Positive Judaism: Embrace Jokes and Wisdom for Better Living

Darren Levine: Humor relates directly to positive of Judaism because humor is one of the 24 strengths in the category in the inventory of strengths and characteristics. We know that humor, which makes us laugh and we desire to be around people who are funny because it raises our senses of positive emotion, and that adds a lot of value. The U.S. Open and Yom Kippur generally fall during the same season of time. Yom Kippur is the day of forgiveness. It happens in the very early fall and the U.S. Open happens in the late summer to early fall and it just so happened that one year the men’s final and Yom Kippur happened on the same exact day. And so this child said to his father, “Dad, you know I can’t miss the U.S. Open. It’s the most important tennis match of the entire year.” And the father said, “Well, that’s what video recordings are for.” And the child said, “You mean we can tape Yom Kippur?” 

We can always choose to live with a pessimistic mindset. A lot of people ask: Judaism and positivity, can they sync together? And they can, despite the fact that individuals have faced anti-Semitism and oppression and there have been many times in Jewish history, like the pogroms when Jewish individuals and Jewish communities were oppressed and that is true for lots of different groups. But at the core of religious thought it is about resilience and it is about hope, it’s about joy, it’s about positive living, it’s about spirituality, deepening relationships and seeking to have a positive impact on one’s life, on their community and their family and in the world.

Hatikvah is the Jewish national anthem. Hatikvah means ‘the hope’ and at the core of the Jewish mindset for 3000 years has been hope. I’ll tell you a story about hope, which is attributed to the Maggid of Dubno. Maggid of Dubno tells a story of a king who had a perfect diamond and the king loved this diamond and he would marvel at this diamond every single night. But one day he dropped this diamond and when he picked it up he noticed that there was a crack from the crown to the base of this diamond and the king was crestfallen. He called out to all of the master craftsman in the entire kingdom to come and see if they could repair this, but one after the other said to the king, “King, once a crack is in a diamond it cannot be repaired.” Days later a very humble jeweler came to the palace gates and said, “I would like to see the diamond.” And the king welcomed him…

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