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The need for a Rabbi and related questions
This answer was supplied by our Research Consultant, Rabbi Sholom Ber Bloom,

Dear David,
Thanks for your question: how can we infer that there is a positive commandment of believing in HaShem, from the negative commandment which prohibits worshiping idols?

I have to first give a small introduction for our general audience on the structure of the Torah-law system. The Torah consists of two parts. The Written Torah and the Oral Torah. The two are inseparable from one another. Without the Oral Torah, the Written Torah (the Torah scroll) would be a closed book, unable to be read for lack of punctuation etc. Please refer this excellent video presentation on this subject:

The Written Torah was written in a very concise manner. One letter can contain within itself many intricacies of Jewish law and philosophy. The Oral Torah includes the authentic hermeneutic rules that were given by G-d to Moses for the purpose of identifying the underlying precepts that are included within the Written Torah. One of the hermeneutic rules of the Oral Torah is the rule of inferring the implicit from the explicit.
It's very understandable that until now you didn't see that it is obvious that there is a requirement for believing in HaShem that can be inferred from the Torah's prohibition of idol worship. However, in the following explanation, keep in mind that we are required to believe in the teachings of the Sages who understood G-d's word in the Written Torah through the eyes of the Oral Torah and its hermeneutic rules that were passed down to them.

The book "The Divine Code" is a translation and further explanation of the original Rabbinical Hebrew in the book "Sheva Mitzvot HaShem." The word "obvious" in the sentence you questioned is a translation the Hebrew word "poshut" in the original text. In Rabbinic literature the word "poshut" can (as it does there) refer to something that is obvious AFTER an analysis using the hermeneutic rules for understanding the Written Law, which is NOT something that is going to be obvious "at first glance."
Therefore, we have updated that sentence in "The Divine Code" (for the next edition) to read: "The commandment to believe in one God and no other is included in the prohibition against serving idols, based on the Oral Torah's hermeneutic rule, 'from the negative, one can infer the positive.' ”

To answer your question from a different angle:
The Talmud (in discussing the severity of the misdeed of losing one's temper) compares anger to the sin idol worship. The reason for this is that a person who gets angry demonstrates that he doesn't believe that HaShem controls the world. For if he really believed that HaShem controls the world, he wouldn't get angry, because he would intellectually realize that everything comes from HaShem, and that everything HaShem does is for the best.
In a similar vein, if a person refrains from idol worship, but he doesn't believe in HaShem, that is in fact a shade of idol worship. That is because if you don't believe that HaShem (exists and) is in control of your life, then automatically you believe that you are in control. If that is the case, that is a shade of idol worship, for it is just a matter of degree between worshiping wooden beams or stones, and deifying one's own power or ego. This is why you can infer the Torah's (!) requirement of belief in HaShem from the Torah's prohibition against idolatry. For a lack of belief of G-d is tangent to deifying one's self.

I hope this answers your question. Please write back if you need clarification on any of the above mentioned points.

Rabbi Sholom Ber Bloom

Messages In This Thread
RE: The need for a rabbi and other questions - by excited_for_life - 01-11-2012, 11:11 PM
looking for a tutor - by AskNoah fan - 02-20-2012, 04:31 PM
RE: The need for a Rabbi and other questions - by AskNoah fan - 02-26-2012, 02:57 PM
Ger Toshav and Rambam - by amenyahu - 01-11-2013, 03:39 AM
RE: Ger Toshav and Rambam - by Director Michael - 01-13-2013, 06:26 PM
Is this an obligation? - by GentileLaw - 07-08-2015, 02:58 AM
RE: The need for a Rabbi and related questions - by Director Michael - 07-29-2015, 03:28 PM
Rabbinical Jurisdiction - by amenyahu - 01-13-2014, 11:46 PM

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