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Two conflicting emotions at the same moment

Rabbi Yakov Saacks, Dix Hills, NY www.thechaicenter.com

Author of The Kabbalah of Life

We know the following empirically; there are times when we have intense happy and positive emotions, and there are times when we feel incredibly sad. King Solomon says it best in Ecclesiastes chapter 3, verse 4, where he states, “For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven: a time to weep, and a time to laugh.” Of course, there are times we cry and many times we laugh. The question is, can they happen together?

The answer is of course, it ensues all the time.

SAD & HAPPY

Most of us have experienced two conflicting emotions at the same moment. A couple of examples would be dropping off your child at college. On the one hand you will miss them terribly, but on the other hand, you are so happy for them and so proud of them. Another example would be marrying off a child. It is a special moment when you walk your child down the aisle. You are elated that your child has met his/her soulmate, and at the very same time you are nervous that all should be well, and that your child’s life should be happy and rich.

ANGRY & PROUD

There are also times when one can be angry and proud at the same time. The principal calls you in and tells you that your child was being bullied, and that he finally had had enough, and he took matters into his own hands. You are angry at the school and at your child for not dealing with this properly. On the other hand, you are proud of your kid for standing up for himself.

DEVASTATED & THRILLED

This past weekend, I experienced something that was new for me. I had two incredibly intense emotions which were completely antithetical. I experienced very intense sadness and at the very same time, there was this elation and joy that enveloped me. As a person whose emotions are usually very compartmentalized, I was keenly aware of this conflict raging inside of me. It was unusual to say the least, and I have been regurgitating it over and over.

THE PARADOX

This past weekend I had a great time attending, rejoicing and dancing at a celebration in Nassau County. I saw many of my nieces and nephews that I have not seen in a while due to the fact that they live in other states or countries. We laughed, hugged and embraced each other. It was so great to see everyone.

The celebration was the wedding of my late sister’s husband, a widower who married a widow who also experienced recent premature loss.

On the one hand, it was extremely painful for me that my baby sister who died just over a year ago is really gone, and her husband needed to move on with his life. On the other hand, I completely support his decision to remarry post haste as soon as the year was over, as my sister passed suddenly, leaving two young kids at home with only their father. These pure children deserve a mother to nurture them.

So, for every tear of sadness that sprung from my eyes, I felt an equal tear of happiness as well. This was a tremendous celebration. Two good people who lost their spouses found each other, and their respective kids have a home where both a mother and a father reside. I believe that my sister can now breathe a spiritual sigh of relief that her household has stabilized.

WEEP & DANCE

This got me thinking. Have I ever experienced such a dialectic before? I soon realized that I have also lived through the second part of King Solomon’s thoughts in verse 4 which I mentioned at the beginning. Solomon concludes the verse with these powerful words, “a time to mourn, and a time to dance.”

A couple of years ago, three weeks before my daughter’s wedding my father passed away. I was out of town and I remember having to run back for the funeral. At the time, I was less focused on the passing and more concerned as to how this would affect the wedding. Once I realized that the show must go on regardless of circumstance (unless the wedding conflicts with Shiva), I could then get back to my task at hand to bury my father, and prepare for the auspicious day.

Three weeks later I did experience the double whammy. Whilst standing under the wedding canopy, I reflected that while my father is attending this celebration in spirit, he missed being here physically by just a few weeks. Like the wedding I recently attended, my daughter’s wedding had both tears of joy and tears of sadness.

ONLY HUMAN

I think these dual emotions are what sets apart, among other things, a human being from all of the other life on earth. We are able to process this paradox and dialectic, whereas no other creation can. Perhaps, this is what is meant when it is written that man is created in God’s image. Emotions can be felt by all animals whether pets or wildlife. To have these emotions arise and technically conflict at the very same moment is unique to us.

In many ways I have been enriched by my experiences, pain aside.

Please feel free to share.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

About the Author
Rabbi Yakov Saacks is the founder and director of The Chai Center, Dix Hills, NY. The Chai Center has been nicknamed by some as New York's most Unorthodox Orthodox Center.
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