Sukkot is here and with it, as I shared earlier this week, z’man simchateinu – our time of happiness. But, the Las Vegas shooting has filled us with sadness, anger and many other emotions that are making it hard to focus on happiness. During Sukkot, we read Ecclesiastes which teaches us that there are set times to feel the various emotions of life: “Everything has an appointed season…a time to break, a time to build….a time to weep, a time to laugh, a time of wailing, a time of dancing…” But, life really doesn’t work this way. We’re not usually given time to just feel happy or just feel sad. Like now, we often find ourselves feeling many different emotions, good and bad, simultaneously.
The great Israeli poet, Yehuda Amichai writes in A Man In His Life:
A man doesn’t have time in his life
to have time for everything.
He doesn’t have seasons enough to have
a season for every purpose. Ecclesiastes
Was wrong about that.
A man needs to love and to hate at the same moment,
to laugh and cry with the same eyes,
with the same hands to throw stones and to gather them,
to make love in war and war in love.
And to hate and forgive and remember and forget,
to arrange and confuse, to eat and to digest
takes years and years to do.
A man doesn’t have time.
When he loses he seeks, when he finds
he forgets, when he forgets he loves, when he loves
he begins to forget.
Certainly, there’s enough going on in our world today to elicit negative emotions. While we’re taught in Psalm 126 that “those who sow in tears will reap in joy,” science teaches us that in order to truly thrive, we need to feel, live and immerse ourselves in positive emotions. While doing so might seem impossible these days, science teaches us that not only is it possible, science gives us ways to cultivate moments of deep meaning that fill our lives with great happiness – even while we struggle with the challenges of life.
Join me this Wednesday night at 7:00PM as we explore the Science of Happiness. We’ll be joined by Dr. Neal Mayerson with whom I was fortunate enough to learn during my sabbatical. Dr. Mayerson is the founder of the VIA Institute on Character and a nationally recognized expert in the field of Positive Psychology. Neal has taught me that Judaism contains many of the same lessons that are intrinsic to Positive Psychology. As such, I’ve come to appreciate that science and our tradition can, if we embrace them, empower us to lead happier lives. And we all deserve to lead happier lives. I do hope you’ll join me on Wednesday. Please note: that if you plan to attend the class, I would like you to take the VIA Character Survey. To do so, please click here; make sure to enter our code – RSHN84 – on the Demographics Page. If you have any questions, please let me know.
I hope to see you tonight for our Shabbat & Sukkot Celebrations – our Young Family Service begins at6:30PM and our Main Service is at 7:30PM. And don’t forget to join us for Simchat Torah (the holiday where we joyfully dance with the Torah Scrolls) on Thursday night at 6:30PM with Yizkor at 6:00PM.