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The 5th Principle of Faith in Judaism…Pray Only to G-d, No Intermediaries (Hence Our Total Rejection of Xtianity)

764735728You should incline your prayers, your thoughts and your actions only to G-d. This is the fifth principle and it warns against idolatry (עבודה זרה / avodah zarah — literally “strange worship”). Do not pray to or through any intermediary.  Do not pray to an angel.  Do not pray through a human (e.g. a deceased relative).   Do not pray to or through anyone or anything but G-d Himself.

It is inappropriate to pray to anyone but G-d Himself.

Worship of any three-part god by a Jew is nothing less than a form of idolatry. (Whether Christianity is idolatry for a non-Jew is debatable).  The Rambam certainly saw it as idolatry, but many others opine that for a non-Jew Christianity is שִׁתּוּף / shituf.  Shituf  is the heretical idea of some sort of co-mingling of something with G-d — the worship or belief of other gods (e.g. Jesus and the holy ghost) in addition to the G-d Himself  In the case of Christianity this is the idea of a G-d in human form being worshiped (Jesus) and even the “holy spirit” being worshiped.

Whether Christianity is שִׁתּוּף / Shituf or עבודה זרה /avodah zarah for a non-Jew, it is definitely עבודה זרה / avodah zarah / idolatry for a Jew — and  forbidden.  Some posit that today’s non-Jewish Christians cannot be considered idol-worshipers since they are merely following in the tradition of their parents.   Still, most agree that Christianity is idolatry for Jew and non-Jew since it does involve praying to or through an intermediary (Jesus, and in the case of some Christians praying to or through saints, Mary, etc.).

Nissim ben Reuven, The Ran, (14th century) wrote   “…even the Christian saints, and even the…leader of the Ishmaelites, even though their followers do not consider them gods, nevertheless, since they bow to them to acknowledge that they are human incarnation of their divinities, they all have the halachic status of avodah zarah…”

Idolatry does not necessarily mean worshiping a god of stone or wood. Even if a Jew worships the highest angel, it is also a form of idolatry.   G-d is the infinite One, Creator of all things. Anyone who worships anything else is guilty of idolatry even for a non-Jew.

We have already discussed the unity of G-d.  The three-part god of Christianity is not the G-d of Judaism.

Therefore, in the Jewish view, Christianity may very well be a variation of idolatry even for a non-Jew.  The Christian bible teaches its followers that the only way to G-d is through the son (Jesus).  John 14:6 “Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”

This is in direct violation of the Torah precept to worship only G-d.   Sh’mot / Exodus 20:2-3:  “I am G-d your L-rd, who brought you out of Egypt, from the place of slavery.   20:3 Do not have any other gods before Me.”

By saying “before Me” G-d is stressing that no one should believe in any other deity, even if you believe in Him, too.   By praying to or through Jesus a Christian is putting that other entity between themselves and G-d.   If you believe in G-d, why do you need Jesus?   Why do you need to pray to or through anyone but the Holy One?

G-d gave man absolute free will.   Man can choose good or evil, the blessing or the curse.   The choice to honor G-d and pray only to Him is an expression of our free will.    So that such a choice can exist, G-d created a world where both good and evil can freely operate. He thus said, “I form light and create darkness; I make peace and create evil; I am G-d. I do all these things” (Y’shayahu / Isaiah 45:7).

G-d created it in order that man should overcome it. It is written, “Behold, the fear of G-d, that is wisdom, and to depart from evil, that is understanding” (Iyov / Job 28:28).

So humans have absolute free will, with the ability to choose between good and evil.   The Torah says:  “I call heaven and earth to bear witness this day, for I have set before you life and death, the blessing and the curse. Therefore, choose life, so that you and our children may live” (D’varim / Deuteronomy 30:19).

It is evil and a curse to pray to false gods or intermediaries.


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