I have often seen leitzanus, mockery, defined along the lines of making a joke out of serious matters. Intuitively this is a good definition, but does anyone have a source which spells it out?

And to add to the question I heard a shiur on YUTorah.org where leitzanus is defined as treating a trivial matter as important in addition to making light of the serious, but no the source for this definition was given.

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    Sharrie Teshuvah and Mesilas Yesharim talk about how terrible it is but don't define it. Commented Apr 7, 2010 at 23:08
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    as does the Tanya Commented Apr 7, 2010 at 23:08
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    Yirmeyahu, Welcome to mi.yodeya, and thanks for the interesting question! I look forward to seeing you around.
    – Isaac Moses
    Commented Apr 8, 2010 at 2:09
  • ANother possible translation is "cynicism."
    – Ariel
    Commented Apr 8, 2010 at 17:41
  • Try Avot 3:3 Commented Jun 19, 2012 at 0:24

2 Answers 2


It is in Maharal: ספר נתיבות עולם ב - נתיב הליצנות - פרק ב הלצנות הוא הפך הדין כי הלצנות הוא דבר התול "... Leitzanus is the opposite of "Din" in that Leitzanus is the concept of mockery..."

(Unfortunately Chelek Beis of the relatively newer print of Maharal is not yet available)

There is other material there and in the previous perek which builds a strong case for the definition you have proposed.

Rav Hutner, in Pachad Yitzchak on Purim, Maamer Alef, explains it the way you are saying and bases much of his thesis on a statement of Rabbeinu Yona. He adds that the only Leitzanus that is ever permitted is when its purpose is to restore honor to that which it is fitting.


Orchos Tzadikkim, at the end of Shaar Hashtika, has a quite extensive explanation about the various types of Leitzanus. See here.

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    Can you provide a summary?
    – Yirmeyahu
    Commented Feb 21, 2012 at 6:58
  • Here is an English translation: books.google.com/…
    – Dave
    Commented Feb 21, 2012 at 15:09
  • (the missing pages there are just the Hebrew text.)
    – Dave
    Commented Feb 21, 2012 at 15:09
  • @Yirmeyahu - the above was meant for you.
    – Dave
    Commented Feb 22, 2012 at 5:29

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