King Solomon wrote in Ecclesiastes: “To everything there is a season and a time to every purpose under heaven…a time to weep and a time to laugh; a time to mourn and a time to dance…” The Zohar, the classic work of Kabbalah, describes the inner psyche of man as “crying being on one side of the heart and laughing on the other side of the heart.”

Both these ideas imply that there are appropriate times for mourning and weeping and other times for joy and laughter. This is actually not as easy as it sounds. Have you ever seen someone acting depressed at a wedding or someone at a funeral or house of mourning talking frivolously? To be in tune with the moment is a real wisdom. Yet, there is an even deeper understanding where we learn to be joyous and broken hearted at the very same time. The world is so beautiful and a cause for true joy, how can I not be happy.

On the other hand, the world is so full of human suffering and pain, how can I not feel broken hearted. Both these realities are actually true and a simultaneous state of joy and inner pain is thus appropriate. The trick is to not let joy drown out our empathy for others, while not letting our aching heart blind us to all the good surrounding us.

A classic example of this is the Jewish wedding ceremony where at the very apex of joy we break a glass to remind us of the destroyed Temple and all the pain of the world. Conversely, on Tisha B’Av when we fast and mourn for the destroyed Temple, tradition tells us that that on this very day the Messiah is born.