Avodah Zara: 54-55: Talmudic Grappling with other Religions

In Avodah Zara 54, the Mishna relates a question posed by Romans to the elders of Israel.  The Romans asks : If your Gd is so strong and hates idol worship why does not Hashem destroy them.  The elders answer that idolators worship the sun,  the moon  and the stars, and all people need these celestial things to live. Pretty good answer.  A little bit of a dodge answer but pretty good.

The Talmud on page 55 gives a better answer. The Talmud cites a pasuk from Devarim chapter 4:19  warning against worshipping other gds:  And lest you lift your eyes and see the sun, the moon, the stars and be drawn to them and worship them and serve them, which Hashem has APPORTIONED (CHALAK) to them.”   The chalak means that they are given to the nations to worship and use.

The Magid shiur this morning intimated that other cultures are entitled to use the sun, the moon to help pray to the “prime mover. ”  This behavior by a Jew is idol worship and would be idolatry if we behaved in such a fashion. However, it is acceptable to other cultures and nations.

The answer is that as Jews we must be respectful and cognizant that other cultures worship Hashem in different methods and in different modes.   That Torah Judaism is our way of recognizing Hashem, however other cultures have their own road to similar beliefs.

The Shikker dovid would like to use this pasuk and this thought to expound on a personal belief or thought.  All people in the world, Hindu, Moslem, Buddist can serve or recognize Hashem with the same  efficacy and validity as Jews While we might wear tfillin, keep shabbos, eat chulent and wear funny undershirts with strings, their modes and methods can be equally effective, provided they recognize the prime mover of the world and recognize that kindness, caring, loving, charity and responsibility to other humans is the manner in which we promote Hashem’s direction to all.

Whether y0u wear tfilin on your head, a dot on your forehead, or a turban on your hair.  All roads can lead to Hashem.  Each nation has it own “Chalak” or apportionment to serve Hashem.

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