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


 

ARTICLES ON SHEMINI AND THE OMER:

View Complete List

What the Jewish People are All About
Rabbi Yissocher Frand - 5758

Sharing the Sorrow
Rabbi Yochanan Zweig - 5773

A Jewish Identity
Rabbi Yaakov Menken - 5758

Looking for a Chavrusah?

1. The Qualifying Factor
Rabbi Yosef Kalatzky - 5772

Reality of Consequence
Rabbi Yochanan Zweig - 5771

The Eloquence of Silence
Rabbi Naftali Reich - 5768

ArtScroll

Remember The Avodah, Part 3
Rabbi Pinchas Winston - 5763

“Letter to my Son Akiva” (born 10 years ago, on Erev LAG B’OMER)
Jon Erlbaum - 5771

To Live As A Jew
Shlomo Katz - 5774

> Where Heaven Meets Earth
Rabbi Naftali Reich - 5774

"Where's The Beef?"
Rabbi Yaakov Menken - 5763

Things We Don't Know
Shlomo Katz - 5772

Frumster - Orthodox Jewish Dating

Low Costs, High Yield Investments
Rabbi Pinchas Avruch - 5762

The Chasida - Fowl Play
Rabbi Eliyahu Hoffmann - 5763

What I Was Chosen To Do
Rabbi Label Lam - 5768

Fire From Heaven
Rabbi Aron Tendler - 5758



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