Kenneth Cohen

Distance from Evil

Rashi, at the end of Parshat Noach, describes how Avraham Avinu upset Nimrod by breaking his idols. Nimrod acted as if he was a deity.

Rashi goes on to explain how Avraham was thrown into a fiery service, as a punishment. He was miraculously saved by Hashem. His brother, Haran, after seeing this miracle, willingly went into this furnace. Because he did not have the faith of his brother, he perished. This is why Avraham felt responsible for his son, Lot. He also married Haran’s daughter, Sara.

There is an interesting argument in Masechet Avoda Zara, between Rav Yochanan and his brother in-law, Reish Lakish, regarding broken fragments of an idol.
Rav Yochanan is of the opinion that these fragments, especially a recognizable hand or foot of the idol, is still treated as a forbidden fragment of Avoda Zara.

Reish Lakish, on the other hand, disagrees by saying that if someone finds that his idol is broken, he comes to a reasonable conclusion. If this idol could not manage to hold itself together, how could it possibly answer my prayers? This was what Avraham realized as a young boy. If an idol could easily be broken, how could it have any powers?

Nevertheless, the Halacha is like Rav Yochanan, that even fragments maintain their forbidden status, and they must be destroyed. It is clear that we must distance ourselves from evil and impurities, and not even allow fragments of it, to be around us. All negativity and negative influences, must be kept away from us.

And we are now fighting a battle against the evil that has harmed our citizens. Just like the evil that affects us nationally, must be destroyed, we must also remove it from our personal lives.

About the Author
Rabbi Cohen has been a Torah instructor at Machon Meir, Jerusalem, for over twenty years while also teaching a Talmud class in the Shtieblach of Old Katamon. Before coming to Israel, he was the founding rabbi of Young Israel of Century City, Los Angeles. He recently published a series of Hebrew language-learning apps, which are available at
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