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How To Embrace Hope Amidst Sadness

The 9 Days Before Tisha B'Av and How to Embrace Both Sadness and Happiness

How To Embrace Hope Amidst Sadness

In the first nine days of the month of Av, leading up to Tisha B’Av, it is customary to intensify our observance of mourning rituals to commemorate the destruction of the Temple. This period is considered the saddest time of the Jewish calendar and all activities that bring joy are reduced. The book of Lamentations, which we read on Tisha B’Av, ends on an optimistic note that the sages added: Restore Us, Let us return and Renew our days as of old” Even in the darkest of times, there is hope and room for optimism. Most of us would prefer to be happy rather than sad. Happiness is both a genetic trait and something we can cultivate in our outlook. That’s the good news. But we can’t avoid sadness, as much as we may try to avoid it or run away from it. Both happiness and sadness are part of living and the range of emotions that we feel. If we try to push sadness away and not feel it, we might not feel happiness to its fullest. Just as we know it's light because darkness exists, experiencing sadness allows us to better understand and experience joy. In mindfulness practice, when we notice difficult sensations or feelings, we can visualize them as passing waves or clouds. They come and go, impermanent by nature. We just need to notice and practice focusing on and observing our experiences in the present moment. If we practice long enough, we will recognize that life is dynamic and that while sadness may come and linger for a while, happiness may be just around the corner, waiting for us to let it in.

Shabbat Shalom


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