This week we read Parashat Emor. This parasha includes different topics related to mourning and grief and to happiness and celebration. It opens with a warning for the priests, the Cohanim, that they shall avoid impurifying themselves by being in contact, or even being close, with a dead person (that is why, by the way, Cohanim until today avoid going to cemeteries, unless it is for the burial of a close relative.) Parashat Emor ends with a long list of the biblical festivals, setting up a happy tone for its ending.
What can we learn from the fact that sad and happy topics in our parasha come one after the other? According to Rabbi Menachem Baker, author of the Midrash and Chasidic commentaries compilation Parperaot Latorah, we can learn that real life is like our parasha. We all experience bitter and sweet moments, sometimes one right after the other. The lesson we always need to have in mind is that we must never give up when we are experiencing sad moments because happier times could be around the corner. Such is the nature of life.