Welcome to Yeshiva Tiferet, your post-highschool American yeshiva in Jerusalem, Israel.

The Burning Fires of Molech

R Pesach Siegel

Parshat Kedoshim

May 4, 2012

                                                                         Parshas Kedoshim 5772

In Parshas Kedoshim (perek 20, posuk 2) The Torah says, “Ish ish etc. asher  yitayn mizar’o laMolech mos yumas am ha’aretz yirgamuhu ba’aven” – Each and every man who delivers his child to the fires of the Molech god is to be stoned by the “am ha’aretz”, the nation of the land.”

This is the only time in the entire chumash that Klal Yisroel is referred to by the name am ha’aretz. It is a term that is usually used to describe the gentile denizens of a place, as by the people of Ephron HaChiti or the ones who came down to Mitzrayim to purchase food during the years of famine. (Pharaoh indeed calls the Bnei Yisroel am ha’aretz in Shmos, perek 5, posuk 5. But that is Pharaoh who is doing so, and it was before Klal Yisroel became a nation).

What is unique about the eradication of the worship of Molech that requires Klal Yisroel to be known by that name?

In order to comprehend this, we must first understand what the term am ha’aretz means. In addition, we must know what the service of the Molech represents.

Rashi quotes the words of the Toras Kohanim that explains the term am ha’aretz. The Toras Kohanim says, “Am ha’aretz - Am shebigino nivrays ha’aretz. The nation who the aretz was created for, is called am ha’aretz.

The Jews are referred to as “the nation of the land” because the ground of the world was created for the sake of the Jewish people.

We can attempt to further clarify this issue by turning our attention to the topic of Sefiras Ha’Omer.

Jewish law requires one to stand upon reciting the Sefira count. This is derived from a passage in Devarim (perek 16, posuk 9). The posuk says, “Meyhachel chermesh bakamah” – When the scythe begins to cut the standing grain. From the word “bakamah” it is derived that one must stand while counting the Omer.

There is a difficulty in this. The posuk says that the grain is standing. It says nothing about the one fulfilling the mitzvah being required to stand. From this difficulty emerges a cardinal principle. When performing mitzvos with the produce of the land, we must put ourselves in their place. We are the instruments of G-d’s will. That is the sole basis for our existence. We are commanded to perform the mitzvos through actions with beings/entities outside of ourselves, but we must internalize that we are as the land, that has no agenda of its own. It awaits its owner to bring forth blessing from within it.

We are standing grain. We are land. We are aretz.

Similarly, we derive the halacha that a dried out lulav is unfit for use from the posuk, “lo hamaysim yehalelu kah” – The dead do not praise G-d. The posuk, seemingly, is talking about humans not being able to serve G-d after death, but Chazal use it to teach us the halachic aspects of the lulav. When we shake the lulav in G-d’s honor, it is but an extension of ourselves. We are the lulav and the lulav is us.

This is starkly evident from the following posuk. The Torah says, “Al techalel es bitcha lihaznosa vilo sizneh ha’aretz” (perek 19, posuk 29) – Do not bring your daughter to immorality and harlotry. One who does so causes the land to act as a harlot. Although the planting will be done in Eretz Yisroel, the crops will not sprout where they are planted. They will be “unfaithful” and will sprout outside the borders.

It is clear that there is a bond between Klal Yisroel and the aretz. As Klal Yisroel goes, so goes the land.

The Molech worship

The Molech worship is unique among idol worship. A person can come to worship idols out of doubts in emunah. The Molech worship is the sacrificing of one’s seed upon the fires of the avoda zara. One does not sacrifice his own children due to doubts in emunah. What drives a person to commit such wickedness?

This can be understood through the mitzvah of Pru U’Rvu – be fruitful and multiply. It is the first mitzvah in the Torah as well as the most important one. 

Man does not live forever. It is integral that the aretz be filled with G-d’s presence. How is an eved Hashem to ensure this even after his passing?  The answer is, he leaves behind him a continuation of himself. Having children is the supreme act of perpetuating the glory of G-d forever down here on this Earth. There is no greater act.

Rav Naftali Tzvi Yehuda Berlin (the Netziv) says that one who worships the Molech has gone very far. He has reached the stage that he will even sacrifice his own child in order to ensure that nothing remains of himself in this world after he dies. He wants no remnant of the creation which G-d has brought about by creating him.

The am ha’aretz, are the ones who personify the concept of filling and maintaining the kavod of G-d in the lowly aretz, thus elevating the ground of the earth. They are the ones who must rid the world of those who oppose G-d’s presence in this world at all cost.

It is integral to constantly keep in mind the purpose of giving birth and raising our offspring. There are so many opportunities to help bring forth the potential for Kiddush shem shamayim that lies dormant in each and every one of our unique, special offspring. There are also many Molech’s out there …..

Site Contents ©2018 by Yeshiva Tiferet. American Friends of Yeshiva Tiferet is a tax exempt non-profit organization under the IRS code 501(c)(3). Terms of Use Site Security Credits