Terah, Father of the Famous Father – Abraham

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“Why do you make sport of me”?

The way that I came about studying this story about Terah was interesting to me. I remembered reading it years ago when I read the Bible all the way through for the first time. Yesterday, when I went to the book of Genesis to look for it, I couldn’t find it. All it said regarding Terah involved genealogy. I thought I imagined reading it or that I was mixing it up with another story. When I looked it up online I found that it was in the Midrash. I guess that is an ancient Jewish form of a homily imbedded in the text. The Midrash regards Terah as wicked. (E.g., Numbers Rabbah 19:1; 19:33.) There is also a reference in the book of Joshua to Abraham’s father being an idol worshiper. I can’t remember if this story was included in the text of the bible that I read, but I think it was. I want to figure out this little mystery, so any input would be appreciated. Anyway, I hope that it is a valid story and even if it isn’t it will still serve the purpose for this study on fatherhood.

Terah once went away and left Abraham to mind the store. A woman came with a plateful of flour and asked Abraham to offer it to the idols. Abraham took a stick, broke the idols, and put the stick in the largest idol’s hand. When Terah returned, he demanded that Abraham explain what he had done. Abraham told Terah that the idols fought among themselves and the largest broke the others with the stick. “Why do you make sport of me?” Terah cried, “Do they have any knowledge?” Abraham replied, “Listen to what you are saying!” Terah then delivered Abraham to King Nimrod for punishment. (Genesis Rabbah 38:13.) The Zohar says that when God saved Abraham from the furnace, Terah repented. (Zohar, Bereshit 1:77b.) Rabbi Abba b. Kahana said that God assured Abraham that his father Terah had a portion in the World to Come. (Genesis Rabbah 30:4; 30:12.) And thus learned the futility of idol worship.

As fathers we are charged with instructing, training and teaching our children. But that doesn’t mean that we can’t ever learn from them. I like this story because of the way Abraham made fun of his father, and by his practical joke, taught him a very important lesson. I’m not sure if I buy the part of the story where Terah turns his son in to the King, and the King sentences Abraham to death for the offence. So, for the sake of this study, let’s omit that part. I have always loved my own father very much, and I have no complaints about the way he raised me. Although, I did have a sort of fearful respect for him that made it so that even though the two of us have a good sense of humor, I could never have done something like this to him. Now the relationship I have with my kids is a little different, especially with my youngest son, Levi.

Levi is a ball buster extraordinaire. A real practical joker since he was a kindergartner. He’s put things in my shoes, he’s put wet facecloths on my pillow before I go to bed, and one of my favorites; he tapes the trigger of the sprayer to the sink on, and leaves it aimed at me so when I go to make the coffee in the morning I get doused with cold water. I really enjoy being the brunt of his jokes and I let him know that. I’m glad that even though he respects me, probably more than my other kids do, he’s not afraid to “make sport of me”. He does have a little bit of a “dish it out but can’t take it problem” but I’m working on that. A real strong point with Levi is that he can go from a little joker to a pretty deep thinking serious guy and he knows when to turn it on and turn it off.

I think a sense of humor is very important. When used correctly it can really get a kid’s or anyone’s interest and attention so that important instruction can be conveyed. I’ve got a couple serious lectures based entirely on two different jokes. I open these lectures with the joke using it as a sort of parable, and then go on to explain some pretty serious issues to my kids, and recently, a couple of their friends. I hope it comes across like I mean it to. I just hope that my approach works, because it would be kind of embarrassing if it fell flat. I guess when you try to be funny even for the right reasons, sometimes you run the risk of looking like a fool!

write by Dominic Kujawa

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