1) Nshei Newsletter Tammuz 5776

It’s Okay to Laugh, Seriously...

A book by Gitty Stolik that will make us laugh and—even more important—tell us why we need to laugh.

Gitty Stolik’s aspirations in life never included writing a book, until a phone call from a childhood friend changed her mind.

The caller enthused about a certain teacher in her daughter’s modern Orthodox Jewish school.The teacher understood that girls love to laugh more than they love to learn. His life lessons, delivered with gentle humor, were indelibly etched into his students’ psyches. And, the friend continued, “The brilliant teacher is your mechutan...”

This epiphany—that humor can be used in a holy and powerful way, with lifelong effects—was too important to keep to herself. The next morning, she jumped out of bed at an unearthly hour to plot the chapters of a book on humor, laughter and joy.

The seeds for this book were planted over 20 years ago, when her son brought home a simple, 8 1⁄2 x 11 blowup of an excerpt from the Lubavitcher Rebbe that she’d pinned on the wall of her home: “The thing that was not yet done to bring Moshiach is the proper avodah [service] of simchah, joy. The way to bring Moshiach is... through increasing pure joy. Try it and you’ll see [that it works]” (Ki Seitzeh, 5748).

The seed just lay there, buried in a file cabinet after it had become tattered with the passage of time. Hadn’t everything about simchah already been said? But now, with the phone call she had received, Gitty had made a remarkable discovery— humor and laughter are two powerful generators that can sustain joy and keep it humming.

It’s true that the Rebbe urged us to publicize this message many years ago, yet we still remain in this imperfect world. She was propelled by a sense of urgency.

Following the Rebbe’s directive to share this message about simchah, Gitty wanted the book to appeal to the widest audience possible. Judging from the feedback since the book, It’s Okay to Laugh, Seriously... was published in September 2015, it does seem to be touching the hearts of a broad spectrum of people.

It has already undergone a second printing and been labeled a best seller by Mosaica Publishers.

Shaindy Kappel, founder of Aneinu (International Tehillim Organization) shares her excitement. “I picked up the book thinking it would be a funny book but after reading just a few pages, I had to recalculate. I soon realized that it’s not a funny book but a very serious one! But the jokes helped lighten the heaviness. I laughed and shared them with the family.

“For 12 years I organized the weekly Aneinu shiurim and never had anyone explain simchah like this. There were new concepts in the book as well as powerful tools that I had never been exposed to.
“What is the message I took from the book? Simchah has to be learned and it can be learned. Author Gitty Stolik doesn’t pooh-pooh the nisyonos, she addresses them on a practical level. But the challenges have nothing to do with our simchah. Simchah became real to me—I found that an amazing aspect of the book. We just parrot the word but it’s a real thing. In fact, it’s the greatest gift we can bring into a home.”

Elisheva, an older single, expounded on a line she saw in the book: “Jumping for joy is a good exercise.”“I also feel like jumping for joy, because in all honesty, I sometimes have a nagging and recurring thought and feeling that I find Yiddishkeit devoid of humor and reason to laugh. “Often when I might find myself alone or in need of mental/emotional stimulation, the only kosher avenue I can think of is that of listening to a shiur online or reading a Jewish book, which I don’t always have much time to do; but to be honest I tend to find it all a bit too intense and serious, certainly not mood-lifting. “Many avenues of stimulation would conflict with the values I stand for, and this leaves me often very frustrated. I don’t always want to hear about all these heavy topics... sometimes I just want to laugh! And I want to enjoy being frum. So to hear someone draw emphasis on the value of ‘laughter and humor’through the prism of holiness is a prayer come true.”

From Sandy, who is growing in her Torah observance: “What a great book! I have to say my favorite part was what makes G-d laugh, because although laughter certainly makes burdens lighter, looking forward to being able to see the burdens themselves as funny is something I’ve often wondered about and now look forward to, and knowing that G-d is getting joy out of seeing our dedication in the midst of struggles makes them meaningful.”

Lieba Rudolph, blogger ( and frequent writer for, writes: “I savored every page like a gourmet spiritual meal. I never thought much about laughter. I just know I love to do it and I love to make others do it and now. I know why! There is so much wisdom and knowledge inside, it is practically a reference book on simchah. Wherever we are on the laughter continuum, this book is a light yet solid resource for enhancing true joy in our lives, the joy that will hasten our ‘last laugh’ with the coming of Moshiach—seriously!”

And that’s what Gitty Stolik wants the book to be--an agent to help spread the Rebbe’s message that simchah will get us out of galus. Don’t we all want to get out of galus?


It’s Okay to Laugh

It’s Okay to Laugh
Gitty Stolik
Mosaica / 242 Pages

It’s Okay to Laugh is a book that explores the importance of humor and laughter in Judaism. Reading like an inspirational self-help guide (likely by an author with a positive dose of well-channeled hyperactivity) we are treated to sources on joy, smiling, humor, and laughter from throughout the corpus of Torah literature.  There are also excerpts from medical professionals and others on the importance of humor. It is well spiced with real life stores and events where laughter can and should be infused.

Some of the topics covered are how to use humor, the benefits of humor, humor in the workplace, and humor in the classroom. There is also material on when jokes are not appropriate, and an especially interesting section on how our mind responds to various types of humor in various situations. A number of modern day frum comedians and merrymakers make an appearance in the book, as well.

The author successfully drives home her point that humor and laughter is an intimate part of Jewish culture, and an essential part of a Torah lifestyle. I can sure name a few sourpusses in positions of leadership andchinuch in the frum world who should read this book. No joke!


Gitty Stolik, author of "It's Okay to Laugh... Seriously," was inspired by the connection the Rebbe made between joy and the redemption.
By COLlive reporter

Gitty Stolik, a Crown Heights-based writer on Jewish thought and lore, says her new book about laughter was inspired by an insight from the Rebbe she was not familiar with.

"The thing that was not yet done to bring Moshiach is the proper avoda (service) of simcha, joy," the Rebbe said in 5748. "Not (only) those things that lead to simcha but the simcha itself, and the simcha will bring Moshiach. The way to bring Moshiach is... through increasing pure joy."

A more recent epiphany sparked Stolik, editor of Our Vogue, a publication on the values of modesty for women and girls, to write this book now, over 25 years later.

An acquaintance was giving her an enthusiastic report about a Lubavitcher teacher in a modern Orthodox Jewish school who uses humor so ingeniously that his life lessons are indelibly etched into his student's psyches.

Stolik says she never thought of humor and laughter as having 'holy power.' "Humor and laughter would make joy much more doable," she says. "What a remarkable discovery -- sustainable joy! This was a message worth sharing. And so the book was born."

Titled "It's Okay to Laugh... Seriously," the book argues that humor and laughter are kosher, even holy aspects of Judaism. It offers useful tips and tools to do so with empowering stories, real-life anecdotes, thought-provoking quotes and laugh-lines.

The 245-page book published by Mosaica Press and distributed by Feldheim Publishers, the book is said to be a fun read, with lots of humor. "It will give its readers plenty of reasons to keep them laughing after they close it," Stolik says.

"Our joy and laughter will not only improve our daily lives, but will fulfill a grander objective," she says. "Our humor will not only redeem us from those tight spots, it will help us break out of galus. Imagine -- a foretaste of the future and a forward jump into it through the Divine world of humor, laughter and joy."

Stolik acknowledges that it's easier to laugh when things are good. But it's even more important to laugh when it comes harder. She point out that the Rebbe's message about "pure joy" came some 6 months after his wife, Rebbetzin Chaya Mushka Schneerson passed away.

The book has been receiving acclaim from all who reviewed it.

Yitta Halberstam, co-author of the Small Miracles series, says "The book is a witty, refreshing and highly appealing case for more humor in our day-to-day existence."

Rabbi Dr. Abraham J. Twerski, a prominent psychiatrist and author of over 60 books, commented that the book "provides us with the means to overcome the hurdles [of life] and …make our lives productive and even enjoyable."

Stolik says the involvement with her writing project has deepened her own capacity for joy. "I am learning to see the redeemable spark in every moment," she said. "Joy and positivity are success boosters for my work with my students, counseling, speaking and most important – for my everyday life."

The book is available in Jewish bookstores and on

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