Emotions and Holidays

This is a post for all of those who have a difficult time on the holidays.

Devarim (Deuteronomy) 16:11 —

וְשָׂמַחְתָּ לִפְנֵי יְהוָה אֱלֹהֶיךָ, אַתָּה וּבִנְךָ וּבִתֶּךָ וְעַבְדְּךָ וַאֲמָתֶךָ, וְהַלֵּוִי אֲשֶׁר בִּשְׁעָרֶיךָ, וְהַגֵּר וְהַיָּתוֹם וְהָאַלְמָנָה אֲשֶׁר בְּקִרְבֶּךָ–בַּמָּקוֹם, אֲשֶׁר יִבְחַר יְהוָה אֱלֹהֶיךָ, לְשַׁכֵּן שְׁמוֹ, שָׁם.

And you shall rejoice before the LORD your God, you, and your son, and your daughter, and your man-servant, and your maid-servant, and the Levite that is within your gates, and the stranger, and the fatherless, and the widow, that are in the midst of you, in the place which the LORD your God shall choose to cause His name to dwell there.

It is one thing to go through the motions of the holiday. It is another to feel like one must experience joy.

This is a song that one often sings on Sukkot or Simchat Torah: Vesamachta Behagecha

This means “You should be happy on your holidays.” You can find a version of this song here.

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So, what does one do with this requirement to be joyful? What if one has difficulty with family, and the holidays bring this up? What if one is trying to have children, and one sees everyone else’s children preparing for the holidays and then celebrating? What if one has difficulty connecting with others, and the idea of close friends seems distant, never mind marriage? What if one is distant from loved ones? What if one has just lost employment, again, and the holidays bring feelings of “how can I support my family?” What if everything is going well for you (externally), but some emotional trigger has kicked off inside of you and all you feel is doom and gloom?

I don’t have answers to these questions, but I did find some nice drashot (speeches? words of wisdom? attempts at words of caring?) on related topics:

Baila had an introspective post, about her parents.

I want to quote one piece of the Rebbetzin’s Husband’s drasha:

We don’t tell people to snap out of it; we listen to them. Yosef didn’t tell the butler and baker to get over their problems, to pull themselves up by their bootstraps, to trust in Gd the way that he did. Rather, Yosef asked them to tell him what was wrong, and – when they were willing to talk – he listened carefully.

Many times all one can do is listen. Advice isn’t necessary; actually, it is often confusing and missing the point. Sometimes the reason it is hard to listen to someone else is because then we have to get in touch with our own pain. And, “ouch”, who wants to feel that?

Wishing you a happy, healthy, productive, emotionally-in-tune New Year. I have one more apple photo that I want to post some time today. I always like to have a photo on the top of the blog, when it’s going to lie dormant for a few days.

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