Jewish? You Must Be Joking! the Jewish Take on Humor

35 Pages Posted: 28 Jul 2009

See all articles by Linda Weiser Friedman

Linda Weiser Friedman

Baruch College, CUNY - Zicklin School of Business; CUNY - The Graduate Center

Hershey H. Friedman

City University of New York - Department of Business Management

Date Written: July 27, 2009

Abstract

Humor is the lingua franca of the Jewish people. Even outside the world of the professional comic, we find ordinary folk answering a question with a question, employing a sarcastic retort, offering self-deprecating witticisms. For Jews, this special brand of humor has become a defining characteristic, marking their uniqueness among the peoples of the world. This paper explores this oeuvre, first looking at Jewishness itself; then theories of why we laugh, from the field of humor studies; and finally the humor of the Jewish people. Jewish humor is not new; it dates back to the Talmud, the Midrash, even the Hebrew Bible. Humor, after all, is not only medicine for the body; it is good for the soul as well. In examining what a people laugh at, we come close to learning what they value. The material in this paper is excerpted from a book manuscript in preparation about the ancient origins of Jewish humor.

Keywords: Jewish humor, Humor, Talmud, Humor studies, Jewish studies, Jewish tradition, Religion studies

JEL Classification: B30, B31, I2, Z00, Z10

Suggested Citation

Friedman, Linda Weiser and Friedman, Hershey H., Jewish? You Must Be Joking! the Jewish Take on Humor (July 27, 2009). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1439936 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1439936

Linda Weiser Friedman (Contact Author)

Baruch College, CUNY - Zicklin School of Business ( email )

17 Lexington Avenue
New York, NY 10010
United States

HOME PAGE: http://cisnet.baruch.cuny.edu/friedman/

CUNY - The Graduate Center

365 Fifth Avenue
New York,, NY 10016
United States

Hershey H. Friedman

City University of New York - Department of Business Management ( email )

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