The Shulhan Aruch (Orah Haim 560:5) states

אסור לאדם שימלא פיו שחוק בעולם הזה.‏

It is forbidden to a person that he fill his mouth with laughter in this world.

I don't think I've ever met a person that doesn't laugh. Why don't most people follow this Halacha (i.e. what do they rely on)?

  • also says not to play music except for mitzva. but Rav Sheinberg zt'l permits it since people in our times would get depressed – ray Aug 13 '13 at 7:43
  • "zt'l permits" :) – Double AA Aug 13 '13 at 14:38
  • 3
    @DoubleAA "Rashi says" and "the Rambam holds" are very common phrases. – msh210 Aug 13 '13 at 16:38
  • kohelet : a time to cry and a time to laugh – user3180 Aug 28 '13 at 3:04
  • There is a Talmudic expression,[51] "His mouth did not cease laughing all day." Now we cannot accuse the Talmudic sages of laughing out loud (G-d forbid), for the sages explicitly ruled that "It is forbidden to fill one's mouth with laughter in this world."[52] Therefore, the sages' laughter must have consisted of no more than a dimpling of the cheeks. sichosinenglish.org/books/making-chassidim/09.htm – ertert3terte Aug 28 '13 at 3:17

It doesn't ban laughter outright, only "to fill his mouth with laughter". Mishna B'rura clarifies it's speaking of "supernumerary joy". I claim that most people nowadays do follow this halacha.

  • You think most people follow this halacha on purpose or because they never come across such laughter? – Double AA Aug 13 '13 at 5:28
  • @DoubleAA The latter. – msh210 Aug 13 '13 at 6:37
  • You're saying nobody ever gets a crazy laugh in? – Hacham Gabriel Aug 13 '13 at 17:15
  • @HachamGabriel I said most people follow the halacha. Most people follow the halacha banning theft, too. That doesn't mean nobody ever steals. – msh210 Aug 13 '13 at 17:17
  • I've think I've seen different Heterim as well FTR. – Hacham Gabriel Aug 13 '13 at 17:23

Most Rishonim e.g. Talmid Rabbeinu Yonah on the Rif to Berachos understand 'schok' to be pretty much synonymous with joy. This would be very limiting. Rambam's view on the topic is discussed as he doesnt clearly cite this ruling. The Menoras Hamaor (Kadmon) of Ri Alnakawa implies that the whole law is a "midas chassidus" a pious but not mandatory practice. R. Nota Greenblatt, the noted posek of the South told me bluntly that "we dont hold of that Shulchan Aruch" he used the prevalent behavior of people as an indicator that we dont hold of it. THus emphasizing the primacy of psak through minhag over "official halacha." Rather, he seemed to prefer reverse engineering the halacha through the minhag (to a degree).


Presumably based on the verse "אז ימלא שחוק פינו ולשוננו רינה" - only then (when Hashem returns Israel to the Land and the goyim realize that "Hashem has done great things for them") can our mouths really be filled with laughter.

  • So it is impossible to violate the issur? – Double AA Aug 13 '13 at 8:57
  • Maybe it's this: a person violates the issur when he or she feels a full or a complete joy that is undiminished by the knowledge of the exile. Even when our joy is at its greatest, we have to be aware that it is not truly full until the geulah. – Shivaram Lingamneni Aug 13 '13 at 9:17
  • Just the opposite! The Sefarim use this Pasuk to prove that only then we are allowed to laugh. – Hacham Gabriel Aug 13 '13 at 14:38

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