Thursday, January 31, 2008

You Shall Not Plant a Tree Beside the Altar

The picture above is of a Hindu shrine on the Island of Bali. The tree is a banyan tree.

The picture above is of the sanctuary of Temple Emanuel of Greater Washington DC.

I guess they where trying to be environmentally sensitive. Its supposed to be a banyan tree. But Jews are specifically forbidden to worship trees! So it seems like an awkward (dare I say inappropriate) symbol to me.

In the Bible, holy trees are called asherot (singular asherah.)

"You shall not plant any tree as an Asherah beside the altar of The Lord your God which you shall make. " (Deuteronomy 16:21)

Now I'm environmentally sensitive, and I am not a fundamentalist, but still ....


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