Laughter Isn't Just the Best Medicine - It's a Mitzvah!
Did you know that April Fool’s has Jewish origins?[i] It’s true.[ii] While best known for issuing his 10th century takanah (rabbinical fix) against polygamy, Rabbenu Gershom also instituted an annual day of pranking.[iii] He reasoned that we, as Jews, needed to obey every biblically-mandated commandment. And, in fact, we had overlooked the mitzvah of laughter.
He based his instructions from the words found in Genesis 18:12--vayitzchak sarah, “and Sarah laughed.” The laughter is so prominent in her life, that Sarah tries to bring it in daily by naming her child yitzchak (Isaac/he will laugh). We, too, should bring that laughter in daily.
We know that Jews have had a unique relationship with humor for a long time. From our unending wanderings[iv] and throughout our endless existence,[v] we have used trauma to deal with our humor.[vi] We have been blessed over the years to see our particular brand of droll self-mockery brought to the mainstream through writers, directors, producers, stand-up comedians, and more. At the ISJL, we didn’t want to miss out on any of the hijinks, so below you can find the links to our “newsletter articles” filled with the no truths, the whole untruths, and nothing but half-truths.
We hope you get some enjoyment and lightheartedness in your life, at least as much as we got writing these notes for you.
[i] It probably doesn’t. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/April_Fools%27_Day#Origins
[ii] It’s probably not.
[iii] He didn’t do the latter.
[iv] They weren’t unending—they were 40 years.
[v] Teeeeeechnically, we’ve existed for 5779 years?
[vi] Yes, I wrote “trauma” and “humor” in reverse order.
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The ISJL Education Team
We're proud to provide our partners with new monthly resources and enrichment to share with your classrooms and communities! If you have newsletter questions or requests, email Education Director Rabbi Matt Dreffin: firstname.lastname@example.org.