Laughter and tears

Elizabeth Hersh is Senior Rabbi at Temple Emanuel. 

By Rabbi Elizabeth Hersh

Robin Williams has died. The outpouring on social media is overwhelming. There are messages of appreciation for his years of service to the entertainment industry. Like Bob Hope he traveled to bring a smile to the faces of our service people overseas. There are posts with warning signals of depression and suicide. There are words of sadness.

While I believe in the genuine feelings of devastation, I also read into these messages an ounce of self-serving gratitude. People are expressing how sad they are; they profess the years of laughter Mr. Williams honored us with.

Yet, who was there for this man when he was sad? Who made him smile or laugh? When he expressed his times of trouble, how did the world react? 

We often look at superstars and ask how can they feel depressed when their earnings and fame exceed our dreams? Who wouldn’t be thrilled with big houses, followers and your name associated with success?

Who is there for the famous when the lights are dark and your name is no longer in lights? Who is loyal and who will happily sell your story to the press? Are you only as successful as your last movie? What is the real price for fame?

Yes, we are sad. However, obviously not as sad as the one who really needed to laugh. He was laughing through the tears.

Rest in peace, Robin Williams.