We have been cultivated from childhood to understand idolatry as a “cardinal sin” for the Abrahamic faith community. But what is “Avodah Zarah” exactly, as it is called in Hebrew and what is at the core of its offense? And, what marks off real idol worship from other forms of deviant behavior? Finally, we shall examine the ways that Avodah Zarah infiltrates modern daily life and poses challenges to our wellness. Our study will draw from the Hebrew Bible, Midrash, Talmud, Medieval Jewish Literature and contemporary works. All texts will be studied in English translation, and ample time will be reserved for discussion and reflection.
What is Avodah Zarah?
Towards a working definition
Survey of Classical Sources
Impact of Avodah Zarah on Sacred Boundaries
Partnerships with those of non-Jewish Ancestry
Avodah Zarah vs. Other Deviant Behaviors
Avodah Zarah Revisited in Contemporary Life
Challenges to wellness
Reflections and Take-Aways