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Laughter: Israel’s weapon of choice

Translation by Yehoshua Siskin

On Tuesday morning, I woke up in New York. It was already afternoon in Israel. I looked at my phone and saw tension and suspense. Not from missiles, but from jokes. It’s amazing: the first updates I saw in all my whatsapp and online groups were jokes about the security situation in Israel. “For sale: three sandwiches in excellent condition, just like new” or “If we are already missing school today, why not have elections?” (in Israel, there is no school on election day, and there might be elections again soon). It took me a few moments to understand – on that same morning, a serious missile attack from Gaza began. (By the way, later on a “laughter attack” was launched from reporter Tamir Steinman.)
Laughter is an ancient weapon — still highly effective on today’s battlefield — of us Jews. It’s a weapon fashioned from the ability to see reality from the proper perspective, and not to give reality more credit than it deserves. This week’s Torah portion is full of laughter: Avraham and Sarah laugh when they hear they will have a child in their old age, and even give their child the name Yitzchak, meaning “he will laugh.” This joyful approach to life, with smiles of belief and laughter of deep faith, has sustained us throughout history until today. Rav Shlomo Kook (my husband’s grandfather), commenting on our Torah portion, writes that we must laugh real, healing laughter, as opposed to the fake, wicked laughter of our enemies. It seems to me that this is one of the deepest commentaries on the state of affairs in the Middle East: “The true joy of tzadikim and wholehearted people,” writes Rav Shlomo, “repairs the phony laughter of the wicked. The world longs for laughter that is kosher and authentic. Israel must quiet the wild laughter of Yishmael, a reckless laughter that destroys the foundations of the universe. Israel must accustom humanity to its own laughter of purity and faith, until we reach the day about which it is said, Then our mouth will be filled with laughter and our tongue with songs of joy, (singing) ‘the Lord has done great things for us, (therefore) we were joyful.’”
May we merit to see this day come soon.


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