No Fooling!

The precise origins of “April Fools’ Day” cannot be known. Maybe it began as some sort of pagan festival, or it was the result of the Catholic church switching up the calendar in the 1500s. Either way, for the last three centuries it has been the favorite holiday of every prank-pulling clown and jokester around (In the age of “fake news” and “alternative facts,” I’m sure the tomfoolery has only gotten easier).

Truth be told, there is always a nearby fool who can be suckered. A chump or stooge, some schlemiel whose more than willing to have the wool pull over his eyes. The Hebrews have a word of warning about such people: Avoid them at all cost. King Solomon gave notice like this, “It is better to meet a bear robbed of her cubs than to confront a fool caught in foolishness.”

In classic, contrasting style you have option A and option B; choose Door #1 or Door #2. There are no secrets, however, as you can clearly see what you are getting and what you are getting into. And if you must choose between a “fool in his folly” or a furious mamma bear separated from her cubs, the bear is the better option.

I grew up in “bear country,” forests populated by the American Black Bear. It was common to encounter them along hiking trails, mountain roads, in my own backyard, and once a juvenile took a bounce on my neighbor’s trampoline. One had to be cautious and circumspect, but rarely was there ever a problem. “Leave the bear alone and he’ll leave you alone,” was the usual advice.

The only time to worry was in the event of getting between a mother and her cubs. All bets were then off, as this otherwise gentle omnivore could transform into a raging bowling ball of teeth, claw, and brutish power. Possessing the strength of five men and with speed bursts rivaling a race horse, no one can withstand her destructive jealousy. And when faced with a fool, Solomon explains, wrestle the bear.

A fool, in the biblical sense, is a terrifying monster. More than one who “lacks good judgment,” or “one who is easily deceived.” In the Hebrew Scriptures a fool is someone who is “heavy,” someone who is immoveable. He is so dense and obtuse that his course cannot be changed. Thickheaded and stubborn, a fool refuses to “get it,” to learn, or to accept needed correction. In the words of Hebrew scholar William Wilson, “the fool has a weak mind but confident expectations.”

What should you do if you meet such a person? Avoid him. Don’t date him, go into business with him, move in with him, work for him, or recruit him to your team. Coming nose to nose with a moron hell-bent in his foolishness, some thick-headed numbskull who will not be deterred from his doltish course of action, will only leave you mangled along the trail – and that’s no fooling.

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