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Mishpatim: Ohr HaChaim HaKodesh: Mitzvah 94 – Concept 58

“They shall not dwell in your land lest they cause you to sin against Me, that you will worship their gods, for it will be a trap for you.” (Exodus 23:33) We may not allow idolaters to dwell in our land. (Rambam, Hilchot Avodah Zarah – The Laws of Idolatry and Paganism)

The Torah reveals here that imperfection by the Jewish people impacts on the Creator. The logic is as follows: Seeing that the Israelites represent a certain amount of sanctity, they diminish that level of sanctity if they worship idols. Diminishing the amount of sanctity weakens the Israelites’ ties with their holy roots; it impacts on the root of sanctity, God, Himself. (Ohr Hachaim Hakdosh)

My father zt”l constantly reminded me to beware of negative influences that weakened my spiritual development. In 1977, he made a deal with me before allowing me a cross-country drive: “You can listen to any music you want on the way to California.  Keep a diary of your thoughts as they wandered on the long drives. Listen to Torah tapes on your way home, and keep the same diary. When you return home, we will compare the two trips. I was too embarrased to let him read the diary of my thoughts on the way to California. “That only proves my point!”

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