Simcha Breaks The Barriers

Simcha Breaks The  Barriers

Can you remember the last time you had a thoroughly hearty belly laugh?  You know, the kind that has you laughing so hard you feel as if your sides could split?  Maybe glimpses of these moments are stored in the archives of your memory bank and that’s where they stay. Perhaps your life has become so serious that you’ve actually forgotten how to laugh or sadly, you look at the world around us and just don’t find much to laugh at. In fact, you may even believe that laughter is frivolous and for those of lightweight character.

If this sounds like you, then think again, because there is nothing shallow about laughter. Laughter may be the single most important ingredient to a healthy life, on many levels. Just ask Dr. Norman Cousins who discusses in his book, The Anatomy of an Illness how he laughed his way back to health after being diagnosed with a terminal illness. Numerous medical studies indicate that laughter and joy boost the immune system and are essential to emotional and mental well being.

In a sicha from Shabbos parshas Ki Seitzei 5748, the Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson,  tells us, “Simcha breaks through all barriers, including the barriers of exile and has the unique potential to bring about the Redemption. This joy will surely lead to the ultimate joy, the rejoicing of the Redemption, when our mouths will be filled with laughter (Psalms 126:2).” The question is: how do we generate more joy in our lives and break through barriers?

Lets take a closer look at the nature of laughter. For infants and children, laughter is an organic, universal response to the sheer joy of being alive. Just watch an infant cooing and giggling spontaneously in the crib. What is a birthright for youngsters requires a far more sophisticated trigger mechanism in adults. An examination of laughter shows that what causes us to laugh is an improbable juxtaposition of opposites. When a process moves in one direction and then suddenly and unexpectedly changes to its opposite, laughter is generated. It’s this SURPRISE element that comedians use all the time as one of many techniques to generate audience laughter.

On an even deeper level, the juxtaposition of extremes is the root of spiritual laughter and is the meaning of Az ye’malei s’chok pinu – “then our mouths will be filled with laughter”. When the world is turned upside-down at the Redemption, the “true” or spiritual laughter will be the cosmic response to real change. We somehow sense that this is not as things are supposed to be and the deepest response to that will be laughter.

These ideas of Redemption, or geulah apply to our own personal lives. We need to break all of our personal barriers that keep us stuck in old limiting patterns. As an improvisational comedy actress I recognized that at the heart of comedy improv lie skills for more joyful, elevated living: the art of taking risks, allowing for possibilities to open up in your life, the belief in transcendent assistance and getting out of your own way. Comedy requires a spirit of fun that insists a person come out of themselves, breaking barriers and inviting more joy and possibility into life. Where there is less of you, then there’s more room for Hashem!  Reclaim your G-dly state of sheer joy,
sidesplitting laughter and plain ole’ fun!

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