Mendy Kaminker

It’s idol smashing season

Do you hear it, too? Everywhere I go, I hear smashing sounds, things breaking into a million pieces. And to make it all stranger, I feel like we are living in a biblical story!
Let me explain.
One of my favorite children’s stories was about the smashing idols. It goes like this: a young boy named Avraham (yes, that Avraham, from the bible) was tasked with handling his father’s idol shop.
Avraham – who had long discovered the real G-d in heaven – had no intention of selling idols. Instead, he convinced his potential clients that idol-worshiping is pathetic. Eventually, he smashed all the idols to pieces.
The story ends with a hilarious conversation between Avraham and his dad. Avraham claims that the idols got into a fight and killed each other, and when his bewildered father said, “You can’t be real. Those are idols who can’t walk or talk!” Avraham rebukes his father for worshipping lifeless objects.
I always loved this story. I can easily imagine the scene of young Avraham standing alone among hundreds of smashed idols. It must have been so satisfying to grab a hammer and hear the clay statues break into tiny pieces!
Banging the hammer was the easiest part. The real challenge was everyone’s reaction. The idols were, of course, idolized by everyone. People cherished them and felt they were something significant and precious. It took tremendous courage for Avraham to take a stand and stick to his values.
Fast forward to today. Since the Simchat Torah massacre, I see a lot of people having second thoughts about topics they used to consider in high regard: idols of sorts.
Take, for example, Ivy League schools. For years, people looked up to them as the ultimate source of knowledge. In the past few weeks, we sadly learned that knowledge does not always equate to moral values and care for human lives, especially when it comes to Jewish lives.
And how about Hollywood? These talented actors and actresses, who seem to be so successful and influential? That idol got smashed, too. An acting talent does not always go hand-in-hand with care for Jewish suffering. Another idol smashed.
And consider the media. So many of these suited-up, fancy-looking, 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.
To me, the biggest idol is the idea that if the Jews integrate into the Western world, if only we would be like everyone else, we wouldn’t need to worry anymore for our safety.
So Avraham was left idol-less, and we are, too. But this is not something to worry about or to fear; on the contrary, letting go of the idols would finally free us to be who we truly are and what we are meant to be.
When Avraham smashed the idols, he seemed to have nothing: no money, power, or fame. But 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 from G-d. Our faith is strong, G-d is with us, and with His help, we will survive, thrive and flourish. Am Yisrael Chai!
About the Author
Rabbi Mendy Kaminker is the Chabad Rabbi of Hackensack, and an editorial member of
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