The Lord is Righteous in All His Ways p.72

Then there is something else that is also important. The Torah continues, “And you shall become corrupt, and make an engraved image, a likeness of any thing” (Deut. 4:25). The Torah does not say that you will worship an idol, but that you will make an idol. This formulation reflects the fact that a Jew does not begin immediately, at once, to engage in idolatrous worship. He only get used to the idea little by little. At first he says “I will just have an idol in my house. When my gentile neighbor or business partner comes into my house and there is no idol there he will feel strange. Why must a Jewish home look different than a non-Jewish home? I can be a good Jew, but there is no reason for the interior of my home to look different than that of a gentile home.” This happens many times, this problem of good will, like participation in interfaith services or exchanging clergymen.

The Jew who acts this way does not want to worship idols. It is not a question of paganism. It is simply a matter of good-will, of human or social relations. After all, you cannot be completely closed, completely different in your home. So in the beginning it is “And make an engraved image, a likeness of any thing.” You will just make it, you will just display it, but you will have no faith in that engraved image or that likeness. So what is wrong with that? The problem is that his is just the beginning. First you make “an engraved image, a likeness of any thing,” and then what is the result? The Torah continues immediately, “And you shall do evil in the sight of the Lord your God to provoke Him to anger.” One sin will lead to another sin. You will start out just with a display of an engraved image, not with the worship of it, but you will finally become totally ensnared in idol worship.


Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik – The Lord is Righteous in All His Ways p.72