Posts tagged " emotions "

The Joy of Sadness

March 24th, 2019 Posted by Practical Parenting, Your Mother's Guidance 2 comments

A ‘Your Mother’s Guidance’ post by Rebecca Masinter

Ancient Jewish wisdom draws a connection between two months of the Jewish year that at first glance seem to stand in opposition to each other. We are told:  Just as when [the month of] Av enters, our joy is diminished, so too, when [the month of] Adar enters, our joy increases.

A connection and equality of sorts is made between the sadness of the month of Av, when both Temples were destroyed, and the joy of Adar, when the redemption of Purim took place.  Why?  I would like to share with you a thought I had on this.  Please know that I did not see a source for learning this lesson and I am not saying that this is what ancient Jewish wisdom is trying to teach us, simply, this is what came to my mind when thinking of this saying.

In the last month I have heard from several administrators in different schools that the line they hear most frequently from parents of their students is, “I just want my child to be happy.”  Doesn’t that sound nice?  Of course they want their children to be happy!  They’re not evil people!  But the truth is, if a parent’s goal is for his or her child to be happy, now, in their childhood, they’re  really not doing their best to align their child up for a lifetime of happiness.  In order to feel joy, we also need another part of our calendar cycle to instill in us the feelings of grief and sadness.  We can’t just experience happiness. To feel joy we also have to be open to feeling all the other emotions that are part of the human experience.

It isn’t easy to parent a child who is feeling grief, anxiety, fear, shame, or any other negative emotion, but it is important to let our children experience those feelings, to let them fall and fail but be there with them to help them get up again and process their feelings.  A child who is allowed to struggle and feel negative feelings, will be truly capable of feeling positive feelings of accomplishment, pride and joy.  Adar can’t exist without Av.  They’re related. We need to be capable of feeling each emotion at the right time, and we need to allow our children to experience all those emotions too, with our loving support.  It doesn’t work to say, “I just want my child to be happy!”

We also need to acknowledge how challenging it is on us as parents to help a child work through difficult feelings.  It can take a lot out of us and that’s normal and okay.  The important thing is not to dodge that responsibility because it is too hard or painful but to get ourselves the support we need while we parent unhappy children.  When a child of mine is going through something difficult, that may be when I need to make my life simpler, cut things out of my schedule, and ask for help because the reality is that parenting a child who is suffering is time-consuming, draining, and challenging.  But it is still necessary and valuable.  We have to help ourselves be able to help our children in their good times and their bad times, in the Adar of their lives and in the Av of their lives because we learn to live with joy by also feeling pain.

Feel Your Way to Failure

October 2nd, 2018 Posted by Thought Tools 49 comments

Our society is moving towards respecting feelings more than facts and placing emotions above the rule of law. That road to disaster is blatantly evident in the battle for civilization going on in Washington, D.C. right now.   It is clearly time for us all to relearn the following lesson from ancient Jewish wisdom.

Both individuals and societies can allow emotions to dominate us.  We then invariably  use our heads to rationalize the bad decisions we’ve just made. Alternatively, we can carefully make decisions and then invite our hearts on board to provide needed excitement and enthusiasm. The two ways we can choose to go lead to strikingly different places.


Have a Heart

May 25th, 2010 Posted by Thought Tools No Comment yet



I don’t know about you, but I can look backwards at a depressingly long list of mistakes.  These were bad decisions.  I think of them as forks in the road where I took the wrong turn.


Almost without exception, each one resulted when I rationalized something to which I already felt emotionally attracted.  I allowed my head to collaborate with my heart and once those two ganged up in cahoots, my fate was sealed.


I’ve known people who’ve purchased bad time share deals though they were warned against them by a wise advisor.  Their hearts were seduced by the view and their heads went along for the ride.


I’ve known men and women who have made terrible marriage decisions both in whom they married and in how they went about setting up the relationship’s ground rules.  In each case they ‘fell in love’ and their heads were only belatedly involved.


There is obviously a role for our hearts otherwise God would hardly have implanted emotions inside us.  A person incapable of being powerfully stirred by emotion is not a complete person.  But a man or woman whose emotions chiefly guide their decisions will frequently make bad choices.


Scripture doesn’t employ the common English usage of “Tom said to himself…”  Instead we encounter phrases like the one in the following verse:


And if you say in your heart, ‘Why have these things happened to me…?’

(Jeremiah 13:22)


However, in the Lord’s language, there is meticulous specificity about prepositions.  Which is to say that in the Hebrew text some instances read, “_____said IN his or her heart” while others read, “_____said TO or AT his or her heart.”


What is the difference?


IN one’s heart means that your head has descended into your heart and your brain has surrendered to your feelings. 


TO one’s heart means that your head exerts control, addressing the heart from a strong and independent position.


Notably, the Torah hints at this vital tool for complete comprehension quite early in Genesis.


And God said TO His heart, ‘I will no longer continue to curse the earth…’

(Genesis 8:21)


God is giving us a guideline to emulate.  We should choose to be like Him and those who follow His path.

With mind-boggling consistency, each time we read, “And _____ said IN his heart,” a Biblical figure is about to make a life-harming mistake. Each time we read, “And _____said TO his heart,” we see someone making a wise move.


I must point out that, sadly, most English translations fail to make this vital distinction, translating the Hebrew ‘EL’ meaning TO and also the Hebrew ‘B’ meaning IN, identically.


Here are two examples of men who had potential for greatness but headed in the wrong direction:


Esau hated Jacob…and Esau said IN his heart… ‘I will kill Jacob my brother…’

(Genesis 27:41)


Jeroboam said IN his heart, ‘Perhaps the monarchy will

return to the house of David.’

(I Kings 12:26)



Not surprisingly, Psalms 14:1 declares:


A depraved person says IN his heart, ‘There is no God.’


By contrast, enjoy these examples of people heading in the right direction.


Hannah was speaking AT her heart…

(I Samuel 1:13)


David said TO his heart

 (I Samuel 27:1)


Scripture is empowering us with a subtle but powerful message.  We can allow our emotions to dominate us and then use our heads to rationalize bad decisions. Or we can carefully make decisions and then invite our hearts on board to provide needed excitement and enthusiasm.


There are so many messages like this one which only emerge from reading the Bible in the original Hebrew. Imagine how exciting it would be to look up all the above references and see this life lesson jump out at you. Or to find other examples on your own! So many of you have asked whether we might offer a Hebrew class and I am thrilled to finally be able to say: Yes! Two weeks ago we asked for feedback about holding a series of webinars and the response was overwhelming. Learn more about Holy Hebrew! and follow the links to sign up.


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