Remembering “Honorary Jew” Robin Williams OBM
When I checked the news this morning and read that Robin Williams had died, the first thing I did was cry.
The second thing I did was remember a famous story that appears in the Gemara.
In the story, Elijah the Prophet walks through the town market with Rabbi Berokah, and explains that two men standing in the market are assured a place of honor in the World to Come.
Curious, Rabbi Berokah wanted to find out what was so special about them.
“What do you do?” Rabbi Berokah asked them. The men said, “We are jesters, and whenever we see people who are sad, we entertain them and cheer them up.”
Even though, it turns out, Robin Williams himself suffered off and on from depression for many years, one of his top priorities in life was always making us laugh. In 1989 Williams explained why: “You look at the world and see how scary it can be sometimes and still try to deal with the fear. Comedy can deal with the fear and still not paralyze you or tell you that it’s going away. You say, OK, you got certain choices here, you can laugh at them and then once you’ve laughed at them and you have expunged the demon, now you can deal with them. That’s what I do when I do my act.”
My his memory be a blessing. We’ll miss you Robin….