Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Humor is Vital

Saturday (10/6) I co-officiated Heather and Brian’s wedding with my good friend, Father Milt Raybould, in Carrollton, Texas. Here are the remarks I shared with them and their guests at this intimate wedding:

Heather and Brian are such a fun couple! They don't take themselves too seriously. They find humor in challenging situations. They brighten a room when they walk into it. Is it any surprise that this is the first of 160 brides I have officiated for who actually tried her hand at standup comedy.

Now, some people might make light of the importance of comedy. (See what I did there?) The Jewish tradition though does not. The Talmud recounts a story of a sage who encountered the immortal prophet Elijah in the marketplace. The sage asked Elijah if he could tell him of all the people there who surely had a share in the World to Come. Elijah pointed out two people in the crowd and disappeared. The sage approached the two, and he asked them who they were and what they did. He surely expected them to tell him of their great learning or marked piety. Not so. They told him that they were just two people who possessed a good sense of humor. They explained that they would walk through the marketplace, and whenever they would see someone who looked sad or despondent, they would cheer that person up, maybe tell a joke or two, and leave the person in good spirits. And this was apparently why Elijah and by extension God had thought so highly of them.

This is, in my opinion, one of the deepest stories in the Talmud. It reminds us how important it is to increase happiness in the world, how helping people through fun can be so valuable, and how vital humor is to every human relationship.

Heather and Brian, in the ways you interact with each other and with the world, you show us this is a lesson you know already. So continue to exhibit a playful spirit, continue to have fun with each other, and continue to bring happiness into the world. Through this you will inherit your share not only in the World to Come, but in the hearts of your friends and family.

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