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Path of Abraham

Ah'voda Za'rah

The first and most essential of the Noahide Laws is that no religious devotion or acts of religious devotion be directed toward any created thing  -(summary by webmaster)
Only text in light-blue are from authoritive sources originally compiled specifically to express the absolute obligations upon the nations of the world.  Anything else represents either my own elucidations of the law at hand or related information.  Related information consists of texts not originally written specifically for the nations of the world, but which I am inclined to think are logical necessities for strengthening observance of the Laws of Noah.

One can not fulfill the law which prohibits idolatry if one does not know what idolatry is.  Idolatry a religious act of devotion to anything which is created.  A person, therefore, must know the essential differences between what is created and the Creator.  All created things are subject to or 'contained within' the realm of time and space.  Consequently, anything which changes, has size or shape, dimensions or sides, anything which can be divided or which possesses internal distinctions - are all created.  The Creator is the opposite of all created things.  There is no accurate description of the Creator because no words can express the infinite greatness of His being.  Even to refer to Him as 'being,' does injustice to His transcendent reality.  We are, however, limited to words, words which are limited to the limited perspective of created beings.  As a result, we come to a knowledge of the Creator by understanding what He is not.  We know Him by the wonders He does in creation, and the messages and revelation He has given to His prophets.  Both His wonders and His revelations are created expressions of His existence.  We know that He is the Source of all existence, and is therefore essentially different from all creation.  By observing that things within creation change, we can know that He does not change.  By observing that things within creation can be divided or contained within a given space, we can know that He is without any division and is not contained.  Knowing these facts we realize that the Creator transcends all things - time, space, and everything contained within them.  Indeed, He created time and space.  This is the very reason why He does not have a beginning and does not Himself require a creator, whereas everything else does require the Creator and does have a beginning.  Only whatever comes into being at a certain point in time has a beginning.  Since He created time and does not exist within time, therefore His existence has no beginning, since beginnings only apply to what exist within time.  Whatever has no beginning needs no creator and has no creator.  Therefore the age old question of 'Who created G-d?' or 'If something came before us, what came before G-d?' no longer apply; For 'before and after' apply to what exists within time; And this is one of the essential differences between creation and the Creator.  All creation exist within time/space and are subject to all it's implications: change, shape, division, etc.. but the Creator, blessed is He, is infinitely exalted above all conceptions.  To avoid idolatry, know that the Almighty is the incomparable ONE - for plurality of any type can ONLY exist within time/space.  Yeesh'ta'bahhh shmo! [Praised be His Name].
"We do not accept the words of philosophers who say that the 'Realm of Divinity' is divided into various levels of authority.  We believe there is only one Divine level of authority, only one 'G-d' who controles every corporeal thing.  Whoever is deceived by their philosophic theories is considered heretical [apekores]." - Yeehhud (Singularity of G-d); from Sefer Kuzari

THE FOLLOWING IS THE CODIFICATION OF THE SANHEDRIN’S CLARIFICATION OF THIS PROHIBITION as put forth by RAMBAM in the Mishneh Torah, Sefer Shoftim, Hilkhoth Melakhim u'Milhamotheihem 9:4 [2]:

A ben Noah who does foreign worship,  the Hebrew term for idolatry, is liable for the death penalty, so long as he did a service of idolatry in the generally practiced manner.  A ben Noah is liable for the death penalty for any type of service of idolatry that a court of Israel is to consider worthy of the death penality.  Nevertheless, a ben Noah is NOT liable for the death penalty for doing an idolatrous act that a court of Israel is not to consider worthy of the death penality.  Even so, although in such a case the ben Noah is not to be executed, he is still not allowed to do any kind of these idolatrous acts.

All the peoples of the world are not to be allowed to erect monuments around which people may gather, nor to plant trees associated with idolatry, nor to make forbidden images.
Mishneh Torah, Hilkoth De'oth Chapter 2
2:5 [3] "There are traits which a man is forbidden to accustom himself in, even in moderation.  Rather, he should distance himself from these specific traits to the other extreme, and one such of these traits is the trait of a haughty heart; regarding this trait, not only is it a good path that a man to be humble - but rather, he should even be of lowly spirit, so that his spirit be very very subdued.  For this reason, it is stated about Mosha (Moses) our teacher that he was "very humble" (Numbers 12:3), and not merely 'humble.'  The sages of Israel therefore commanded that a person be of a very lowly spirit.  And they stated further that someone who makes his heart haughty -- that he is essentially a denier of the Creator's existence / authority, as it is stated: "and your heart was lifted up, and you forgot the TRANSCENDENT ONE your Venerable-Authority," (Deuteronomy 8:14)..."
2:6 [3] "And likewise with regard to anger:  it also is a very destructive trait;  and it is proper that a person distance himself from it to the other extreme, and teach himself not to become angry, even at something that is fitting to become angry over.  And if someone wants to impress fear upon his sons or the members of his household,... and he desired to express anger to them inorder that they return to the good path -- he should manifest himself in front of them as though he is angry, for their own edification, but internally his mind should be calm -- like a person who is impersonating an angry individual, although he himself is actually not angry."
2:7 [3] "...Among the first of Israel's sages stated: 'Anyone who becomes angry is as though he served foreign worship (idolatry).'  And they stated that whoever becomes angry, if he is a wise-man (sage) - his wisdom is leaves him; if he is a prophet - his prophecy leaves him.  The life of an irate is not life; therefore, Israel's sages commanded that one should distance himself from anger, until he conducts himself in a manner so as not to sense even those things which anger.  And this is the best path - the path of the righteous:  They are humiliated, but they do not humiliate;  They hear themselves defamed, but they do not retort; they act out of love, and are joyful even in their suffering..."
Tractate Kallah Rabati 2:5 
The Sages say: Anyone who masturbates or goes back on his word - is as though he is oveid avodah zarah (worships idolatry), as it is stated: "Perhaps my father will feel me and I shall be as a deceiver (meta'te'a) in his eyes" (B'reshith 27:12) - and there is no [mention of] "te'a'te'a" but [in relation to] avodah zarah (idolatry), as it is stated: "They are vanity, the work of deception (ta'tu'im)" (Yirmiyahu 10:16, 51:18).
From Talmud Bavli, Avoda Zarah, 54b:
The elders in Rome were asked, "If your 'G-d' takes no pleasure in the worship of idols, why does He not destroy them?"
They replied, "If men had worshipped the things which the world dooes not need, He would certainly have destroyed them, but they worship sun, moon, stars, and planets.  Is He to destroy His world because of fools?"
The questioners replied, "Then He ought at least to destroy the things which the world doesn't need, and leave the others."
The elders said, "Then the worshippers of the stars, sun, and moon would be strengthened in their idolatry, for they would say, 'Behold, those verily are true gods, for they have not been destroyed.'"

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