The Pious Fool: A Sometimes-Hermetic Jewish Humor Trope
Friedman, L. W. and Friedman, H. H. (2018). The Pious Fool: A Sometimes-Hermetic Jewish Humor Trope. International Studies of Humour, 7(1), Forthcoming
17 Pages Posted: 2 Sep 2018
Date Written: August 19, 2018
Jewish humor is generally considered to be self-deprecating rather than mocking. This paper studies one Jewish humor trope in which disparagement is used – that of the pious fool. The Talmud presents the chasid shoteh (pious fool) as one who could destroy the world; his piety is a danger to society. Indeed, the Talmud warns us not to live in the vicinity of an am-haaretz chasid (pious ignoramus). Of the various types of pious fools portrayed in humor, some might actually be quite learned, others not; some are arrogant in their piety which, of course, serves to negate said piety; some are kind, warm, and quite humane while others wield their piety as an implacable weapon along with, sometimes, a literal weapon. In mocking the pious fools, we use humor to put them in their place and we come to understand that the core value of any true religion is caring for others, especially the outsider and the unfortunates of society.
Keywords: Humor, Jewish Humor, Pious Fool, Hillel, Scary Sanctimonious Type, Talmud.
JEL Classification: M12, M14, M54, J50
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation