The Mishna (Beitzah 4:1), as cited in today’s daf (30a), rules that in order to distinguish between Yom Tov and weekday activities, they should be performed with a שינוי, ‘a difference’. As the Mishna then notes, ‘one who brings pitchers of wine from place to place may not bring them in a basket or box but may bring them on their shoulder etc.’.
At the same time, the Gemara then explains that אם אי אפשר לשנות – ‘if it is not possible [to carry the item] in a different way’, מותר – ‘it is permissible to carry it [in its usual manner]’, and it then gives an example of buckets of water which, due to the fact that no alternative is any better, need only be carried in their usual manner.
Clearly, the Mishna and Gemara are discussing the physical carrying of physical items on Yom Tov. Still, I believe that the essence of the Mishna also applies to how we carry other baggage – such as emotional baggage – throughout our lives.
There is some baggage that we carry which is simply unhealthy for us to be carrying. In those cases, we need to find a way – perhaps in consultation with a therapist – to let go of that baggage.
Then there is other baggage that we carry with us, but we are carrying it in an unhealthy way. In such a situation, we need to make a שינוי so that its presence in our life does not weigh down our life.
And then there is other baggage that אי אפשר לשנות, meaning that at least some aspects of it are unable to be carried in a different way. It is there, with us, and for the time being cannot be changed or released. And when this occurs, we need family and friends to help bear its weight until we reach a point where we can either change how we are carrying the load, or – where possible – let it go.
Still, it is important to remember that different people carry things in different ways, and while one person may be able to carry something in one way, another may need to carry it differently.
Simply put, we cannot assess the breadth of another’s emotional shoulders from afar. But what we can do is let them know that our shoulder is there for them – if and when they need it.