Laughter heals. For that which we can laugh at, can no longer hurt us.
Actress and author Carrie Fisher, who recently passed away, may God rest her soul, once said: “If my life wasn’t funny, it would just be true – and that is completely unacceptable.” This coming from a woman whose father left her at 2 years old. A woman who suffered from a lifetime of drug addiction, was diagnosed as bi-polar, and once was committed to a mental institution where she did not sleep for six days straight. Regardless of the slings and arrows life threw at Miss Fisher, there was one thing she never lost: Her sense of humor about herself. She was a wildly funny writer and comedienne, with a wit that rivaled the likes of Dorothy Parker and Oscar Wilde. She found ways of turning her maladies into comedies, poking fun at herself and her life, in everything from a series of books to a one-woman stand up show on Broadway. For Carrie Fisher, the funny perspective was the only one worth having.
I mention this because this week’s portion is one that I believe urges us not to take ourselves too seriously – a tall order, even for the most spiritual among us. The story of Bo contains the three final plagues that Pharaoh endured because he would not set the Israelites free. The literal translation is one that has been a subject of debate among Biblical scholars for centuries, as it infers the Creator was playing a joke with Pharaoh. … A joke? A joke in which the likes of locusts, frogs, insects, and hail wreaked havoc upon an entire nation of people? How could such disasters be referred to as a joke? Thankfully, the Zohar sheds some light on the matter, revealing that Pharaoh is a code word for our Ego, the Desire to Receive for the Self Alone. The Creator “playing a joke” with Pharaoh is an indication for us, that we are not to take our ego too seriously.