Sunday, July 15, 2007

Ashtarot - Charging For Torah

כ"ט בתמוז תשס"ז

In this week's parashah (Devarim 1:4) we read: "after he had smitten Sihon the king of the Amorites, who dwelt in Heshbon, and Og the king of Bashan, who dwelt in Ashtarot, at Edrei ..."

In both witchcraft and Torah, it is prohibited to charge money for imparting the wisdom each contains to others. Torah has a word for making one's spiritual practice into an idol through repeated actions of charging money for imparting wisdom - ashtarot.

Ashtarot (עשתרת) is constructed with the root עשת meaning "an idol that enriches". The construct תרת means "to seek". Taken together, the construct עשתרת pertains to "seeking that which enriches" in an manner which prostitutes one's spiritual practice and knowledge in exchange for money, enriching the one who teaches while impoverishing the one who receives. That, my friends, is the inner and practical meaning of ashtarot.

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