Most of us think of avodah zarah as something repugnant, forbidden, and entirely outside our scope of interest. But its treatment in Tanach and by Chazal shows much complexity that we gloss over. Rabbi Klein, a talmid chacham and scholar, does the heavy lifting for us, uncovering what we need to know — and entirely in the spirit of Chazal and our mesorah.
Rabbi Yitzchok Adlerstein, Director of Interfaith Affairs, Simon Wiesenthal Center
About The Author
Rabbi Reuven Chaim Klein is a native of Valley Village, CA. He graduated Emek Hebrew Academy and Yeshiva Gedolah of Los Angeles before going to study at the famed Mir Yeshiva in Jerusalem and in Beth Medrash Govoha of America in Lakewood, NJ. He received rabbinic ordination from leading authorities Rabbi Moshe Sternbuch, Rabbi Zalman Nechemiah Goldberg, Rabbi Yosef Yitzchak Lerner, and Dayan Chanoch Sanhedrai. He is also a member of the RCA, an alumnus of Ohr LaGolah, and was awarded a summer fellowship at the Tikvah Institute for Yeshiva Men in 2015. Mosaica Press published his first book, Lashon HaKodesh: History, Holiness, & Hebrew in 2014, and it became an instant classic. Rabbi Klein has also published papers in several prestigious journals, including Journal of Halacha and Contemporary Society (New York), Jewish Bible Quarterly (Jerusalem), Kovetz Hamaor (Monsey), and Kovetz Kol HaTorah (London). Many of his writings and lectures are available for free on the internet. Rabbi Klein is currently a member of the Kollel of Yeshivas Mir in Jerusalem and lives with his wife and children in Beitar Illit, Israel. He can be reached via email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Much of the Bible is an attack on various pagan rituals that were practiced by the Israelites and their neighbors…But the exact meaning and nature of what is being condemned and why are shrouded in mystery — with the result that large parts of our own sacred texts are simply not understood. Rabbi Klein is providing a very useful service in filling this lacuna.
Rabbi Dr. Yitzchak Breitowitz, Rav, Kehillat Ohr Somayach, Jerusalem, Israel
Rabbi Reuven Chaim Klein once again combines traditional rabbinic scholarship with historical and archeological information to give us a complete and comprehensive treatment of a vast topic…Engaging and informative, this unique book is highly recommended for those who want to gain a deeper understanding of the main obstacle to the Jewish People’s relationship with G-d in the time of the Bible.
Rabbi Dr. Zvi Ron, Editor, Jewish Bible Quarterly
Excellent book ! Amazing ! Highly recommended . A true scholar research on the avoda Zara and The Real Avoda Hashem . Thank you rabbi for working on this great Sefer
Rabbi Klein deconstructs the rather abstruse topic of idolatry addressing varied elements including forms of worship, its allure on the ancients, the surprising convergence of monotheistic beliefs with polytheistic practices etc. Geared for those who value meticulous historical research while maintaining a healthy respect for traditional beliefs. Will be appreciated by anyone with even a passing interest in this subject.
Bernard Jackson –
Rabbi Klein uses rabbinic tradition (from ancient to modern times) supplemented by modern biblical and archaeological scholarship to trace the history of Jewish thought on idolatry in biblical times and to provide a discussion of 37 foreign deities mentioned in the Bible. An elegantly produced, clearly written, thoroughly researched, methodologically honest and uniquely useful book.
Yaakov Chaitovsky –
I thoroughly enjoyed R Klein’s masterful book, God Versus gods. Its detailed and comprehensive survey of the ins and outs of avodah zarah as presented in Tanakh is meticulously researched and well written. It effectively weaves a dizzying array of academic/modern sources into an otherwise traditional, mesorah based presentation on the significant, but often puzzling, role avodah zarah/idolatry plays throughout Tanakh. R Klein’s work can help the scholar and layperson alike better understand the challenges that idolatry presented to Biblical Judaism and why the Torah devotes so much space to warning us about its dangers. The book earns a place in every serious Torah student’s library.
Rabbi Klein did a masterful job of accumulating sources and information about idolatry and our challenges in combatting its influences throughout history. As I prepared for Pesach, I especially learned a lot from the chapter on “Holy Sheep and Golden Calves in Egypt and the Exodus.” The amount of work and thought that went into this book is astounding and I highly recommend it for anyone interested in understanding the Jewish historical approach to idolatry.
Klein makes a really strong case for why we should be worshipping idols. I hope he’s are ready for the consequences!
At the intersection of Judaism and idolatry, this book is an amazing blend of history, Tanach, and Jewish outlook. Klein smoothly synthesizes Torah true values unapologetically with history and respectfully diminishes the claims of academia in its own terms. I’m thoroughly impressed by the level of scholarship and depth of research he put into every detail.
I love exploring the intersect of Halacha and history. Avodah Zarah. Two years of learning Sanhedrin and Avodah Zarah in yeshiva have given me a real excitement for Avodah Zarah, as it neatly fits into the two things I enjoy learning the most. Deep in the sugyas of Asheirah, I found myself reading the Wiki page on Deities in the Bible quite religiously. Anyone seeking to understand the facts behind Tanach, Sanhedrin, Avodah Zarah, or just the calendars we live by, must read Klein’s book. There is so much “Da Mah LeHashiv” to sow into our back pockets. I paid special attention to the monotheistic vs. Jewish polytheism point and hope I remember it well.
My wife is a history teacher, and she even took the book away from me so she could read it herself. We’re both enjoying it.