| Parshah |

Laughing Matters

Olam Hazeh is kiveyachol Hashem’s costume


“…and they rested on the fourteenth and made it a day of feasting and joy” (Megillas Esther 9:17)

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he Sefer Hayetzirah states every month has a different prevalent koach hanefesh. Adar’s power is laughter, appropriate for Purim.

The Gemara in Rosh Hashanah (10b) discusses a machlokes between Rav Eliezer and Rav Yehoshua about when the world was created. We rule like Rav Yehoshua that creation started on the 25th of Adar. Since the dominant power of Adar is laughter, is this the underlying power of creation? Is This World one big joke?

Furthermore, we say in Tehillim (126:2): “Then our mouths will be filled with laughter.” But that’s referring to some time in the future, not to the present time. Is Olam Hazeh really a place of unbridled laughter?

Are laughter and Purim for the future or now?  (Rav A. Weinberg, Kol Yisrael)

It was not the best of times, it was the worst of times. I was in aveilus for my father z”l. A year had never seemed so long nor so bleak. My life’s landscape lay in sepia tones, and petty problems loomed like formidable feats.

My internal barometer used to measure high in fun and flights of fancy, but now it had taken a plunge. I thought I’d never recover.

I was driving to Yerushalayim to meet a friend for coffee. She too was in aveilus; misery wanted company. Only someone as morose as I could mull over the moodiness of mourning. Even the weather seemed melancholy. Gray rain spattered my windshield and dead leaves swirled as I exited the highway into the city. Then came to an abrupt stop in bumper-to-bumper traffic. Just. My. Luck. One more mess-up in a miserable morning.

A friend of mine told me he once dressed up for Purim and went to shul, expecting to receive compliments on his costume. But no one reacted. His costume was so cleverly designed, he was unrecognizable. Suddenly, in the middle of banging for Haman, a friend of his burst out laughing, finally recognizing him.

Olam Hazeh is kiveyachol Hashem’s costume. He disguises Himself in nature. We go through life thinking events occurred because of certain efforts or accomplishments. In reality it’s all Hashem’s orchestration.

Ten minutes later I was still creeping, inch by agonizing inch. Gas. Brake. Gas. Brake. Ahead of me was an Egged bus, and its bright green color seemed to mock my mood. Gas. Brake. Gas. Brake.

Then, in one of those did-that-just-happen moments, I crawled forward a millimeter in the millisecond the bus rolled back a millimeter. Crunch.

They must make Egged buses out of retired IDF tanks. Despite my slow speed, the hood of my SUV folded like an accordion. I stared in disbelief.

But before I even had a chance to register the enormity of the situation, the driver of the bus came running toward me, screaming about the damage I’d caused his bus. Excuse me? He’d flattened my car and dared discuss his damages?

I rolled down my window to defend my smashed dignity, but was immediately accosted by a slew of verbal abuse, questioning my driving ability, my nationality, even my sanity. His vehemence was scathing. I lost it.

I began to laugh. So hard. And so heavily I could scarcely breathe. The more I chortled, the angrier he got. The more he fumed, the harder I laughed because the situation was ludicrous.

“How dare you? What chutzpah!” His words were steaming, but I was wheezing in mirth. I hadn’t felt this good in months.

Realizing he was dealing with a lunatic, he pulled out his phone and began snapping pictures. “You’ll pay for this!” he growled as he pulled away.

In the future we’ll review everything that occurred in Olam Hazeh. At that point we’ll begin to laugh recognizing: Oh! It was You, Hashem, all the time. What a great disguise! That’s why Olam Hazeh was created with the power of laughter.

I limped to the mechanic and life went on. But my mood had shifted, allowing me to see past my pain towards what to gain. Even when a bill came in the mail from Egged, I couldn’t help snickering as I pictured the scene again. There was no point in fighting the charge. He had photos while I had hysterics. And besides, despite the hefty sum, it seemed worth every penny for a good lesson in life’s perspectives. It’s my mind that determines my mood.

(Originally featured in Family First, Issue 683)

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