Is there any connection between love and idolatry?

I am asking this question in order to understand love and to see if there is a relationship between it and idolatry. Is there a connection, and if so, what can I do to make sure that what I love (either an object, idea, or another person) is not a form of idolatry?

To clarify further, I will explain what I mean by love. I mean love as the act of loving something or someone, whereby the individual spiritually attaches himself to something external to him, such as an idea, object, or another human being. The act of loving, as I understand it, manifests itself either spontaneously or transcendentally. The former is referring to the act of loving that which he experiences with his senses, and the latter referring to loving that which comes from contemplation, meditation, etc. Whether its spontaneous love or transcendental love, can the act of love be the cause of one's idolatry?

Additionally, what I mean by idolatry, as I understand it, is when an individual bases his existence around an object, idea, or person. It is a desire to live in a certain way based on what the individual cherishes and values.

I may be overthinking this and I do apologize for the confusion, but I just wanted clarification on the concept of love. Personally, I love family, art, music, and other things that bring me joy and comfort, but I am concerned that the act of loving something could lead to idolatry. So how do I know if it is or isn't? That is why the question was raised.

  • 1
    Please define "love" and "idolatry" and state why you think there should be a connection. Aug 9, 2017 at 21:22
  • I suppose it is noteworthy that we refer to the passage of ואהבת as קבלת עול מלכות שמים. Just as one “loves” HaShem with the acceptance of His mitzvos, it could be argued that one “loves” idols with the acceptance of the corresponding religion, רחמנא לצלן. Why there should be a connection I’m not clear on, however.
    – DonielF
    Aug 9, 2017 at 22:13
  • In the conclusion of the paragraph beginning with a bunch of asterisks, you ask whether love can be the cause of idolatry. Love takes on many forms - based love, baseless love, friendship, enjoyment, lust - and in just about all of them, if the feeling is strong enough, it can be a powerful motivator or deterrent. Ultimately everything we do is based on what we want to do or don’t want to do, by weighing the outcomes of the options in front of us, perhaps subconsciously, and making a decision. If your question is whether love can cause one to sin, of course the answer is yes.
    – DonielF
    Aug 9, 2017 at 22:20
  • Further, you ask two other questions in the course of this post - if there is a connection between the sin of idolatry and the emotion of love, and how one knows if his or her emotions are leading him or her astray. Each of those - when fleshed out, perhaps - are very intelligent questions, but seem to be unrelated. Answering one doesn’t necessarily answer the others. Maybe you should pick one for this post and post the others separately?
    – DonielF
    Aug 9, 2017 at 22:23
  • 1
    Chazal do use erotic imagery in describing idolatry. See Yoma 9b where the verse in Isaiah 28:20 "The couch is too short for stretching out" is interpreted as God saying, as it were, "This bed is too short for you to share with two lovers" - either choose God or choose idolatry.
    – Chaim
    Aug 10, 2017 at 17:06

2 Answers 2


We are commanded in the Torah to "love your fellow as yourself" and also not to worship idolatry, so clearly the one is not in violation of the other.

  • 1
    Shabbos 31a says this mitzvah is merely not to do to your friend that which you don’t want done to yourself. You don’t need to love everybody in the sense defined in the OP. See Maharsha there who says very clearly that Hillel was referring to ואהבת לרעך כמוך זה כלל גדול בתורה, later said in those words by R’ Akiva.
    – DonielF
    Aug 17, 2017 at 21:25
  • Subjectively defined questions make for subjective answers. My point is that clearly the terms as the Torah defines them are not contradictory.
    – Baruch
    Aug 17, 2017 at 21:28
  • Again, though, that’s not what the Torah means by אהבה in that context. What the OP seems to be discussing is אהבה in the context of ואהבת את ה׳ אלקיך, the type of love described throughout שיר השירים, and there is no obligation to feel that way about everybody.
    – DonielF
    Aug 17, 2017 at 21:33

In my mind, Jews have continued to exist through unfathomable sadness and loss by upholding a very powerful, very durable, and very difficult idea.

As individuals--like all individuals on this earth--we have deep love for the things, the places, the experiences, the pursuits, the ideas and especially the people that are meaningful to us in life.

But "life is made of ever so many partings welded together." All these things and people may leave us, and likely will in one way or another. G-d can take them all away. The only thing G-d cannot take from us is G-d.

G-d will be our comfort, our source of love and life, to the last, and even after life. Therefore our primary love should be for G-d and as Jews, that inborn love of G-d is our birthright.

  • 2
    What a beautiful answer! Yeah, in g-d we always find comfort, no matter what.
    – user16556
    Oct 4, 2018 at 11:25

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