Dedicated bizchus Mordechai Yehoshua ben Menucha Rochel, for Siyata Dishmaya and a Yeshuah.
In the first segment of this week’s Torah portion, Moshe reassures the Jewish People that G-d will deliver the Canaanite nations into their hand upon their conquest of the land rightfully theirs as the descendants of Avraham, Yitzchak and Yaakov. He further admonishes them:
פְּסִילֵ֥י אֱ-לֹֽהֵי-הֶ֖ם תִּשְׂרְפ֣וּן בָּאֵ֑שׁ לֹֽא־תַחְמֹד֩ כֶּ֨סֶף וְזָהָ֤ב עֲלֵיהֶם֙ וְלָֽקַחְתָּ֣ לָ֔ךְ פֶּ֚ן תִּוָּקֵ֣שׁ בּ֔וֹ כִּ֧י תֽוֹעֲבַ֛ת יְ-הֹוָ֥ה אֱ-לֹהֶ֖יךָ הֽוּא: וְלֹֽא־תָבִ֤יא תֽוֹעֵבָה֙ אֶל־בֵּיתֶ֔ךָ וְהָיִ֥יתָ חֵ֖רֶם כָּמֹ֑הוּ שַׁקֵּ֧ץ | תְּשַׁקְּצֶ֛נּוּ וְתַעֵ֥ב | תְּתַֽעֲבֶ֖נּוּ כִּי־חֵ֥רֶם הֽוּא:
P’siley eloheihem tis’refun ba’aish lo-sachmod kessef v’zahav aleihem v’lakachta lach pen tivakeish bo ki to’avas Hashem Elokecha hu. V’lo-savi to’eivah el-baysecha v’hayisa cheirem kamohu shakeitz t’shaktzenu v’ta’eiv t’sa’avenu ki-cheirem hu.
The graven images of their gods you will burn with fire; you shall not covet the silver or gold that is upon them and take it for yourself, lest you be ensnared by it, for it is an abomination to the Lord, your G-d. Nor should you bring an abomination into your house, lest you are to be destroyed like it, but you shall utterly detest it, and you shall utterly abhor it; for it is to be destroyed.
We see from here how strict the Torah is regarding what we objects and influences we permit entry into our homes. Any commodity whose past use was for the service or even enhancement of idolatry was strictly off-limits to the Jewish People. When our homes are mini-sanctuaries in their own right, we strive to maintain their holiness; and so, we are wary of what may infiltrate that pure atmosphere where G-d Presence can rest in delight.
How often are we at fault for allowing just ‘a little something’ sneak in – something that seems so minimal and harmless? An overwhelming percentage of secular pop culture, media, styles and ‘societal norms’ of the modern world are rampant with tainted implications. Too often they imbue us with negative self-images, prompt us to destructive habits, and simply lead us off a clear and straight path. Our palpable connection with G-d is consequently diminished, and we are distracted from what is truly essential in this life. Though we don’t often today observe ardent worshippers of stone and wood figures… idolatry still exists, in various guises and lures. Every time we say “yes” to one of these questionable things, we diminish another metaphorical brick from our spiritual barricade.
However, this situation needn’t meet with such a bleak end. We aren’t suggesting that one must separate themselves totally from the world around them. We are encouraged to get actively involved, spreading recognition of G-d wherever we go, among whomever we may be. We also bring the powerful truth of Torah to light when we elevate the gifts of this life and world in our service of Hashem. We need to just ensure that the bounty we are utilizing is coming from a respectable source, and confirm that our motives are pure when we enjoy it. And when it does happen that something indecent or harmful does trickle in… is it not our duty to eradicate any last vestige of it? If our body is G-d forbid ailing, what wouldn’t we do to obtain a sustainable cure? When our loved one is ch”v in danger, to what lengths won’t we go to save them? Should we not respond in a similar tireless manner when our relationship with G-d and the soul of our home is facing a foreign threat antithetical to its devotion and values? We passionately ‘burn’ it away; even if it projects itself to be silver and gold on the outside, we are cognizant of what it is essentially, and its exorbitant price.
We’re not slaves to the countless external voices and influences which attempt to inundate and sway us… rather, we are masters of discerning what we allow entry. We are guardians of the Mikdash.
—The Messenger Bird