We have just concluded the traditional year-long mourning period for the victims of the Mumbai Massacre, and I have a question: Can we laugh yet? Is it acceptable to be silly, to joke around? Is it proper and respectful to resume life as we once knew it?

During these twelve months I participated in memorial services, took part in the international campaign to study the entire Talmud in memory of the murdered, resolved to do an extra mitzvah – and followed up on it – so now what?

I have another question: Is it still okay to cry? Or would that constitute excessive mourning—which the Torah strongly discourages. Is it appropriate to watch footage of the Holtzberg funeral again? To revisit the clips of Moshe Holtzberg's unanswered cry for his ima (mommy)? To replay the story in my mind, like an endless nightmare that offers no respite?

Are we destined to laugh with a limp until Moshiach comes?Is this what King David meant when he said (Psalms 126) "Then [in Moshiach's times] our mouths will be filled with laughter"? That until that time we are destined to laugh with a limp?

I once heard that after the Holocaust someone asked the Rebbe: "What now?" The Rebbe responded: "We must marry and have children."

I hope the story is accurate; I sense its message is. Every day we are summoned to life's endless calls and we have the opportunity to pose the same question: What now?

We can choose death; G‑d places that before us as well. We can align with tragedy, dwell on evil's seemingly inexhaustible ability to wreak havoc on our lives—the newspapers provide abundant ammunition for that. There seems to be comfort in that: expect the worse and you'll never be disappointed...

Or we can accept the challenge of life. "The wise man falls seven times, the fool but once." The fool falls and surrenders, the wise man dusts himself off and goes at it again—only to fail and try once more.

Chassidic teachings emphasize that choice comes from the depth of one's character, from a place beyond what one merely feels or just understands; choice emanates from the core of the soul. Choice is more than the "opportunity to..."—it's the ability to decide to do more than exist, to reach beyond what mere persuasion of the tangible or sensory suggests.

I think it is okay to laugh now. I think so. And I think if we can laugh again we can cry again too—and that's okay too. I think. Laughing doesn't mean we have forgotten or "moved on," it means we have accepted the challenge of being Jewish, of choosing rather that reacting.

And I think if we can laugh again we can cry again too—and that's okay tooThere's a Talmudic story that describes how we can be joyous though we can foresee future sadness. We celebrate a birth, though we know that the child is destined to die one day. The Talmud remarks, "At the time of joy I celebrate, and at the time of mourning I weep."

So let's laugh again, and when it's time for tears we'll cry again—let's have the courage to live. Tomorrow will come, like it or not, so let's make the most of it for the sake of the murdered and for G‑d's sake.