Holy Silliness

From the teachings of Rebbe Nachman of Breslov

Holy Silliness
December 23, 2016 Ron Caras

Are you joking? No, really, are you joking enough? Did you laugh yet today? When is the last time you really laughed? I’m going to tickle you, but whatever you do, don’t laugh.

That one always gets my little kids. They, too, will go to all costs to get a laugh out of a sibling or out of me. And when they succeed, they will do the same silly thing over and over again until it is really not funny anymore. They do it because they love the life-giving infusion that they get when we all have a good laugh.

“It is impossible to be happy except through silliness.” This was the answer that Rebbe Nachman gave to one of his followers. Rebbe Nachman was explaining that joy is crucial. “When a person is happy, then it is easy for him to put aside time to discuss with G-d everything that is weighing on his heart. But, when a person is sad, depressed or anxious it is difficult for him to really talk to G-d.”

After which, his follower challenged him, “Being happy is more difficult than any other spiritual practice!”

It was to this challenge that Rebbe Nachman responded that the only way to truly achieve joy, is through silliness(1).

“It is impossible to be happy except through silliness.”


What does silliness accomplish? Acting a little outlandish is the only way to let go, to diminish the ego, and to connect to the lightness, and simple sweetness of being alive.

The great Tzaddikim always had and still have badchanim- jokesters, at their sides, because they knew the power that silliness and laughter have to keep them real and to keep them happy. The Sages in the Gemara would begin a Torah class by telling a joke, in order to infuse their students with the joy that would make them more receptive to learning. Rebbe Nachman talks about humor in several of his stories(2) and in other teachings. He warns about hurtful humor, and explicitly states three conditions that make silly fun kosher; it must not hurt others, nor be crass or obscene in any way, and it must not be self-aggrandizing.(3)If the humor is kosher, then the laughter is holy.

Acting a little outlandish is the only way to let go, to diminish the ego, and to connect to the lightness, and simple sweetness of being alive.
Humor is built into creation. Hashem wants us to be happy, and even wants to make us laugh. Our most serious day of the year, on which we do nothing but fast and pray, Yom HaKippurim, literally means, Yom Ki-Purim, “a day like Purim”, which is our holiday of costumes, comic plays and wine feasts. Hashem is constantly planning surprises in the form of Divine irony in the story of our lives.

King David, our most beloved, powerful and wise king, is also called, in the language of the Zohar– “בדחא דמלכא,” The Jokester King. (4)When the Holy Ark was finally being returned to Jerusalem, King David not only went out to escort it, awarding it immense honor, he also “leaped and danced with all of his energy before it.” His flipping and dancing were so outrageous that his wife, Michal, was totally ashamed and chastised him, saying “Your behavior does not befit a king!” The Torah sees her as being in the wrong, and she was punished for her response.

King David knew what he was doing by dancing wildly for the honor of Hashem. He was real, he was humble, and he was silly. The Mashiach will come from the progeny of King David. In describing the days-to-come, the Pasuk in Tehillim says: “אז ימלא שחוק פינו” Then our mouths will be filled with laughter. Because then, when G-d lifts up the curtain on this stage called ‘life,’ with a Messianic “Ta dah!” We will see His Infinite Love, wearing the director’s hat, and it will hit us. He was behind every moment of our complex life stories, and wove each detail into a unified tapestry which integrates the entire globe, and the millions and billions of people who ever lived, seamlessly into His Oneness. He was even more intimately involved then I was. You know how we will respond to that moment? We will have a good laugh. “אז ימלא שחוק פינו, our mouths will be filled with laughter.” (5)

Not G-d forbid, a mocking laugh, like the winy Ralph Wiggum, “stamp collection, ah ha.” Rather, a holy laughter, a healing laughter.

May we be blessed to truly hear this advice of Rebbe Nachman, to let the stiffness of our outer-shells, which have been calloused from a lifetime of struggle, to soften, as we reconnect to the sweetness of childhood alive within us, step out of our image-oriented ways of relating and do something utterly ridiculous, a little bit absurd and a tad silly.

Humor is built into creation. Hashem wants us to be happy, and even wants to make us laugh

1. Sichot HaRan, 20
2. The Humble King
3. Siach Sarfei Kodesh, 2:1-13 /Contrast Ha’hosofot 31
4. Zohar, Part 2, page 107
5. Tehillim 126:2

Please note: We spent much time and effort to bring the inspirational teachings of Rebbe Nachman of Breslov as accurately as possible in this article. If you find any mistakes in translation or have trouble understanding the article, please let us know! Feel free to comment below.
We bless the viewers to be connected to Rebbe Nachman and to his teachings, and to always be happy and inspired…

YES, give me 3 tips to help spreading  joy & spirituality!  🙂

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