Mishmeres HaSholom: Ask the Rav

Q: At women’s gatherings and evenings it is common for the program to include humorous sketches mimicking a specific sect. Sometimes an accent is imitated, or specific characteristics are acted out in a humorous way. Needless to say, there is plenty of exaggeration involved so that the audience can have a good laugh.

Is this permissible, or does it border on issurim?

If it is forbidden, how do the organizers of the evening and the audience do teshuvah?

A: At evenings that are intended for a large audience of all types, it is reasonable to assume that caution is taken not to pick on a specific group, as it would likely offend some participants and affect the success of the evening. Generally, an odd character is chosen (as there are in every sect) whose behavior causes laughter. It seems that acting out such a character is not forbidden.

It is, however, commendable to refrain from mimicking general characteristics — even common ones — of a group as a whole. In performances, it is a good idea to refrain from using expressions or terms that label a group, because one can easily slip into forbidden territory of exaggeration and over-emphasizing failings, which could turn into true lashon hara.

If one has transgressed by listening to or participating in such entertainment, one should work on giving the group the benefit of the doubt, think of them positively, and make every effort to uproot the negativity from one’s heart. Also, as part of the teshuvah process, one should regret, admit, and accept upon oneself to be careful of this sin in the future.

The questions and answers above were taken from the Mishmeres Hasholom pamphlet in Israel. For details and inquiries please e-mail us at office@hasholom.org or call 972-2 5379160.

The opinions expressed in this article are those of the individual author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Hamodia.