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It sure is easier, and more tempting, to stay in bed, in our cozy "pajamas," and shy away from life's many callings. But in Judaism, "I'm not in the mood" has never been a good enough excuse. "I don't feel like it" is an expression that has never been welcomed into the Jewish lexicon. Even when our feelings are down and our interest is low, we must learn to put on clothes of happiness and enthusiasm to fulfill our everyday purpose, to serve, to smile, to lend a helping hand, and to do as much good as we can for the betterment of ourselves and our surroundings.

Rabbi Allouche

Did you know that a simple smile can take away your stress?

A few years ago, psychologists asked different people to hold pencils in their mouths for a few moments. This exercise caused them to mimic a smile, and activate the same muscles of the mouth, cheeks, and eyes that come to life when we are happy.

The results were astonishing: this simple trick made the subjects of this study genuinely happier. The activation of their facial muscles triggered their emotions of joy and it boosted their general mood.

Perhaps, this was the idea behind one of the strange commandments in this week’s portion:
When the priests took the ashes out of the Temple, their entire clothing outfit had to be changed. In the words of the Torah: “And he shall take off his clothes and put on other clothes, and remove the ashes outside the camp,” (Leviticus 6:4).

But why did they have to change their clothes to take out the garbage? Say, you’re sitting at home comfortably, and you are asked by your lovely spouse to take out the garbage. Would you first go to your room and change your clothes for this special occasion? How absurd!

The answer is profound and beautiful: When working for G-d, it is important to “change our clothes.” When we assume the role of G-d’s agents of kindness in our world, we ought to come out of our cocoons, dress our faces with a smile, and equip ourselves with the conviction to help others and make a difference in their lives.

It sure is easier, and more tempting, to stay in bed, in our cozy “pajamas,” and shy away from life’s many callings. But in Judaism, “I’m not in the mood” has never been a good enough excuse. “I don’t feel like it” is an expression that has never been welcomed into the Jewish lexicon.
Even when our feelings are down and our interest is low, we must learn to put on clothes of happiness and enthusiasm to fulfill our everyday purpose, to serve, to smile, to lend a helping hand, and to do as much good as we can for the betterment of ourselves and our surroundings.

So next time, your children, your spouse, your friends, a stranger, and your deepest self, call upon you to help throw away their inner garbage, and to infuse freshness and joy in their lives; clothe yourself with your best clothes, your brightest smile, and your shiniest self, and seize the moment.

As our ancestors in the times of the Temple, you too will then have become G-d’s holy priest of goodness and healing in our broken world.