Robert Alper is a Jewish rabbi and veteran stand-up comic who has performed over 2,000 shows in a variety of venues. In this sprightly work, he shares 32 stories keyed to the passages from Ecclesiastes where there is a time for everything: a time to be born, a time to plant, a time to kill, a time to heal, a time to build up, etc.
How does Alter's comic perspective show itself in these tales? He demonstrates a patient acceptance of the foibles and short-comings of human beings. He takes the long view that everything is in God's hands and yet we all have something to contribute to the repair of the world.
In a story about his hospitalization for a serious operation, Alter reflects on the salutary and healing powers of laughter. However, with a double hernia, he is unable to laugh from the belly. Nonetheless, the author notes:
"Humor, laughter, it turns out, is much more than pleasant diversion. It's much more than entertainment. Laughter is life-giving, life-affirming, and increasing its incorporation into our lives is a splendid way to enhance our physical and spiritual health."
Alter also covers another side of laughter in a piece on doing comedy shows called "Laugh in Peace" with a Muslim comedian. Shared laughter can be very restorative for those who have suffered prejudice and hostility.