Keep laughing…says Rabbi Michoel Gourarie

August 2, 2013 by Rabbi Michoel Gourarie
Read on for article

The Talmud relates that the great sage Rabbah had the following practice.

Rabbi Michoel Gourarie

Rabbi Michoel Gourarie

When he lectured in Talmudic law he would always begin with a joke, causing the students to laugh, after which he would continue with a serious presentation of in-depth analysis of Jewish Law.

Sometimes public speakers use this technique in order to gain everyone’s attention and focus. However for Rabbah that was not necessary, as his students were dedicated scholars ready to receive his teachings with full concentration. Why would Rabbah need his disciples to laugh at the beginning of each lecture?

Our sages tell us that “Simcha (joy and happiness) breaks through walls”. We all possess symbolic fences and barriers surrounding our minds and hearts, creating our inhibitions and making us scared to grow and change beyond our comfort zone. When we are sad and our mood is down, these walls are strengthened. Our positive energy and vitality is drained from our system, causing us to slip into apathy and complacency.

But joy can tear these fences down. When we are upbeat, positive and in a happy mood we become more flexible and confident, willing to test fresh ideas, challenge old habits, engage in new and improved behaviors and grow beyond our comfort level. In times of intense joy and celebration our inhibitions disappear and our minds and hearts are unblocked, ready to soar to new heights.

For Rabbah, dedicated students were not enough. He wanted them to be creative and grow in their learning by thinking beyond their natural ability. He wanted them to ask challenging questions and think of alternative ways to approach the material. Laughing at the beginning of class opened their minds to think more broadly.

Personal growth, change and human development can only happen in the context of optimism, joy and an upbeat mood. Keep laughing – it breaks through walls.


One Response to “Keep laughing…says Rabbi Michoel Gourarie”
  1. Lynne Newington says:

    Dear Rabbi Gourarie,
    I think it will take more than laughter to break down the walls surmounting Israel at the moment.
    What a conflict of emotions for all those who have fought and lost loved ones making it a safe place to live.
    I wonder what Golda would be thinking.

Speak Your Mind

Comments received without a full name will not be considered
Email addresses are NEVER published! All comments are moderated. J-Wire will publish considered comments by people who provide a real name and email address. Comments that are abusive, rude, defamatory or which contain offensive language will not be published

    Rules on posting comments