I have to contact a rabbi in the Bronx, the northernmost borough of New York City (and actually the only borough of five in NYC that is connected to mainland United States). The rabbi, a wonderful spiritual leader and down-to-earth person, officiates at a congregation named Sons of Israel.

As I type his name, shul name and number into my cell phone, I realize with a jolt that I have mistyped "Dons of Israel." And suddenly I have this laughable image in my mind, of a tough guy, Mafioso rabbi. Not polite, eh?
So I delete what I have tapped into my pesky phone, and retype. This time I almost hit "save" when I realize I had typed in "Cong Sins of Israel."

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Oy vey. Which would be more insulting, were it left in my phone-- Dons or Sins? I suppose the world's anti-Semites would have more of a field day celebration with "Sins," right?

Do not panic, I retyped the correct name in after all. Slowly, Carefully. I edited this time. Sigh.

But was I wrong, was it a moral lapse on my part, to derive strong belly laughs from my mistakes? You know, these dopey errors rank up there with the few times I rushed and typed "Rabbit" for Rabbi. What, you never did that before? Believe me, Spell-Check will aid you in this endeavor, at times.

We Jews learned many, many centuries ago that humor can save us. Learning, prayer and humor can be our life preservers. But the humor can be subject to much scrutiny. Would the most pious rabbinical candidate wheeze with laughs at a scathing Lenny Bruce routine? Would he have admitted to such behavior? Would the primmest and most tzniut, modest of rebbetzins laugh loudly at a raunchy Jackie Mason routine? Or a pointed Sarah Silverman joke that makes even the hippest people shudder?

Perhaps they would laugh. In private. Maybe in public, but covering it up somehow. Because sometimes you cannot help but laugh. Something that you see or hear may trigger your laugh, and you can't stop it from bubbling up. Laughter is not always a carefully scripted response; canned laugh tracks are not the be-all and end-all responses to life. Laughter, even inappropriate laughter, just happens at times.

Humor can get us into trouble, right? Is it mere commentary? Is it release and relief from life's woes? Is it a marketing strategy?
It is all of the above, in a nutshell.

Type carefully, my people.

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