LIFE: L’Chaim, then BAM!


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By Rabbi Robert L. Kravitz, D.D. –

Sad. Happy. Quietly listening to pain. Enjoying family, celebrating at the holidays.

Many are the emotions we all have to deal with, were we to listen to lyrics of the famous Disney song “Circle of Life.” There is much to be fondly impressed by. There is also much to be depressed by. Life is a balance, and not always an equal balance.

As I write this column in early October, I celebrated a joyous festival with friends and family (Sukkot), while at the same time recovering from the difficult loss of a good friend.

So how does one do both? What is the secret to being happy while grieving? How is it possible to be both happy and sad, and fully participate in both those aspects of one’s life? Less of one and more of the other? Where is the appropriate balance?

When joyful times arise, we celebrate; we revel in the company of relatives and friends; we drink “L’chaim” To Life! And all is good. All seems OK. All appears to be under control and normal.

Then something happens that is devastating, that hurts, that shakes the body to its core. Tears, inability to smile; depression hovers, superimposed on the happy. Weird combination. Unusual situation.

That is what is going on in my head right now. The community welcomes the new year and the festival that follows, and BAM! A terrible calamity happens and the fun and joy is sucked out of the festival. The balance is tipped, and sadness becomes the norm, for a while.

Sunshine followed by fog; brightness glowing, then an impenetrable darkness.

That is life. That is the balance we all face. That is the yin and yang of human existence. First one, then the other. How we handle the problems and resolve the issues is what makes us human. Being able to cope is the ultimate human challenge. Finding the key to open the reality box, is the test.

At some point in time, each of us will be hit with such a difficult choice. Choose the one and gloom reigns, choose the other and joy takes over — waiting for the “BAM”.

To all who face the downside of this challenge, this painful “Circle of Life” challenge, I am only able to offer my warm hugs. The gloom will finally fade, the joy will return, and the circle will continue.

May we have more joyous and celebrative times than sad and gloomy ones, so we will be strong enough to go forward with an honest and compelling smile.

Rabbi Robert L. Kravitz, D.D. is known Valley-wide for his more than three decades of support for civil and human rights, and the positive efforts of law enforcement. He regularly lectures on related subjects, while working part-time as Hospital Chaplaincy Coordinator for Jewish Family & Children’s Service. Contact him at

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