Translation by Yehoshua Siskin
I’ve heard of the call to “Strengthen yourself through Torah” and to “Strengthen yourself through prayer”, but to “Strengthen yourself through humor”? Rav Gershon Edelstein is 97 years old, among the Litvak religious leaders, and one of those who have taken the hardest line regarding coronavirus restrictions. He was born in the Soviet Union before the Second World War, was orphaned from his mother at a young age and learned Torah in secret under the oppressive Soviet regime. In nearly one hundred years of life he has seen the world at its highest and lowest points.
When he was asked for his advice for the Sukkot holiday, which is called “the time of our rejoicing,” his answer included the word “humor” several times as he emphasized that there must be an atmosphere of good cheer at home:
“Because of the current situation there are definitely hardships and we need to carefully observe the restrictions in place, but we can still make certain that an air of pleasantness prevails. Humor. To always include humor and to avoid a serious demeanor. To create a pleasant, humorous atmosphere. Not silliness, but humor. An atmosphere of joy.”
How simple, but not so simple. May we Strengthen ourselves through humor.