I needed a sure-fire way to keep me from ruining my son’s Bar-Mitzvah. When a Jewish child reaches the age of 13, he or she is “called up” in a synagogue to stand in front of their community, and take on certain adult responsibilities. This rite of passage is a very big deal. For my son Craig’s Bar-Mitzvah, there were over four hundred people present to participate in prayer and to watch Craig, for the very first time, become a “son of the commandments.”
My Bar-Mitzvah boy had dress rehearsal the Thursday night before. Siblings, grandparents and parents – that would be me, came together to learn our parts in the worship service, and to get (professional) family portraits taken. After faking it for the camera, we did a walk-through of the upcoming big night. At the part where I’m supposed to say a few words about how wonderful my baby boy is, I completely lost it. I didn’t just get choked up… I was heaving, I was crying so hard.
I came home that night and called my ha-ha funny cousin Julius. I told him to be prepared. When I was up at the podium, the night of the Bar-Mitzvah, I would look for him. He should do something that would make me laugh, so I wouldn’t cry.
This is what happened. Craig began chanting his Haftorah, and the tears welled up. I found my red-haired cousin front and center. He had a giant grin on his face and an open pants zipper, with only one finger sticking out, wiggling a little hello. His obscene gesture at a very holy moment, was exactly what I needed to regain my composure and enjoy one of the best nights of my life.
Whether it’s a random act of funny or a planned stunt like Julius concocted, laughter can elevate your spirits and bring you closer to those around you. As a keen observer of relationships, I’ve noticed, the happiest couples are the ones who can make one another chuckle. In fact, if it were up to me, I would insist that the chuckle test be given to every commitment-bound couple.
I’ll take it one step further. You have a sacred commitment with the Divine. Why not apply the chuckle theory to your prayers? Too often, I talk to people who think that prayer is something you pull out only at times of desperation. They recite very serious, boring prayers in a language from another age; and they wonder why their worship experience is not fulfilling. Don’t keep wit out of your prayers. Your personality is who you are. Share it with the One who knows you best.
- Susan Diamond