Shavua tov, everyone. Does life sometimes feel like a mirage? Have you ever wondered if you are really seeing what your eyes appear to be seeing? If seeing is believing, then is nothing lost in translation between sight, vision, perception and belief?
What did Avraham actually see on the plains of Mamre, sitting still in pain from his circumcision. The language is unclear. He saw three men standing over him – and he also ran towards them, implying some distance between them. Here? Or there?
The language then becomes hurried, in a frenzy of preparation of cooking and slaughtering, of kneading flour and making of cakes (probably pita-like cakes). And as the strangers began their meal, they asked after Sarah. The news they brought changed the course of history – Sarah would bear a child. And famously, she laughed at the thought, though immediately denying she had laughed at all.
If what we are told is beyond our ken, a distance beyond our imagining, beyond our capacity to see, we too might laugh in disbelief. The abyss between what we think is reality and a miracle of possibility is sometimes explained away as a cosmic joke!
Humour is often a study of juxtaposition – what is understood as opposed to what is. Perhaps why so many comedians have been Jews – or why so many Jews have become comedians! Freud considered Jewish humor unique, in that its self-deprecating humor, Jews mocked themselves rather than the more powerful “other.”
A fraction of distance can provide the essential comedic spin. Minority groups – however defined – are often derogated as “not having a sense of humour” often while they are being reviled. Women famously, especially feminist women, were often characterized as devoid of humour.
To challenge traditional authority structures apparently requires a straight face. Which brings us back to Sarah and millennia of Jewish humorists, traditions of linguistic punning and the Catskills. Humour keeps us alive. Sarah laughing at the very thought of a pregnancy courteous of her old one (Avraham), provides us with Biblical foundations for laughing at what we cannot believe. Yet.
Stay well, stay safe everyone. Be a mensch and remember to laugh.
Love to all,