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Monday, February 26, 2024

It’s Idol Smashing Season

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By: Mendy Kaminker

Do you hear it, too? Everywhere I go, I hear the sounds of shattering; things breaking into a million pieces. I feel like we’re living in a Biblical story.

Let me explain.

One of my favorite stories as a child was about a young boy named Abraham (yes, Abraham from the Bible) who was tasked with running his father’s shop of idols.

Abraham, who had long discovered the real G‑d in heaven, had no intention of actually selling idols. Instead, he used the opportunity to convince his potential clients that idols have no power and worshiping them is pathetic. Ultimately, he took a hammer to the idols and smashed them to smithereens.

When Abraham’s dad returned, infuriated, Abraham claimed that the idols began to fight and kill each other. “You can’t be serious!” his bewildered father responded, effectively proving Abraham’s point. “Those are idols who can’t walk or talk!”

I’ve always loved this story. I can easily picture young Abraham standing alone among hundreds of smashed idols. How satisfying it must have been to grab a hammer and hear the clay statues break into tiny pieces!

But destroying the idols was the easy part. The real challenge was dealing with everyone’s reactions. The idols were, of course, widely idolized. People cherished them; they were seen as highly significant and precious. It took tremendous courage for Abraham to take a stand and stick to his values.

Fast forward to today. Since the Simchat Torah massacre, I see many people having second thoughts about things they used to hold in high regard—idols of sorts.

Take, for example, Ivy League schools. For years, people have looked up to them as the ultimate source of knowledge. Over the past few weeks, however, we’ve sadly discovered that knowledge does not always equate to moral values and care for human life, especially when it comes to Jewish lives.

And what about Hollywood? Talented actors and actresses who seem to be so successful and influential? That idol has shattered, too. Acting talent does not always go hand-in-hand with care for Jewish suffering.

Now consider the media. So many of these suited-up, sharp-witted reporters and commentators are always ready to provide unbiased reporting, except, of course, when Israel is the topic. It’s time to say goodbye to that idol, too.

There are so many idols out there. To me, the biggest is the idea that if the Jews would integrate into the Western world, if only we would be like everyone else, we wouldn’t need to worry anymore for our safety.

So Abraham was left idol-less, and we are, too.

But this is not cause for worry or fear; on the contrary, letting go of the idols will free us to be who we truly are and what we are meant to be.

When Abraham smashed the idols, he seemed to have nothing: no money, power, or fame. But actually, he had everything: faith, courage, connection to G‑d, and the promise that if he kept at it, he would be successful.

We have the same promise. Our faith is strong. G‑d is with us, and with His help, we will survive, thrive and flourish. Am Yisrael chai!


Rabbi Mendy Kaminker is a member of the Chabad.org editorial team and rabbi of Chabad of Hackensack.

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