Why does Yitzchak's name mean to laugh if he represents gevurah? Gevurah is something that is restrained and hold back. And laughter is something which breaks out of the chains and feels more free.

  • Once I read on chabad.org Parshah in-depth that his name derived from Sarah's laughter as she received the news that she would bear a son at her advanced age.
    – user16556
    Commented Apr 27, 2020 at 10:49
  • Side note: In Yitzchak's story, the root \צחק\ not only refers to Sarah's laughing at the angel's words that he will be born and her saying "everyone will laugh for me". It is also used to refer to Yitzchak flirting or being more intimate with Rivka (Bereishis 26:8 sefaria.org/Genesis.26.8 ) Commented Apr 27, 2020 at 13:28

1 Answer 1


R. Matis Weinberg discusses this topic at some length in his Patterns in Time: Rosh Hashanah (Chapter 4: the Humor of Din) as well as in Frameworks on Genesis (6: He Who Laughs Last).

His thesis is that laughter is a response to the incongruous and inappropriate. And gevurah/din is all about recognizing the boundaries and limitations of what is appropriate, and acting to restore the situation if those boundaries are crossed.

To quote R. Weinberg directly:

Din’s power derives from nothing other than a definitively discriminating sense of humor!

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