For Food for Thought in Spanish: Haga clic aquí para leer en español. Please share this with your Jewish Spanish speaking family, friends, and associates.
It’s very important to note that this week is Parshas Zachor and there is a Torah level obligation fulfilled when listening to the maftir aliyah. There is also a special haftorah. However, there is a very important message in this dvar Torah taken from the haftorah that would have been normally read for this week’s Torah portion of Vayikra.
Towards the beginning of Nishmas, which is said at the end of pesukei dizimra on Shabbos and yom tov, it states, “From this world to the World to Come You are G-D and other than You we have no king, redeemer, or savior.” This statement is based on a pasuk in the haftorah taken from Yeshayahu (44:6), “So said Hashem, King of Israel and its Redeemer, Hashem Master of Legions: I am the first and I am the last, and aside from Me there is no G-D.”
The Radak on this pasuk points out that when it says, “So said Hashem, King of Israel and its Redeemer,” it means that when we will be redeemed, He will be the Jewish King by himself. We won’t be under the control of any non-Jewish nation. He is the Master of Legions, down below and on high, and everything is within His ability, and it is within His ability to take us out of exile. Hashem is saying, ‘I am the first and I created everything, and I am the last. Everything has an end, but I am everlasting, and there is no other all-powerful force. This comes to nullify any belief in serving the sun or the moon and stars, they are only powerful upon My command. With my permission they rule over what they rule over.’ (Click here for Hebrew text.)
This pasuk seems to be one of the ultimate, all-encompassing verses about our belief in Hashem within Tanach. The simple message being that Hashem was before time and existence and will be after everything is said and done. He created everything and is in constant control of what has happened, is happening, and will happen, speedily in our days. The Radak seems to emphasize that there is a purpose to understanding the science and the greatness and power of the universe and world around us, in order for us to better appreciate the All-powerful Hashem who created all of it and is constantly keeping it and us in existence.
However, 1,042 years after the creation of the world, in the generation of Enosh, as alluded to in Shabbos 118b, people started to worship idols. Why? The Radak says in Breishis 4:26 that “he saw in the words of Chaza”l, and this is the view of most people, that in the days of Enosh people mistakenly went after idolatry.” This means that at that time people referred to stars and constellations in the name of Hashem, meaning they would worship and pray to them. For they thought they were the intermediaries between G-D and the rest of His creation and because of their greatness and awesomeness it was befitting to worship them. They believed that they gave success to whoever worshiped them, for they were the leaders of the lower world. (Click here for Hebrew text.)
We see from the mistake of the generation of Enosh that focusing on the greatness and awesomeness of nature can result in idolatry; so how can the Radak say that doing the same thing will result in a better appreciation of Hashem? Shouldn’t there be a concern of making a mistake and going astray just as the generation of Enosh did? They also believed in Hashem! They just thought that Hashem was in a different domain and that the things in charge down here were the stars and astrology.
However, it would seem from the Radak in Yeshayahu that a person must have a solid foundation in the basic belief that Hashem is where everything starts and ends and without Him constantly maintaining our existence we will cease to exist. We just have a mitzvah to fortify that foundation and build a fortress of belief in Hashem by appreciating as much as possible the greatness and all-powerful awesomeness of Hashem, which can be done by looking into his creation through science, astronomy, astrology, and the like, to see that if the nature of this world is so great and detailed, then how much more greater the One who created it, and is constantly maintaining it, must be.
The generation of Enosh had a weak foundation, so they began to worship other things when they analyzed them all and realized the incredible G-D given powers everything in creation had. But they didn’t focus on the G-D given part. Today it is worse, the foundation doesn’t even exist amongst atheists, and therefore they look into the science and create a whole world which doesn’t even exist, based on speculations and hypotheses because they have no foundation in believing the existence of Hashem.