There is an incident in the Avodah Zarah tractate concerning a blasphemous joke Rabbi Eliazer overheard and derived pleasure from. This sin, according to the Rabbi himself, resulted in his wife and daughter being sold into prostitution. The thing is, the joke is pretty funny. Is its inclusion in the Talmud not a sort of "stumbling block before the blind", laying in wait for poor Yeshiva students? I myself have been unable to go more than two weeks without thinking about the joke and having a good laugh since I first read it.

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    Uh, I don't see a joke there, rather, an (undesirable) explanation from a student of Yeshu. – ezra Aug 21 '18 at 3:51
  • The follower of that particular false messiah is saying it with a straight face, sure, but in the end it's a joke, at least from our point of view. If you don't think it's funny, good for you, you'll forget about it quickly – Josh K Aug 21 '18 at 3:56
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    I don't see it as a joke at all, but I have not forgotten about it - however the idea is that you should keep yourself from thinking the interpretation is pleasing, no? – ezra Aug 21 '18 at 4:02
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    Perhaps it's more of a "bon mot". I believe your analysis of what we're supposed to do with this tidbit is correct. – Josh K Aug 21 '18 at 4:11
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    One important difference is R'Eliazer should have avoided the source - an apikorus. We don't have to avoid the source for us - the Talmud Bavli... – user15253 Aug 21 '18 at 11:50

I think the point in those sugyas is that it was untenable for such a tragedy to befall a completely righteous person. So reasons were offered to justify their intense torture. Pronouncing the ineffable name even in a situation where it is allowed, taking pleasure in a min's words etc.

But these are things that very much lifnim mishuras hadin, applicable when Hashem treats his close ones extremely strictly.

Common folks don't get punished for these things. We get punished for the real sins we do. And I assume most people who are on the level to get punished for these types of sins wouldn't get pleasure from that line, considering it's source.

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  • I know I'm nowhere near the level of tzaddik to get punished for this. But am I sinning by finding it hilarious? There is a certain pleasure therein, after all – Josh K Aug 21 '18 at 19:09
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    Josh K I can't say for sure. All I'm saying is that there are certain things that are explained as being a sin for a certain person on their level, not for us on our level. For instance Yosef asking the sar hamashkim to remember him is described as being a lack of faith in Hashem 'on his level', a regular person would not have been punished for that act. – user6591 Aug 21 '18 at 20:09

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