How to laugh at pain

Posted by on Sep 24, 2006 in Blog, Inspiration, Philosophy | 0 comments

It happened after the Romans destroyed the Temple. The sages were going up to Jerusalem and saw a fox coming out of the ruins of what was once the Holy of Holies. They began to weep. The looked over at Rabbi Akiva – and he was laughing.

“Why do you laugh?” they asked. “Why do you weep?” he replied.

“We stand before the holiest place in the world, where only once a year, on Yom Kippur, the high priest alone was allowed to enter, and now foxes are strolling through it – and we should not weep?”

“And that is why I laugh. Now that I have seen that the prophecy of doom uttered by our prophets has been fulfilled in all its tragic detail, I know that the prophecy of goodness will be fulfilled in its splendor. What I see here is that one day the words of Zachariah will be fulfilled: ‘Old men and women will yet sit in the plazas of Jerusalem…boys and girls will yet play in its streets.'” The sages turned to Rabbi Akiva and Said: “Akiva, you have comforted us. Akiva, you have comforted us.”

– The Talmud, tractate Makkot 24b

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