Why is idol worship such a cardinal sin? Who really cares if someone wants to foolishly serve a rock or a tree?!
When was the last time you worshipped an idol? When was last time you were even tempted to worship an idol?
No Jew, in his or her heart-of-hearts, believes in worshipping anything man-made, anything other than the One True God.
This is why so many Jews are atheists: not because they don’t believe, but because they could only believe in the real thing. Thus, until they meet the real thing, a Jew remains skeptical.
Why then did the Torah feel compelled to dedicate one of the Ten Commandments to prohibiting idolatry?
The philosophers in Rome asked the great Jewish sages why God did not simply destroy all of the world’s idols and remove false deities forever?
The sages replied: “Should God wreck His universe – the sun and the moon and the stars and the planets – because of fools?!
Herein lies the inner meaning and spiritual lesson of the commandment to refrain from idolatry – a lesson which is relevant to our lives today:
Our goal is to connect all creations with their Creator, not to short sell a creation by thinking it is the source of power.
The latter is a service foreign to the Jew. The former is the very essence of the Jew.