Dear Readers,

Do you feel sad during this time of year? Do you find yourself sleeping too much, having little to no energy, or overeating? Have you noticed yourself withdrawing, or are you having difficulty making decisions and concentrating?

If yes, then you may be with 20 percent of Americans who have a mild form of SAD, Seasonal Affective Disorder that starts when the days get shorter and colder. Women and young people are more likely to experience SAD, as are those who live farther away from the equator.

Seasonal mood variations are believed to be related to light. Although experts were initially skeptical, this condition is now recognized as a common disorder experienced during the dark days of the northern U.S. winter.

This week, we greet the new Jewish month of Kislev. In the northern hemisphere, Kislev is the darkest month of the year. The winter solstice, when the Earth’s poles has its maximum tilt away from the sun falls at this time. We experience the shortest period of daylight and longest nights of the year. From here on, we begin to slowly reverse the lengthening of nights to the point that our daylight hours are finally growing longer.

You may especially notice those extra few minutes of daylight during the Friday afternoon rush. As you busily prepare for Shabbat, you may appreciate the additional time before candle-lighting, as sunset extends slightly each week.

So, light plays a huge role in this month: its decline and absence, only to once again re-emerge and begin to grow stronger.

It turns out that as humans, we all have a need for light: real physical light, as well as emotional and spiritual “light.”

Not surprisingly, various forms of “light therapy” have been effective for treating the symptoms of SAD. Those suffering are advised to have greater exposure to light, by spending more time outdoors in the sunlight, or by using a special light box which emits lumens.

We need to add greater emotional and spiritual light to our lives at this time of year as well. How can we do so? By illuminating our surroundings with the light of awareness, inclusivity, kindness and purpose. By studying inspirational texts that reminds us how a little bit of light can brighten a great deal of darkness, and how a little bit of hope, faith and courage, despite the darkening odds, can create new wonders in our lives and in the lives of others around us.

Many of us have been suffering over the last many months, overcome with fright, full of anxiety for our health, and fearing for our livelihoods. Our world situation can feel perilous and we may wonder what tomorrow will bring. But when our situation feels hopeless and sad, when our circumstances seem so dark, we need to take the initiative of bringing in rays of spiritual light and goodness to dissolve our darkness and envelop us and our world with light.

Because in truth, the greater the challenge, the more beautiful the ensuing light.

Wishing you a bright week!

Chana Weisberg

Editor, TJW