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Wisdom of Kahana: From Sorrow Comes Great Joy

Updated on October 22, 2011

Only when someone has found themselves in the bottomless pit of despair can they then find themselves elevated through true joy of spirit. How often we find ourselves shedding tears from the pure joy of laughter, unable to comprehend the obvious incongruity. From where do these tears stem that our happiness actually brings about their uncontrolled release. They are born in that well that we carry deep within all of us. That dark place where all the pain and suffering of our lives has been buried deep below its murky depths. That place where even the tallest and broadest of trees cannot bear fruit because it never sees the sunlight. And every now and then the levels in that well rise to a height that we can finally drain a portion of their suffering and release a volume of that stagnated pool of misery which in turn manifests itself through the tears of laughter. It is as if a heavy weight has suddenly been lifted from our souls and we know that in that passing we have gained a degree of happiness in our lives, as fleeting as the moment may be.

The Balance

It is up to us to seek that balance, to find that release of the waters from the well of misery because the longer we allow it to remain the more foul it becomes until it seeps into the groundwater and pollutes everything else it comes in contact with. It is no different from opened bottle of wine we rarely pour, only to let it sit well beyond its time, until it ferments to nothing more than the bitterness of vinegar. What remains is a foul and disgusting brew that is so sour in the mouth that it is no longer recognizable as the ambrosia that once graced our palate. Nor is the sweet syrup from the cane, the hive or the maple tree anything more than the theft of those living organisms labour and lifeblood that we have seized the moment of our joy from their sorrow. The balance of joy and sorrow has existed from the dawn of time and it is the purpose of each and every creature to seek the harmony of that co-existence. More so in our case because mankind has forgotten along the way what true happiness is and why it should be cherished and preserved.

At the time you experience a moment of great joy, then seize that opportunity to stare into the darkness of the well and find a corresponding sorrow that can be lifted in the hanging bucket and then poured out upon the land never to sully the waters again. Look deep into your heart and you will certainly uncover a grievous sorrow that for so long has prevented you from experiencing great joy. Release that offense that life has made you endure and the tears will certainly flow and you will understand that you are weeping more so from the delight of casting that burden from your soul once and for all.

Until Then

Until we have suffered greatly we cannot appreciate the tremendous joys that this life affords us. Until we have carried an insurmountable burden we have no knowledge of what it feels like to have a great weight lifted from our shoulders. Until we have suffered from a broken heart we do not understand how finding eternal love differs from all we had experienced before. Until we have suffered and experienced an unrecoverable loss we cannot appreciate how much joy and happiness we had while what we lost was still with us. Until we hold the broken pieces of a cherished dream within our hands we cannot find the elation of reconstructing it piece by piece until we have restored the treasure to our satisfaction. Until we have stared death in the face we cannot appreciate how magnificent the gift of life is and how we must never take it for granted. Until we have shivered in the dread of an everlasting winter we cannot find the absolute delight of basking in the glorious rays of a summer’s day.

Until we have been downtrodden and cast from the bosom of YHWH, we cannot experience the joy of our return to His grace and His loving kindness. This is the lesson and gift God has presented to us throughout our three thousand years of Jewish history, letting us know that only through the despair of being His suffering servants can we actually find the purpose and joy in life. As incongruous as these tears of happiness may seem, to all of you that ask why we must suffer so if we are truly His children then I answer that it is all part of the balance that must be experienced if we are to appreciate all that the Lord has given to this world. And until we can empty the well completely by counteracting every drop of sorrow contained within that pit existing within all of us with both enlightenment and understanding of the joys that are manifested in equilibrium, then we will never attain that point of eternal happiness that we seek. Each of us stands at the edge of the well, bucket in hand. The choice either to stare into its depths and sigh, “this is impossible,” or to roll up our sleeves and shout, “I can do this,” is entirely left to us.

Avrom Aryeh-Zuk Kahana


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      alanbedford 6 years ago

      Very inspirational and beautiful, it was a pleasure to read. The only point I would add is that although we have the choice to say either "this is impossible" or "I can do this", success or failure depends exclusively upon the will of God. See Proverbs 16:33 "Into the lap the lot is cast down, but every decision from it is from Jehovah."