Make Time for Joy | IFCJ
Skip Navigation
Jerusalem

Make Time for Joy

elderly club dance party

a time to weep and a time to laugh,
a time to mourn and a time to dance.
— Ecclesiastes 3:4

We begin a new year of devotional teachings from Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein with a focus on joy, simcha — the joy found in the grateful acceptance and celebration of each day God has given to us. Join us as we explore Rabbi Eckstein’s teachings on the joy found in connecting with God and with others.

We invite you to dig deeper into the Jewish roots of Christianity with Rabbi Eckstein’s monthly teaching series, Limmud. Check it out here.

It’s much easier, and definitely more enjoyable, to laugh and dance than to grieve and mourn. Yet, when confronted by loss, we automatically turn to sadness, but we don’t often take the time to enjoy the good times in life when they occur. In the hustle and bustle of life, all too often we let the good things in life pass us by with barely any recognition.

In the book of Ecclesiastes, when King Solomon enumerated the different times and seasons in life, he included that there was “a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance.” The Jewish sages teach that this verse refers to moving through the stages of grief and then moving back to normal life.

In other words, there is a time to weep and mourn, but that time period should not be exaggerated. When it is appropriate, one must return to normal living, which includes dancing, singing, and rejoicing in the day God has given us.

This teaching reminds me of a time when I had attended a shiva, the traditional seven-day mourning period in Judaism observed by the closest family members of the deceased. During these days, the mourners sit on low chairs, refrain from showering and other pleasures while family and friends come to comfort them. This particular shiva was very difficult since the deceased was a father who had young children still living at home.

I remember one of the sons asking his mother how he would go on after the shiva was over. She said there is a reason why it is called shiva, which means “seven” in Hebrew. After a full week, it’s time to begin the healing process. Other mourning customs are still observed, but the most intense time of mourning must come to an end.

It’s important that we never get too caught up in the tragedies of life that we miss out on living our lives with celebration and joy. There is a time for sadness, but it always gives way to a time to be joyful if we permit it.

Moreover, this verse reminds us that there are times that we should be joyful and celebrate. We should never be so busy that we don’t have time to celebrate birthdays, anniversaries, and other important milestones. God gives us so many occasions to be joyful in life – we would be remiss if we did not relish and treasure each one. There will always be difficulties in life, so let us remember to celebrate and praise God for all the good things in our lives.

Check out Rabbi Eckstein’s study on Abraham, the father of our faiths, Abraham, in his Limmud (“study” in Hebrew) teaching, “Abraham: The Patriarch of Loving-kindness.”

With prayers for shalom, peace,

Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein
Founder and President

LATEST DEVOTIONAL

Let God Heal Your Wounds

January 23, 2019

Not only can God help heal us, promote us, and make things better than ever before, but ultimately only God can deal properly with our enemies.

Read More

NEW TEACHING RESOURCE

Abraham Limmud Promo Box

Abraham: Our Patriarch of Loving-kindness

Abraham’s belief about one God who is Father of us all -- monotheism -- was not widely recognized during his lifetime. His ideals and values form the basis of the civilized world today. Learn more about Abraham, the first of the avot, the patriarchs.

Download Now

HOW TO HELP

Bless Israel For Her 70th

Help Her Survive

For elderly Jews like Tatiana in the far reaches of the former Soviet Union, the harsh winter months threaten their very survival. Your best gift today will help provide winter relief essentials like heating fuel and warm clothing as well as food and medicine to an elderly widow who has no one else to care for her.

Donate Now