In the spirit of Purim, I would like to share with you a great quote from American satirist, comedian, writer and actor Stephen Colbert. He says, "Not living in fear is a great gift, because certainly these days we do it so much. And do you know what I like about comedy? You can't laugh and be afraid at the same time — of anything. If you're laughing, I defy you to be afraid."
Laughter appears in the Torah for the first time when God tells Abraham that he will have a child at age 100. Abraham laughs. Until then he was living in the illusion that he could never have children. He was living with a fear that haunted him daily that all his life's work would be for nothing. And then God told him to "rise above the stars," look beyond his fate, not only would he have children but his children would defy the natural order of mankind and become an eternal nation. Laugh!
Isaac's name means laughter. From the Torah's description of Isaac we know that he was, in fact, a pretty serious guy, but his essence is laughter. He was a child born into an impossible situation. He stared death in the face, didn't flinch and, ultimately, lived to tell about it. So his essence is laughter, since laughter is, in fact, the power to see through the surface and understand that there is a deeper reality.
The stories of Abraham and Isaac carry the DNA of Jewish history. With all we have gone through, we really shouldn't be here. But we are alive. We are committed. And we are fighting to regain our identity. And because of that, we have much to laugh about.
Purim is a day of laughter. There is a mitzvah to get dressed up, a mitzvah to drink alcohol until we can't fully control what is coming out of our mouths. How sad is it that so many adults mistakenly think that Purim is a holiday for the children! It is us who live with the daily fears and concerns about our health, our livelihood, our security, our strained relationships, our fading dreams, our struggling spiritual state, our purpose in this world. We need to learn how to laugh.
On all airlines, they make sure to tell us that in case of emergency we must strap on our own oxygen masks before we strap on the children's. We can only teach our children how to laugh if we know how to laugh.
Purim is one of the most exalted days of the year. On Purim, we can reach very high levels in our faith in God. On Purim, we can connect with others in very deep ways. On Purim we can tap into a much deeper place inside of ourselves that we aren't always able to experience. How do we get there?
It happens by listening to the Megillah, by delivering baskets of food to our friends and loved ones, by delivering gifts to the poor and by getting together for the most festive meal of the year. In the merit of the mitzvot of Purim, may our laughter and joy carry us through the year and until the coming of Moshiach.