Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Laughter Builds Character

The name that God commanded Abraham to give Isaac after his birth was Yitzchak, which comes from the Hebrew word meaning laughter. However, it would appear to be a contradiction to Isaac's primary character trait - gevurah, or strength of character - to be named after a word related to humor. Rabbi Gedaliah Schorr solves this apparent contradiction by commenting that in order to develop a high caliber of character and self-restraint, a person must be able to laugh at all the difficulties and obstacles they will encounter throughout their life.

To take this idea one step further, I believe that one of the greatest gifts God gave us was a sense of humor:

Aside from the anthropomorphizing of God (as I like to say: anyone who eats, sleeps and goes to the bathroom is not God), the moral of this comic is well-taken. If you're religious, it's very easy to get caught up in all the difficulties of leading an observant life and become overwhelmed. And for almost everyone, it's quite likely to be going through some serious financial or interpersonal problems right now. Yet there is a way to turn that difficult situation into one of character-building. Look for the absurdity in the situation. Find the levity. And laugh. While it may not solve the problem, it will make it a whole lot easier to get through it.

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