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"A Day Without Laughter is a Day Wasted"   -Charlie Chaplin 

10/20/2021 04:35:44 PM


Rabbi Kelly Levy

“…so Sarah laughed inwardly…” (Genesis 18:12).

In this week’s Torah portion, Parashat Vayeira, Abraham and Sarah learn that they will soon become parents. At the ages of 90 and 95. Honestly, if I was Sarah, I would have laughed, too! It’s hard to imagine doing anything strenuous at the age of 90, let alone have a baby.

And so, Sarah did what was most natural to her in that moment: she laughed. According to the text, God did not appreciate this laughter and questioned Sarah’s behavior. Many commentators view Sarah with an exceptionally negative lens because of this episode, but completely disregard that Abraham had the exact same reaction just one chapter before: “Abraham fell flat on his face and laughed, thinking: ‘Can a child be born to a man of 100? Can 90-year-old Sarah bear a child?’” (Genesis 17:17). Not only does God ignore Abraham’s laughter, God answers his question!

When I think of this section, I am frustrated by the double standard Sarah is held to, but also amused that laughter is considered such a terrible expression. Afterall, laughter is one of the most beautiful sounds in the entire world. We laugh when something is funny, or when something happy occurs, or even when we feel uncomfortable and don’t know how else to respond. But, like in the situation with Sarah, sometimes laughter can offend another.

Recently, my 5-year-old said something so brilliant and awesome that I laughed. I can’t remember what she said, but it was so great that my happiness overflowed into laughter. She immediately became upset because rather than understanding that I was happy, she thought I was laughing AT her. I tried my best to explain that, just as tears allow us to express our sadness, laughter helps us to express happiness. That, I wasn’t laughing at her, I was laughing in joy as I thought about her creative mind. Like any 5-year-old, she quickly moved on. But, it made me think about laughter and the important role it plays in our lives.

We need more laughter. We need more moments of releasing our emotions and letting happiness and joy take over the moment. Laughter helps us to lighten the mood. It provides a rush of endorphins and increases our oxygen intake, making us feel good, making us feel better. Laughter is one of the best medicines in the world!

While it may sometimes come out in awkward ways, or in awkward moments, laughter is key. Let’s bring more laughter into the world. That way, we can really bring a smile to our faces, and hopefully others as well. Wishing you much laughter in the week ahead!

Wed, February 21 2024 12 Adar I 5784