Trivia experts recognize it immediately as the line that resulted in the longest recorded laugh in radio history. “Your money or your life” was the choice given to Jack Benny, famous for playing the role of a miserly character on his then nationally famous show, by a mugger who accosted him. When Benny didn’t respond, the mugger repeated his question. After a long silence followed by a third demand for an answer, Benny replied, “I’m thinking, I’m thinking” — and the studio audience exploded with lengthy laughter that has not had a parallel since.

How humorous to imagine that anyone can actually require time to consider which one (money or life) is the more appropriate response. And how tragic to realize that all too many people, when confronted with the very same decision, make the wrong choice and pick money over everything else that gives real meaning to their lives.

On the simplest level, the irony of life is that in our youth we give up our health for the sake of wealth so that in our old age we can use our wealth to try to recapture our health.

Written by Rabbi Benjamin Blech: The article was edited and condensed for this web site.

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