How to be Emotional in 5781: The Legacy of a Hasidic Educational Master

November 12, 2020

By Rabbi Dr. Jon Kelsen for eJewish Philanthropy

A quick look at the papers, glance out the window, or moment of introspection reveal one the emotional turmoil being activated on all levels of social and political life during these extraordinarily trying days. The US just concluded a tumultuous presidential election, revealing a country with still profound political division. Anti-racism protests and efforts continue to rock the nation, bringing old fissures in the national fabric to the fore. And, not least, as the days get shorter and winter approaches, the nation experiences record-breaking rises in new Covid cases. It has been and, it appears, will be, a year of uncertainty.

These stimuli and circumstances arouse tremendously taxing emotions, which themselves have enormous impact on who and how we are in this world. Our emotions are being constantly triggered – emotions like anger, fear, disgust, hate, as well as love, joy, compassion. This reality challenges us, as citizens and humans, to learn how to work with those feelings. Especially during these days, we all must learn how best to deal with our emotional life.

The question is not, therefore, whether or not we are emotional; it is, rather, how we are emotional. How might we learn to gracefully encounter and challenge all of our emotions? What does it mean to “do well” with our feelings? What does the learning and practice of wise emotionality look like?


A white background, likely an overhead view of a table, with a plate, knife, fork and glass on it. The plate is plain and white, the fork is to the left and is silvery with two diagonal lines for patterns. The knife is on the right of the plate and has the same color and pattern as the fork. The glass is a stemmed clear glass with repeating diamond patterns on the top section and a starburst on the base spreading out from the base of the stem. The image is likely a photo.For Those Who Cannot Fast, Yom Kippur Should Still be Meaningful
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