A guest came to our Chabad House to celebrate the birthday of his friend, a regular Shabbat congregant. The guest approached me during the meal after services, saying he was going to be speaking at his congregational dinner honoring their rabbi and his wife, and did I happen to know any jokes about a rebbetzin?

“Are you kidding?” I replied with a straight face.

“Oh, right . . . got it, completely off-limits. Plenty about the position of rabbi, but none about his other half.”

Very funny. LOL.

We bantered back and forth as heAre rebbetzins taboo? offered some examples of jokes that had “funny” lines about the rebbetzin—she has a sharp tongue, is hypercritical or often smothering—though the laugh always falls on the rabbi. His hilarity is filtered through her incisiveness.

Did you know that there are no outright jokes about a rebbetzin? (Is she simply sitting behind the mechitzah?) Are rebbetzins taboo?

Yeah. Kinda.

Besides the obvious culprit of real or imagined (or mixture of both) misogyny for the dearth of rebbetzin jokes, I feel there must be a better message in here somewhere. So here’s my take . . .

For a moment, let’s pretend that it is a forgivable offense not to be the butt of a joke, and let me explain how I think this is indeed humorous. Not funny in the laugh-out-loud-kind of way, but more of a subtle, knowing chuckle.

My mother-in-law—a student and teacher of Kabbalah—always warns us before going deep into one of her explanations. Whether it’s about figuring out which school is best for my child or why the roses are not smelling as good as they did last season, she gets to the heart of the matter. So, here I am, warning you that what started off as a joke is now going deep.

According to Kabbalah, everything visible to us in this world is a reflection of its spiritual source up on high. To put it plainly, what we see down below is sourced up above. When we go about our day delivering food to the homeless or helping a neighbor clean up her flooded basement, our physical act of kindness has its source in the supernal attribute of kindness that flows from G‑d. Kindness doesn’t begin down on earth and make its way up to heaven; quite the opposite is true.

All in all, there are 10 heavenly sefirot (or “attributes”) that make up the totality of what we experience socially and emotionally down below, as human beings. Anything you might feel—love, joy, exhilaration, bonding, strength, victory, wisdom, understanding, sincerity—emanates from G‑d’s table. The main difference between the source of the attribute and the way it is recognizable to us is in its potency. Love from above is filtered before it become a dispensable energy form. When we finally do get to express love, it’s usually diluted with our own complementing attributes of strength or fear, and sometimes even further modified with a dose of equanimity.

We intimately know about our own contracting process . . . the way we manage our strong personal feelings and how we calm them down, how we function with an equilibrium.

But how does G‑dly energy make its way from its essential state to the All of the important parts of life get filtered through the feminine practical one we receive inside our bodies? That process is through the feminine attribute called malchut, “royalty.” The feminine energy is what filters the entire cosmos of expression. In reality, until all of the sefirot pass through malchut, they are but the potent potential of their expression. Love up above is filled with potential; it is only through the feminine energy of malchut that love is filtered into the practical feeling I can then express with a kiss on my child’s sweet cheek.

Here is what I found amusing. No overt jokes about the wife of a rabbi? This is but an earthly expression of something Divine. It’s like a cosmic joke. All of the important parts of life get filtered through the feminine. And so does our humor.

The rebbetzin is no laughing matter—not because we don’t have a sense of humor or enjoy a good chuckle, but because in essence, all women and femininity are the embodiment of G‑d’s royalty. So when you think that a woman seems aloof, reserved or private, what you are really experiencing is her regal nature, her comportment.

And in that way, well, I guess we are off-limits. No joke.