Living in Divine Space

Living in Divine Space: Not Believing that there are Other Gods

Below is the commandment:

You shall have no other gods before Me

(Exodus 20:3).

This, the second of the Ten Commandments, is obviously the converse of the previous one, and means that one must not actively place his trust in "other gods," i.e., worldly causation, whether based on natural or supernatural powers (the latter including natural spiritual forces, such as are manifest in witchcraft, spirits, superstition, pantheism, etc.). Beyond this, it implies not even imagining that such powers have any substantial reality. True, G-d has created nature with its inherent cause-and-effect dynamics, but these are ultimately controlled by Him, and one must therefore neither look to them for what he wants, nor sense gratitude toward them for what he has. By constantly eliminating such mixed-loyalty, the Jew becomes whole and complete in his sincere and single commitment (temimut) to G-d.

This mitzvah is placed below, firstly since the natural forces are represented by the "earthly," and secondly–continuing the imagery of the previous mitzvah–because as soon as (and to the extent that) one disconnects from the "rope" of belief in G-d, he starts to "fall" into the quicksand of reliance on natural forces.

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