Gods of Silver and Gods of Gold

Yael Eckstein  |  January 20, 2022

idol of the golden calf

Do not make any gods to be alongside me; do not make for yourselves gods of silver or gods of gold. — Exodus 20:23

Each week in synagogue, Jews read through the Torah from Genesis to Deuteronomy. The Torah portion for this week is Yitro, which means “Jethro,” from Exodus 18:1-20:23.

In 2005, a Jewish man named Edward Reichman passed away in Jerusalem at the age of eighty. He was a real estate tycoon who left behind billions of dollars. He also left two wills with instructions to open the first will immediately, and the second, thirty days after his death. When the Reichman family opened the first will, they found a very strange request: Edward had asked to be buried in his favorite pair of socks.

Now, according to Jewish law, everyone is buried in simple burial shrouds and nothing more. Nothing else is allowed on the body or in the casket. Period. 

The Reichman children went to rabbi after rabbi, seeking permission to obey their father’s request. But no rabbi could help them. In the end, Edward Reichman was buried the same way as everyone else — without his socks.

Thirty days later, Edward’s children opened his second will. This is what it said: “My dear children, by now you must have buried me without my socks. I wanted you to truly understand that a man can have all the money in the world, but in the end, he can’t even take along one pair of socks!” 

Gods of Silver and Gods of Gold

In this week’s Torah portion, just after the conclusion of the Ten Commandments, God gave Israel what appears to be a redundant commandment: “Do not make any gods to be alongside me; do not make for yourselves gods of silver or gods of gold.”

Now, God had already forbade His people from making graven images or worshiping false gods at the beginning of the Ten Commandments. What was He adding?

I believe that God wasn’t talking about false gods in the usual sense. Many people make their money and possessions into “gods of silver or gods of gold.” They elevate possessions to a position of such great importance that they are even on par with their commitment to God. They are “alongside” Him.

Like Edward Reichman, we must always remember that we use our possessions to serve God. We don’t serve God to get possessions.

Your Turn:

Think of some ways that you can use the blessings of “silver and gold” that God has given you to serve Him better.

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