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Humor is the lingua franca of the Jewish people. While the core values of Judaism based on the Hebrew scriptures include such lofty ideals as the pursuit of justice and caring for the weak and marginalized members of society, such as the orphan, widow, and stranger, the Jewish people have also made a major contribution to humor. 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. Humor, after all, is not only medicine for the body; it is good for the soul as well. In examining what people ...

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