Torah.org Home Subscribe Services Support Us
 
Print Version

Email this article to a friend

Good Humor

By Rabbi Daniel Travis

These are the chronicles of Terach: Terach fathered Avram. (Bereshith 11:27)

Terach was a professional idol salesman. One day he had to go out of town, and he left his son Avram in charge of his shop. A customer entered the shop with a handful of fine flour to offer as a sacrifice to the idols. Avram, who had already begun to recognize the futility of idolatry, took a hammer and smashed all the idols except the largest one. When his father returned, he told him that there had been an uproar among the idols over who should get the offering, until the largest one took a hammer and smashed all of them. Furious, Terach sent Avram to Nimrod to be killed.(1)

Under such circumstances Avram was not expected to relay to Terach what had actually transpired. Since it was clear that his father would be enraged when he saw his entire enterprise destroyed, why didn’t he give him a more believable excuse? Why did he have to make matters worse by fabricating such an absurd story? Furthermore, since mockery is generally viewed as an extremely harmful trait(2), how could he employ such tactics?

All forms of mockery are forbidden except for that of idol worship.(3) In order to comprehend why it is permitted to mock idols, it is first necessary to understand why ridicule is usually a serious offense. When a person makes fun of someone, he causes irreparable damage by disgracing him. Speaking publicly makes matters worse, because he is undermining any possible benefit that could come to the object of his scorn. Since idol worship is complete falsehood, for these reasons it is actually beneficial to mock idol worship. Furthermore, when someone mocks another person, implicit in his words is a derision of God, for everything and everyone has a Divine source.(4) Since idolatry claims to be independent from God, this is not applicable. Avram therefore set up this absurd scenario in order to show the world the true nature of idol worship.


1. Bereshith Rabbah 38:19.

2. Sotah 42a.

3. Megilah 25b.

4. Sha’arei Teshuvah 3:174-176.


Text Copyright © 2006 by Rabbi Daniel Travis and Torah.org


 
Sell Chometz Online







ARTICLES ON KEDOSHIM AND THE OMER:

View Complete List

Lag B'Omer & The Big Picture
Rabbi Pinchas Winston - 5770

Appreciating the Value of the Jew
Rabbi Yosef Kalatsky - 5763

Everybody's a Dreamer – Everybody's a Star
Jon Erlbaum - 0

> Love Your Neighbor: Who Needs Friends?
Rabbi Osher Chaim Levene - 5766

Motherhood & Shabbos Pie
Rabbi Mordechai Kamenetzky - 5759

Sefiras HaOmer and Rabbi Akiva
Rabbi Yehudah Prero - 5766

ArtScroll

Prisms of Light - Reflections of Shattered Glass
Rabbi Naftali Reich - 5772

Focus on the Counting
Rabbi Yehudah Prero - 5756

The Third Rail
Rabbi Yaakov Menken - 5764

Looking for a Chavrusah?

Don't Take it to Heart
Rabbi Eliyahu Hoffmann - 5760

It Is Easier To Overcome Physical Pain Than To Suppress The Human Psyche
Rabbi Yissocher Frand - 5772

Orlah - No Shortcuts?
Rabbi Eliyahu Hoffmann - 5765

Frumster - Orthodox Jewish Dating

Now Become Holy!
Rabbi Label Lam - 5770

Not Every Thing is Spelled Out in Shulchan Aruch
Rabbi Yissocher Frand - 5771

After Death - Life!
Rabbi Pinchas Winston - 5762

What's an Omer?
Rabbi Yehudah Prero - 5755



Project Genesis

Torah.org Home


Torah Portion

Jewish Law

Ethics

Texts

Learn the Basics

Seasons

Features

TORAHAUDIO

Ask The Rabbi

Knowledge Base




Help

About Us

Contact Us



Free Book on Geulah!




Torah.org Home
Torah.org HomeCapalon.com Copyright Information