Contributed by: R. Ezra Mizrahi
We read in this week's parasha, Eqeb, how we must respond to the objects used in Avodah Zara, or idol worshipping:
"The images of their gods you are to burn in the fire. Do not covet the silver and gold on them, and do not take it for yourselves, or you will be ensnared by it, for it is detestable to Hashem your God. Do not bring a detestable thing into your house or you, like it, will be set apart for destruction. Utterly abhor and detest it, for it is set apart for destruction." (Devarim 7:25,26)
What is the fear of having these articles in the home, if one vows not to worship them?
The Seforno answers that if one has the silver and gold of Avodah Zara in the home, and begins to succeed in his business and endeavors, he will naturally begin to attribute that success to these articles of Avodah Zara.
In our time and day, after the Men of the Great Assembly prayed and abolished our desire to worship Avodah Zara, we are not really faced with this problem that the Seforno speaks of. I don’t know about you, but I would not readily attribute a successful day to my son's stuffed animal, and begin a cult organized daily prayers to the Elmo doll.
So what can we take now from this lesson we see in this week's parasha?
The Torah is teaching us to not put an obstacle in our home which may cause us or our families to stumble. We must be careful about what we say, not ever stating that we have a "lucky pen" or "lucky suit", that we need to take to that all-important meeting. If you listen carefully to what people say and how they say it, you can pick up subtle examples of this toledah (sub category) of Avodah Zara.
Psychologists will tell you that there is no slip of the tongue, and a person believes (on some level) everything that they say. We must be weary of this and watch what we are saying, for Hashem is always listening and always taking an account of our level of Emounah (faith).
As we see at the end of this week's parasha:
"For Hashem your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great God, mighty and awesome, who shows no partiality and accepts no bribes. He defends the cause of the fatherless and the widow, and loves the alien, giving him food and clothing. And you are to love those who are aliens, for you yourselves were aliens in Egypt." (Devarim 10: 17-19)
For our Rabbis ask, how can we even see a vague connection between Hashem and the giving of bribes? How can one even fathom that Hashem would have use for a bribe?
Rather the pesouqim tell us that Hashem is all-knowing and always checking our hearts, for He does not take "bribes"- He does not accept someone who gives a lot of money to a charitable organization due to feelings of guilt for his actions, without the person's doing teshouba. The verses are therefore explained slightly different: Hashem does not take bribes, even those of a person who is defending the cause of a widow etc. for he knows why we do what we do.