For a large part of my life, I have felt out of sync with my surroundings. On one hand, I guess the sense of disconnect pushed me to go deeper within, but on the other hand it created obvious dissonance. I even felt it when I discovered the magic of the Jewish holidays. Take such disparate occasions like Passover and Tisha B’Av.

My first exposure to a Passover Seder was when my handicapped mother sent me to wonderful neighbors with five daughters, a mother who was an amazing cook, and a father who had cards with the most intriguing—to my eleven-year-old mind—set of questions and answers. I thought that was so methodical, and it was only later that I realized the connection with that level of organization and the family’s German background. However, the experience was very bittersweet. For a large part of my life, I have felt out of sync with my surroundingsMy mother, who was raising me alone, couldn’t or wouldn’t come with me during those several years that I couldn’t resist going, but I felt terrible for abandoning her on that night of magnificent liberation. Sorrow amidst the joy!

Then, a few years later, there was Tisha B’Av, my first time in a very observant overnight summer camp. Gathered around a bonfire for much of the night, amid a group of girls I did not know except for camp, we sang sad songs and heard mournful stories from the Talmud about the destruction of the Holy Temple, the Beit Hamikdash. It was such a unifying experience for me that for the first time in my life, I felt at home among my people—an orphan surrounded by an orphan nation—waiting to be rescued from our pain by a larger-than-life person called Moshiach! Joy amidst the sorrow!

What was with me, to be so out of touch with what I thought I was supposed to feel in those conflicting circumstances? Only years later did I learn that the first night of Passover always comes out on the same night of the week as Tisha B’Av. And that we eat an egg at the Passover Seder, to remember the mourning during the celebration. In contrast, on Tisha B’Av afternoon, there is a custom to sweep the floor because we are taught that Moshiach is born on that afternoon.

Such is the wonder and the complexity of the Jewish calendar, and of Jewish life itself. Life morphs into its opposite, and from despair, life is born anew. And such is the profound take-away message: If life were simple and one-dimensional, then that phenomenon would belie the divine unity that underlies the blatant multiplicity in creation. It would bring the world to a self-absorbed and solipsistic Tower of Babel state, where no one could comprehend or relate to each other. And how un-G‑dly would that be!

Life morphs into its opposite, and from despair, life is born anewSo my Passover sadness and my Tisha B’Av euphoria were really a deeper expression of my Jewish soul than I could realize at the time of my feelings. And when Moshiach finally arrives, instead of being a sad note during our celebration of freedom, perhaps the egg that begins the Seder will hatch a new self that feels everything there is to feel in existence—everything ever felt by all of humanity—and restore the broken branches of existence back to their source in the tree of eternal life.