Parashas Pinchas

These are [the offerings] you shall make unto G-d on your festivals (Numbers 29:39).

    This Portion of the Torah is almost always read during the three weeks between the 17th day of Tammuz and the 9th of Av, a period of mourning designated to commemorate the destruction of both Temples in Jerusalem and the expulsion from our homeland. This portion of the Torah contains the services for all the festivals (Numbers 28:11-29:39). Therefore, says Rabbi Tzvi Elimelech, it is read during the period of mourning, so that we should not be swept away by the various mourning rituals practiced during this period. We are reminded that the period of grief will pass, and we will once again rejoice.

    Few people are so fortunate as to have a life that is without episodes of sadness. Some people react to unpleasant occurrences with depression so severe that it renders them unable to function. This may give rise to a self-reinforcing cycle, and the inactivity resulting from the depression may become a cause of further depression. The antidote to this is to remember at all times that there is joy in the future.

    It is told of King Solomon that he was consulted by a person who had severe mood swings, episodes of unrealistic elation alternating with periods of paralyzing depression. Solomon had the royal goldsmith fashion a ring wih the inscription “gam zeh yaavor; This, too, shall pass.” At times of euphoria, this would remind him of the transitory nature of this phase, and at times of severe dejection, he would be reminded that there is relief ahead.

    Our own personal histories should be a source of strength to us. Each of us has had times when we felt extremely discouraged and could not see the light at the end of the tunnel. Yet we emerged from these episodes and again experienced joy in life. We must remember these episodes and, if difficult days come again, ask ourselves: Why should this time be any different? Granted that we may be in severe distress at this particular moment, but we should remember that we have had similar ordeals in the past, and “this too shall pass.”

    Excerpt from Living Each Week, by Rabbi Abraham J. Twerski, M.D.