A Better Life may be Around the Corner
By Rabbi Rami Pavolotzky
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.
When we are having good times, it is natural to think that something bad can happen any time. Even when we are happy and we are enjoying our time, we know that things could change rapidly (maybe that is why people buy insurance!) The opposite is not usually true because when we are experiencing hard times, it is difficult to see the light at the end of the tunnel. People who have difficulties tend to feel depressed and think that things will always be the same. When you are having a hard time, sometimes it is difficult to be positive and hope for the best.
Our parasha suggests that after a time of mourning there comes a time for celebration, meaning that we should never lose our hope and patience when we are going through a difficult time. Life changes, and things can always get better for us if we know how to wait. We should see life as a whole, as a story that bring sad and happy moments. And especially when things are going bad, we should remember that our luck can change any moment. Like in the parasha, we should only wait for one more verse when we have a sad one, the verse that brings a positive turn!