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Avodah Zarah is the prohibition against idolatry. It applies to all Jews and to all Noahides. This important prohibition includes all forms of idolatry, including placing anything before ones service and devotion to HaShem. This includes worshiping images (like idols) or people as gods (as incarnations, avatars, etc.), and much more. This prohibition has far reaching implications. Anything or anyone a Noahide or a Jew places before our service to HaShem should be considered idolatry and avoided as avodah zarah.
All Torah prohibitions have an opposite, positive, commandment. Since avodah zarah is specifically forbidden, we understand that worshiping the One True God alone is commanded. By seeking HaShem, by purifying our hearts and intentions, we draw ever closer to Him.
Many people who come to embrace the Noahide Way come out of the Christian religion. It is important for these people to understand that the Christian views of Yeshua/Jesus are avodah zara for Jews and Noahides. HaShem does not manifest in physical forms. Believing that Yeshua, or anyone else, is an incarnation of the One True G-d, part of a trinity, etc. is forbidden to us as avodah zarah. Believing that any being other than HaShem grants forgiveness of sins, salvation, or redemption is avodah zarah for Jews and Noahides. Accepting any created being as the required mediator between humanity and HaShem is avodah zarah. If you are looking to Yeshua/Jesus, Muhammad, the Buddha, or any other religious leader, living or dead, for your enlightenment/salvation, and you are Jewish or consider yourself a Noahide, you are practicing avodah zarah, something forbidden to both Jews and Noahides. One can not practice any other religion and be accepted as a Noahide.
It should be acknowledged here that there are branches of Judaism, especially among the Chassidim, that believe their Rebbe is the Messiah, the only way to G-d, and so on. This too is avodah zarah. While it is possible that ones departed Rebbe might return in a future lifetime, until he does and meets the Messianic requirements, he is not to be accepted as the Messiah. Thus far no one has met the Messianic requirements.
The Way of G-d is to avoid extremes, and to embrace the clear and straight path of Torah. "[The way of G-d] is in your mouth and in your heart, so that you can fulfill it... This day, I call upon the heaven and the earth as witnesses [that I have warned] you: I have set before you life and death, the blessing and the curse. You shall choose life, so that you and your offspring will live." (Devarim - Deuteronomy - 30:11, 12, 19). Likewise, in Likutey Moharan II, 44, Rebbe Nachman of Breslov cautions us not to be overly stringent in any observance. The Rebbe quotes the Talmudic maxims, “God does not rule over His creatures with tyranny” (Avodah Zarah 3a), and, “The Torah was not given to the ministering angels” 1
The same applies to each of the Seven Laws. Choose life and avoid avodah zarah, but do not become engrossed in needless stringencies due to pointless concerns or false pieties. Joy is the world of freedom - "for you shall go out with joy " (Isaiah 55:12). Through joy we become free and leave our exile. When a person maintains a happy, joyous attitude, his mind and thoughts become free and he is no longer in exile. He can then direct his thoughts as he wants and settle his mind so as to focus on his goal and draw close to God. 2
Some people condemn those who follow other religious paths in the most offensive of terms. They rebuke them as idolators, they ridicule their 'lack of knowledge' and defame them whenever the occasion arises. This is not Derech Noahide! HaShem alone judges His creation and He expertly mixes justice with compassion for our true and lasting good. The law of Avodah Zarah neither commands nor excuses rude behavior. Rather, the people of G-d should whisper private thanks to HaShem for leading them along their path to Him, and for His ceaseless mercy. As the saying goes, "there except for the grace of HaShem go I."
Lashon hara (literally evil talk) is defined as information which is either derogatory or potentially harmful to another individual. A derogatory statement about someone is lashon hara, even if will definitively not cause that person any harm. To focus on the shortcomings of another person is itself wrong and should be avoided, even as we avoid avodah zarah... It should be noted that the term lashon hara refers even to true statements which are derogatory or harmful. Negative statements that are untrue or inaccurate are termed hotzaas shem ra [i.e. slander] and also forbidden. 3
Go to: Birchat HaShem
- : Rebbe Nachman’s Wisdom: Pesach and Unnecessary Stringencies (Berakhot 25b; see “His Wisdom” #30).
- Rebbe Nachman of Breslov, Likutey Moharan II, 10
- Sefer Chofetz Chaim page 50. Lashon Hara, By Shlomo Phillips.
Go to: The Holy Hill Noahide Community Home Page.
Go to: The Seven Noahide Laws As Religion.
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