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Laughing brings Joy

By Yifat Levana Rafaeli

In the Book of Creation (an ancient Kabbalistic text), it states that every month of the year has an inherently unique quality. A special energy related to the month which invites us to connect with it. We have just entered into the Hebrew month of Adar and as you may have guessed, Adar invites us to connect through… laughter! 😂

We know that the Jewish people have contributed to the world far out of proportion to our size, in the fields of philosophy, science, invention, the arts, and philanthropy. However, the Jewish people have also contributed to the world some of its best entertainers and comedians. We are a nation that knows how to laugh!

How is it that a people who has suffered so much also knows how to laugh so much? What does a person need in order to bring laughter into the world?

Laughing requires the ability to see reality from a different perspective. Having one foot in this world, the other in a different dimension. Being able to see things a little from above (like those pictures that look like a scribble, but if you step away and stare up from above, a three-dimensional image emerges and suddenly you can’t not see it?). The ability not to be completely absorbed in the illusions that this world creates, and not to take them too seriously, is what allows laughter.

We Jews have the ability to see past reality and expose some of its illusion and that is often very funny. 

The story of Purim at 1st glance is not very funny at all. Here comes Haman, as evil as evil gets, dead set on the destruction of the Jewish people. Every last man, woman and child. At the time, the Jews see only impending doom and death. It is Haman’s voice that calls out to all: the Jews are worthless, they are a danger, they have no purpose or right to exist. No one cares for them, not a god above nor the king below. 

Haman represents darkness, actually, created by the Jews in exile. It seems, indeed, they lost their purpose, had given in to the exile, even celebrating at Ahashverus’ royal banquet while being served from the vessels taken from the Holy Temple after its destruction just a few decades before. Indeed a dark and frightful time in our history. This darkness allows evil to go wild, “flex its muscles.” Haman declares a specific day to kill all the Jews. It is real. No way out! Despair!

But just as we measure cold by the absence of heat, darkness is measured by the absence of light. Shine a little light on it and things start to look different. You can see through it. You get perspective. Haman’s job, as seen from a Kabbalistic perspective, is to provoke the Jewish people to repent, to change and Mordechai and Esther are the ones that focus that change, to find unity, purpose and connection.

Suddenly everything turns upside down. Haman’s character becomes ridiculous, and his plot becomes material for jokes. The light and laughter wash away the darkness as if it never existed.

משנכנס אדר מרבים בשמחה

When the month of Adar begins we increase our Joy. This brings with it so much light that it is able to wash away Haman’s pride and cruelty. As soon as we turned on the light of joy, that demon was gone, irrelevant.

Purim is the story of life. We pray that one day such a light will shine in the world, one that will remove all darkness. Leaving only laughter and joy. Take a step out of your reality, look at our story from a different angle. See the world a little from above, like one big story coming to a happy ending. If you can, let the laughter in and let it grow.

Meir Paltiel
Meir Paltiel
[email protected]

Originally from Syracuse, NY, Meir received his BA in American History and Political Science from Tulane University and his MS in Resource Management from SUNY College of Environmental Science & Forestry. He arrived in Israel in 1992, served in the Nahal Infantry Unit before moving to Kibbutz Sde Eliyahu. On Kibbutz, Meir was Assistant Manager of the... Read More