Clown’s face - Purim arrangement with Hamentashen, Gragger, Funny glasses and a red nose
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Clown’s face - Purim arrangement with Hamentashen, Gragger, Funny glasses and a red noseOn Purim, it’s a mitzvah to be happy, which sparks the question: How do you turn on happiness with a flick of the switch? It also gets you wondering the age-old question about what came first — not in terms of poultry this time, but happy people. Were they always smiling, which made them happy? Or are they naturally happy, which made them smile more?

Either way, one tried-and-true method to be happier is to “fake it till you make it.” Find things to smile about and hopefully it will stick around and make you feel happier, too.

Do you have little ones in your life? They might test your patience, but other times they’ll crack you up with their wit and wisdom. The other day, I was thinking aloud about my dinner plans and my 2-year-old dissolved into tears, saying, “But I don’t want veggies … I want vegetables!” (Conveniently forgetting she doesn’t like them, whatever they’re called.)

Then there was the time Raizel answered Binyamin’s question with “Ani lo yodeah” (‘I don’t know’ in Hebrew), which frustrated poor Binyamin, who complained, “That’s not fair. You know I don’t speak Spanish!”

If there aren’t any kids around to bring you a smile, are there siblings? I still tease my sister, who, when she was a teenager, asked me to send her something in the mail, with specific instructions to “make sure to write ‘par avion’ on the envelope… I don’t know what it means, but it goes so much faster than air mail.” She didn’t believe me when I told her par avion meant “air mail” in French!

That same sister got injured a few years ago and really smashed up her wrist after slipping on black ice while taking out the garbage one winter night. (She has refused to take it out since.) She told me that after her injury, a warning was texted to all in her New York area that “12 injuries have occurred in the last 10 minutes because of the ice.”

“Did you hear that?” I said to my other sister Miriam. “Brocha’s a statistic!”

“I know,” Miriam said. “Brocha was always very good at math!”

No one else around to laugh at? Sometimes you just have to laugh at yourself. Many, many moons ago, when I was working at my first secretarial job, one of the techs was checking if the fax machine was working at a different location. He asked me to fax a piece of paper.

“Can I write on it?”

“Yes, but don’t write anything inappropriate or embarrassing.”

So naturally I wrote “anything inappropriate or embarrassing” on a paper in large letters and, cracking myself up, promptly faxed it through … only it turned out I didn’t quite know how to really use the fax machine and had sent it through the wrong way so they only saw the faint words backwards! Ooops!

Even when you make a mistake like that, if you’ve made people smile or laugh, how can it be all bad? I’d say it’s worth it, get your jollies, go ahead, laugh … And then spread the smiles and laughter, because it’s Purim and it’s a mitzvah!

Hope you have a very happy, smiley Purim!

Rochel Burstyn
Rochel Burstyn

Rochel Burstyn


Want to make people smile this Purim with some delicious hamentashen? Check out Hooray For Hamentashen – Zingerman’s Bakehouse.