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Three of the Ten Commandments deal with belief in Hashem and not in false gods:

G--d spoke all these statements, saying. "I am Hashem, your G-d, Who has taken you out of the land of Egypt, from the house of slavery. You shall not recognize the gods of others in My presence. You shall not make yourself a carved image nor any likeness of that which is in the heavens above or on the earth below or in the water beneath the earth. You shall not prostrate yourself to them nor worship them, for I am Hashem, your G-d -- a jealous G-d, Who visits the sin of fathers upon children to the third and fourth generations, for My enemies. But Who shows kindness for thousands [of generations] to those who love Me and observe My commandments" (Shemos 20:1-6).
Throughout the Torah, there are many prohibitions against idolatry, heresy and things related to them. The Sages, indeed, instituted countless restrictions, limiting Jewish relationships with non-Jews in order to minimize their influence upon us. The Rabbis knew how much one is influenced by his or her environment and tried to protect us from negative persuasions.

Man's sense of pride does not let him admit how easily his opinions are affected by outside influences. He likes to believe that he is totally in control of his brain and its ideas. But the truth is that very much of what we believe is based on what we have heard from others. Therefore, it is of utmost importance that we hear only Torah truths.

When I was a little boy, my best friend was a Roman Catholic boy, Richie, who lived in a building near ours and whose apartment windows faced ours. The first time I visited him at home I was shocked to see a very big crucifix on the wall with a figure of a man nailed to it. When I asked him what and who that was, I received a lesson in Christianity including the "fact" that the Jews crucified their founder. I returned home all confused and asked my mother, may she be well, why we killed him. She asked me who I had been speaking with and began to deprogram me. Even until today, many years later, I remember clearly the nightmare I had that night as a result of that traumatic experience.

I once heard an address from Rabbi Shlomo Rottenberg z"l at a Torah Umesorah History convention. When he spoke about Christianity he mentioned the dangers of negative influence. He pointed out that many have passed a Church and, upon finding the door open, couldn't resist peeking inside. And how many of us watched the funeral of President John F. Kennedy on TV and observed the Catholic burial rituals? The image of impurity which they saw, he said, embedded itself in their brain and "cannot be removed with Spic & Span."

This phenomenon is even more serious than it may seem. For it says in the Holy Writings that right before one dies, when it is most important for him to declare his absolute and undeniable belief in Hashem as the One and Only G-d, the Satan tries with all of his might to confuse him. It is then that he reviews in his mind's eye all of the impure images he saw throughout his life; including those of idolatry, heresy and other forbidden things.

Rabbi Yisroel Dovid Neiviner, shlita, told me a fantastic story he heard from Hagaon Harav Aharon Kotler ztvk"l. Reb Aharon was actually relating why he held the great Kapishnitzer Rebbe ztvk"l in high regard.

One day, in the esteemed Yeshiva of Lakewood, the yeshiva's founder and head, Reb Aharon Kotler, was approached by one of his students. The young man, a real Torah scholar, was crying and asking the Rosh Yeshiva for help with a very embarrassing problem. Recently, for no apparent reason, he explained, he felt some internal drive to convert to Christianity. Understandably, the boy was extremely disturbed by such an uncommon desire. At first he ignored the urge but when it persisted to bother him he decided that he must ask the Rosh Yeshiva for help.

Reb Aharon was shocked to hear of the matter and tried to help his student by making light of the whole issue as a spark of silliness which sometimes overcomes even a great person. He advised the young man to submerse himself in learning and forget about the issue completely.

However, after two weeks, the boy returned to his mentor and said that, try as he might to ignore it, he keeps getting these tremendous desires to change his religion. He could not understand it but he could not ignore it either. This time, the Rosh Yeshiva spoke to him a bit about the truth of Judaism and the falsehood of other religions.

The next time Reb Aharon was in Boro Park, Brooklyn, he met the Kapishnitzer Rebbe and asked him what he thinks of the strange story. Why would a Torah scholar, who sits and learns in the Beis Midrash, all day long, suddenly have a desire to convert to Christianity?

The Rebbe thought for a few moments and then responded. "When you go back to Lakewood, ask the boy how he sets his watch."

Reb Aharon was disappointed. "Kapishnitzer Rebbe," he said, "I'm asking you a very serious question, and you seem to be giving me a very shallow answer."

The Rebbe responded, "Why do you care to try? You don't have any better answer than the one I gave you anyway."

When Reb Aharon returned to yeshiva, he called the boy over and asked him if he has a clock. The fellow responded that he has two; one in his bedroom and one in his kitchen.

The Rosh Yeshiva then asked him, "When the clock has to be wound and set, how do you adjust it properly?"

The student replied, "Opposite my room there is a church with a big clock outside of it. I know that that clock is very precise so whenever I have to set my own timepiece I look at it and adjust it accordingly."

Reb Aharon was shocked at what he heard and understood. He instructed the young man to change his room immediately to the other side of the building where he would not see the impurities which were influencing him subconsciously. The boy did so and his problem was solved.

Shema Yisrael Torah Network
Jerusalem, Israel