Yirmiya Perek 19

In perek 19, we come across an oft-used phrase in Tanach. In passuk 4, we are being lambasted for our idol worship of ‘Other Hashems which you did not know about’ (‘asher lo yeda’um’). What does this phrase mean? And why is it worse that we are worshipping idols we are not familiar with; would it better if they were idols we have worshipped in the past?

The key here is the word yeda’um that is from the root da’as, translated as ‘to know.’ But it means more than that. In Bereishis (4:1), we are told that Adam and Chavah conceived (a baby) and the Torah uses the words ‘veha’adam yada es chavah ishto’ (and Adam knew Chavah his wife).. Da’as means an internal link and connection, an expression of internal knowledge. Therefore, when the Navi reports that the people are serving idols which they do not know (yeda’um), he is relating that the people are worshipping powers/idols which are not part of them and with which they have no innate internal connection. We only have a real, meaningful, connection with Hashem.