Holy Comedians (Truma)
Comedy is an escape, not from truth but from despair; a narrow escape into faith. -Christopher Fry
God gives Moses extremely detailed instructions as to the construction of the Holy Tabernacle, the portable Sanctuary in the desert, the physical manifestation of God’s abode on Earth. The Tabernacle would become the center of the Israelite camp during their wanderings. Only when King Solomon builds the Temple in Jerusalem do the Ark of the Covenant and the other holy articles and rites receive a permanent home.
The description of the Tabernacle which Moses receives is so detailed that it even includes the composition of the hides that would be used on the outer walls. In Hebrew, this particular type of hide is called a “Tachash,” for which there is a debate as to exactly what type of animal it was.
The Berdichever sides with the opinion that the Tachash was not a particularly nice or attractive hide. However, he draws an unusual corollary to the fact that the Tachash hide was a bit rough.
He states that while the Sanctuary walls were not so nice on the outside, the inside of the Sanctuary was beautiful. The parallel he makes is to jokes. A joke can be at times rough, even a bit surprising (the element of surprise is often what we find comedic). However, making some (appropriate) fun and having a laugh, loosens up the audience and makes them much more receptive to deeper, more meaningful and more inspiring content and messages. The rough exterior leads to a beautiful and important interior. Just as the rough Tachash exterior of the Tabernacle led to a beautiful inner reality, a funny joke can lead to beautiful inner discussions.
There is a famous Talmudic story of a great sage who was informed that his future neighbors in the afterlife were in the area. Curious, he went to seek them out and was surprised to discover that they were a couple of comedians. He finally understood that even though they weren’t great sages or learned men, they had tremendous merit because of the great joy and happiness they brought to people.
May we always be among those who make others smile, laugh and be filled with joy.
To Randy B. who always makes me laugh.