Beit Midrash

  • Family and Society
To dedicate this lesson

Civil War? Don’t Make Me Laugh!


Rabbi Haggai Lundin

Shvat 5783
We are approaching Purim, the holiday of laughter. Laughter occurs when we are extremely surprised. A baby laughs when someone says "peek-a-boo"; adults laugh at a standup show that presents situations ending with a punch line. The word laughter [tzchok in Hebrew] is a combination of the words "tze [get out] chok [of the law]". There is a framework, there is a law, and we get out of it – which gives us a sense of freedom.

A good laugh is the ability to see things beyond the law, beyond the visible reality. In other words: perspective and proportion. Superficial people look at the here and now; at the current law that seems suffocating and threatening. "The woman of valor", on the other hand, "laugh to the final day" – she laughs at death in its face because she knows that there is a greater eternity that will also prevail over the law of death. The first Jewish child in the world – born against all the laws of nature – was named Isaac [will laugh]; Jewish humor has maintained the Jewish people in difficult times; this is the "reversal" of Purim; this is the hope that it will be good.

It is possible to keep perspective even in the face of the current difficulty. The thought that there will be a civil war in the State of Israel is laughable. Not only from the perspective of the "unity of the soul of Israel", but also from a simple civic understanding: the Jewish society in the State of Israel is small and mixed with blood ties and neighbors that do not allow for civil war. We do not live in distant geographical autonomies like the North and South during the US Civil War, or different ethnic groups like in Syria. Those who threaten to "use weapons" or "the security forces will have a problem deciding whom to listen to" are dreaming. Do you think that a soldier in the Givati Brigade who opposes the reform will shoot at his cousin in the Kfir Brigade who supports it? (And I am not going to relate to the Golani and paratroopers...).

Even those who threaten to "take their money and leave the country" ridicule themselves, forgive my saying so. Those who invest money in the State of Israel today do not do so because of Herzl's beautiful eyes, but simply because this is a flourishing and prosperous country. Where will you go? To Russia? To a crumbling Europe? Or do you think a house is waiting for you in Beverly Hills in the USA?

No one is underestimating the difficulty that lies ahead of us. It is clear that there already are damages – and there will be – from the current tension, but put it in proportion. The State of Israel is strong and has gone through greater crises than these. In the meantime, let’s laugh a bit; Happy Purim!
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