You shall have no other gods…

You shall have no other gods beside Me.
Deuteronomy 5:7

This week’s long and complex Torah reading includes the Shema and a repetition of the Ten Commandments, including the Second Commandment, “You shall have no other gods beside Me”. The chapter also includes many admonitions against worshipping idols, spirits, angels, pagan deities, spirits of the dead, stars, images of nature, and “false gods.”

In our modern sensibilities, few of us would consider bowing down to a tree or worshipping a pagan deity. However, my clergy colleagues had an online discussion of modern false gods, beginning with this question posed by Cantor Paul Buch: “Are not the true false gods in today’s world money, power and the many other selfish pursuits which deny the interconnectivity of all of creation and the responsibility we have to be the stewards of our environment and each other?”

This is not a simple question to ponder, but it is an important one because it speaks to and of all of us, in some degree. The mitzvah of this week is honestly recognizing our own false gods and beginning the difficult process of confronting and wrestling with our priorities.

May you have a week of blessings and a Shabbat of peace,

Rabbi Debbie Israel