Parsha Mitzvot: Re’ei: Mitzvah 436 – Concept 53
“You shall utterly destroy all the places where the nations that you shall possess worshipped their gods: on the high mountains and on the hills, and under every leafy tree. You shall break apart their altars; you shall smash their pillars; and their sacred trees shall you burn in the fire; their carved images shall you cut down; and you shall obliterate their names from that place.” (Deuteronomy 12:1-3) We are commanded to destroy idols and their accessories. (Rambam, Hilchot Avodat Kochavim – The Laws of Idolatry and Paganism)
A moral/ethical approach to our verse sees in it a promise that even the unseen, mystical power of the idolatrous images, will be totally destroyed when the Children of Israel make every effort to destroy every visible evidence of idolatry in the Land of Israel. “All the places where the nations that you shall possess worshipped their gods,” is a reference to the throne of Satan. Israel’s effort will be crowned by success and God will become enthroned as the sole ruler over the entire globe. (Or Hachaim HaKadosh)
Points to Consider: A few weeks before 9-11, the Taliban destroyed one of the oldest and most famous statues of Buddha because they considered it idol worship. The State of Israel protects archeological evidence of idol-worship in the name of preserving history.
This Mitzvah/Concept reminds us how far we must go to battle evil. Is there a way that we can battle evil on a more practical level?