to Am Yisrael themselves becoming idol worshippers.

Parshat Ki Tavo also uses this expression, describing Am Yisrael being in Galus.

Devarim 28:64

And Hashem will disperse you amongst all the nations, from one end of the earth to the other end of the earth, and you will serve there other gods, that you did not know, and your fathers, wood and stone.

Chazal relate the curses of Devarim 28 to Galus Edom, the time when Am Yisrael has been under the rule of Esav and Yishmael. Neither of these kingdoms serve gods of wood or stone.

But alas, the two religions do turn their prayers toward wood and stone.

Christianity has the wooden cross.

Islam has the Ka'aba, the stone which lies in Mecca.

Even if not the object of worship, these items are focusing points of their prayer service.

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