In trying times like these, with near-constant news of more bloodshed on the streets of our cities, people often look for inspiration. Here’s hoping that the following personal story helps, even if only in a small way.

If I had to think back on the hardest things I’ve had to do during my 33+ years of life, one moment stands out above the rest. On June 25, 2003, I had to dance at my father’s wedding. We had buried my mother just over two years prior. That night, my brothers and I were tasked with the positive mitzvah of “making the bride and bridegroom happy on their wedding day”. Of course we were happy for Dad and Judy. But there was also so much pain missing Mom, of blessed memory, who cancer took from us way too early. Yet, through tears, I danced. Through tears, we MADE ourselves happy. And we WERE happy. And there WAS simcha that night at that wedding.

Though one cannot possibly compare or equate a “natural” death to a killing or murder, there is certainly a connection between the type of emotions experienced when a loved one is no longer with us.

The entire nation of Israel stands at a crossroads right now. On the one hand, we are in mourning at the loss of those sweet innocent souls whose flames were brutally extinguished in incomprehensible acts of evil. Yet, at the same time, starting tonight, Hashem has commanded us to be happy.

Indeed, we must remember that we are not allowed to engage in private or public mourning on our Jewish Holy Days. Moreover, we must adhere to the dictum of being happy on the preordained “Zman Simchateinu” (Period of Our Happiness).

On this Simchat Torah, Hashem has given us a great challenge and a great opportunity: to be happy.

Through tears, we must dance. Through tears we MUST make ourselves happy.

We cannot let Him down.