Pyromania

Acharei Mos

Some sins are so severe that they result in horrifying consequences. The Torah compiles a list of transgressions which are capable of inducing a most bitter after-effect; eviction from Eretz Yisroel. The intrinsic sanctity of the Land cannot tolerate immoral behavior, and self- purges by vomiting wayward inhabitants. This phenomenon actually aided the Jewish people in their initial conquest of the Land. The previous residents were so morally degenerate, they had lost the right to inhabit Eretz Yisroel and the spiritual forces attributed to this Land assisted in bringing about their downfall.

Question

The Torah tabulates the crimes that engender expulsion and virtually every single wrongdoing is of a sexual nature; adultery, incest, homosexuality and bestiality. There is one offense listed which doesn’t seem to be in concord with the rest, it stands apart by not being sensual – Molech. What is Molech?

This was a hollow idol that was divided into seven compartments, in one of which they put flour, in the second turtle-doves, the third a ewe, fourth a ram, fifth a calf, sixth an ox, and in the seventh a child, which were all burned together by heating the statue inside. (Yalkut Shimoni)

Rashi, (Yirmiyohu 7:31) provides additional information:

This contraption was made of copper; and they heated the idol from his lower parts; with his hands being stretched out, and made hot. They put the child between his hands, and it was burnt vehemently crying out. The priests beat a drum, so that the father might not hear the voice of his son, and his heart might not be moved.

Molech was a form of idolatry in one of its most evil forms. It disregarded murder and convinced its followers to commit hideous acts. It turned loving parents against their children going so far as to convince and condone infanticide. It is no surprise that its service is regarded with abhorrence. But why is this worse than other forms of idolatry. All foreign worship is repugnant to G-d and certainly murder is the biggest antithesis to civilization, yet these crimes individually or cumulatively do not cause the Land to exile us. Why is Molech different? Is it perhaps the synergistic effect of murder and idolatry?

Answer

Remarkably the devotion expressed to Molech could persuade parents to kill their own children. A father or mother could overcome their own passionate filial love that Hashem instills in family relationships. It still begs the question, how can a father stoop to infanticide? Even the priests develped methods to avert the father’s ears from hearing his son’s cries; they knew that a small whimper would suffice to stir his seemingly stout heart. But had the father really lost his mind and reason, can he not fathom that tomorrow morning his son’s bed will be empty, does he not contemplate the reality that his child in whom he invested so much effort has been put to death. How could a parent be so callous?

This insensitive behavior had its roots in an immoral sexual lifestyle. If his marriage does not have an element of increasing Kovod Shemayim and no holiness is attached to matrimony, a pure technical arrangement, then the offspring of this union can be viewed as mundane by-products. Even worse sometimes parents may view children as a necessary nuisance in gratifying their erotic desires. It is no revelation that in societies where intimacy is chiefly a medium of pleasure, their promiscuous lifestyle are precursor to pro-choice decisions. To maintain their lifestyle abortion is freely sanctioned. Not that it is even possible to engage in marriage solely for the sake of Heaven but at least this should be a contributing element. A parent who has the wrong attitude to matrimony and conjugal relations, a person who views it as an opportunity for lascivious indulgence could be persuaded to offer his child to Molech in order to manipulate the celestial bodies.

Ultimately the root of Molech is in line with the other transgressions which result in exile. It may be less directly related to sexual immorality but the nucleus of this flaw is no different, it too stems from a voluptuous craving. Just as improper sexual activity was the harbinger of expulsion, Molech which had its source in sexual indifference could G-d forbid have a similar consequence.

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