Parashas Acharei Mos – Kedoshim

The Torah states (Vayikra 19:4): “Do not turn to the idols” (al tifnu el ha-elilim). The Gemara in Shabbos 149a infers from this verse that it is forbidden to look at idols. The Gemara states: “Al tifnu el – midaatchem.” Rashi explains that midaatchem means “what emerges from your mind” – that is, we must not turn our attention to things we concoct in our own minds. The Maggid draws from the Gemara an additional fundamental lesson.
The Maggid builds on an analysis of two Hebrew terms for turning: lifnos and l’hatos. He explains that l’hatos puts emphasis on turning toward a specific concern, whereas lifnos puts emphasis on turning away from what one has been involved with. When Daniel prays for Hashem’s help, he says (Daniel 9:18): “Turn (hattei) Your ear, my God, and listen.” On the other hand, in reporting Moshe’s departure from Pharaoh’s palace, the Torah says (Shemos 10:6): “And he turned (vayifen) and went out from Pharaoh’s presence.” Similarly, in discussing Hashem’s promise “I shall turn (u’fanisi) toward you and make you fruitful” (Vayikra 26:10), the Midrash explains that Hashem is saying: “I shall turn Myself away from all My endeavors to pay your reward” (Sifra, cited by Rashi).  
This point of usage sheds light on a key prophecy (Devarim 31:29): “For I shall bring them to the land that I swore to their forefathers, which flows with milk and honey, but they shall eat, and be sated, and grow fat, and they shall turn (u’fanah) to other gods, and worship them; they will provoke Me and breach My covenant.” Hashem is warning us that if we turn ourselves away from Him, shifting our attention from Torah and mitzvos to other matters, we ultimately will descend to the lowest spiritual level and enter the horrid realm of idolatry.
The Torah exhorts us not to fall into this trap. “Do not turn to the idols,” the Torah says. Midaatchem – do not turn away from (mi) what you now have your minds on (daatchem). We must not shift our focus to worldly vanities, for the end will be disaster. Instead, we must keep ourselves constantly focused on Torah, mitzvos, and our relationship with Hashem.
David Zucker, Site Administrator

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