Having A Bad Day?

Looking Up
If your life is anything like mine, then you have good days and bad. Days when you feel like G-d is on your side and days when nothing seems to go right. When you are in the midst of a full blown bad day, you just want to go home and pull the covers over your head. If only we had that luxury . . . Yet, the Torah comes along and tells us there is no such thing as a bad day.

Yes, yes, yes. We’ve all heard it many times and guess what, we are going to hear it again. You know why? Because it’s the truth. It’s the old salesperson mindset: If you make one of ten sales, then each failure is ten percent of a success. Every salesperson knows it, most believe it, but only the best practice it. Same for the rest of us. We all know that bad days are precursors to good days, some of us actually believe it, but those who make themselves think this way—they get ahead.

Making Camp
The Torah tells us that a cloud hovered over our ancestors in the desert. When the cloud spread out over the camp, they would settle down and make camp, when the cloud lifted, they would get ready to journey on. Then the Torah makes an anomalous statement. “For the cloud of the Lord was upon them . . . in all their journeys.”

These are actually the closing words of the book of Exodus. One usually pays close attention to closing words and indeed, Rashi, the famed Biblical commentator, wondered aloud when he read these words. The cloud wasn’t upon them in their journeys, the cloud was upon them when they made camp. The Torah should have said, “in all their settlings.” What message is the Torah teaching by using the wrong word? And, if these are the last words of the book, the message must be related to the entire book.

To answer this question we must first pose another question.

We call it the book of Exodus, but in fact the book begins with enslavement. It is true that most of the book deals with the exodus and its aftermath, yet shouldn’t its name imply at least a little suffering? We might have answered that the name Exodus was chosen because it covers most of the book, but with its final words, the Torah tells us different. The name choice covers the entire book.

If making camp is followed by a journey, then indeed the camp is part of the journey. You don’t call it down time, its all part of the up time. Included in the journey are periods of rest. Those aren’t lulls or reversals, they are part of the journey. If the down is followed by an up, its part of the up.

If the suffering in Egypt weren’t followed by a redemption, it would have justified a separate name. But since it was followed by a redemption then in retrospect the suffering is part of the exodus. You can’t have an exodus if there is nowhere to exit from. Their time in Egypt was part of a process that led to a miraculous exodus. It was an integral and necessary part of the journey.

The Torah thus concludes the book of Exodus, a book that describes the entire story, including the bondage, with the name Exodus, with the words “In all their journeys.” Had Torah written “in all their settlings”, we would have missed an important message. By calling the settlings journeys, we are taught that settling down is part of moving up.

Bad Day
There are days when things work well, those are the good days. Then there are days when nothing works, we call it a bad day. The Torah tells us they are all good days. They are all part of the journey. Just like you need to rest in order to journey on, so do you need to have a “bad day” in order to have good days. What we call a bad day is just a necessary lull before the storm of goodness picks up again.

Some days were meant for achievement, effectiveness and success. Other days were meant to be slow, plodding and unexciting. These aren’t failures. They are just days with a different mission. They weren’t meant to be upbeat days. They were meant to be slower; a time to gather momentum, courage and strength for the better days ahead.

Salespeople know that they wouldn’t have enough time in their day to process all their sales had everyone said yes. When they get nine no’s, they view it as nine reprieves from getting up and filling an order. When they get the one yes, they are primed and ready to go; more than happy to take care of business. The lull sets them up for the sale and is, in retrospect, part of the sale.

In retrospect we can all see that, but the trick is to see it in the moment. We all know these feel good techniques, but putting them to work is a whole different story. When we are frustrated, it is difficult to pull ourselves together and make something special out of it. When we are handed lemons, its hard to think of lemonade. But just because its hard, for all of us—not just for you dear reader, doesn’t mean it isn’t true or effective. Indeed, those who do tap into this truth regularly, are the most effective.

May we soon herald the coming of Moshiach and experience the day that will make all days good.

About the Author
Rabbi Lazer Gurkow, a renowned lecturer, serves as Rabbi to Congregation Beth Tefilah in London Ontario. He is a member of the curriculum development team at Rohr Jewish Learning Institute and is the author of two books and nearly a thousand online essays. You can find his work at