Our sages have told us that we should say 100 blessings each day. It creates an “attitude of gratitude” and there is so much to be thankful for. We begin the day with “Modeh Ani” — I am thankful! Then we have a blessing for every different thing that we eat. Throughout the day we may see things or hear things that we can say a blessing for and don’t forget the blessing each time we go to the bathroom: We thank God for “fashioning the human body in wisdom, creating openings, arteries, glands and organs, marvelous in structure, intricate in design,” and we acknowledge that “should but one of them fail to function by being blocked or opened, it would be impossible to survive and to serve You. Praised are you, Adonai, healer of all flesh, sustaining our bodies in wondrous ways.” What an amazing prayer and truly amazing concept.
Yet, usually when I tell students about this prayer, I get laughter. How can we laugh at a blessing? Then I remember that laughter is also a wonderful way to show gratitude. Early childhood educator Deb Curtis in her book “Really Seeing Children” writes this:
“Research shows that children laugh approximately 200 times a day, whereas adults laugh only 15-18 times. People who laugh more are healthier, experience less stress, are less likely to be depressed, and may even have an increased resistance to illness or physical problems. The children seem to be on to something that we adults have lost…”
Maybe we Jews have this part right as well. We say 100 blessings every day and we have Jewish humor for every occasion. Curtis goes on to say: “My observations of children support the research that shows that laughter is less about humor and more about creating social connections, where people build feelings of camaraderie and pay close attention to each other.” Humor and blessings keep us thankful and alive throughout our history! Let’s keep laughing — got any good Jewish jokes?