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Jewish Thinking

9 Tips for Being Happy With One’s Torah

Published on Wednesday December 4th, 2019

Rabbi Aharon MiKarlin writes: "There is no explicit mitzvah to be joyful and there is no explicit sin in the Torah regarding one who is sad. However, joy can bring a man to a high level as no other Mitzvah can. Insensitivity and sadness can make a man fall like no other sin can."

Our Divine Service includes the accomplishment of the mitzvot, but also the quality with which we perform them and joy is part of the means used to make our Divine Service more virtuous. For example, one who feels joy and enthusiasm in the morning will have no difficulty getting up, praying and fulfilling his daily obligations.

If we consider the value of the mitzvot and the merit that they bring to us in this world as well as in the future world, how can we not rejoice in their fulfilment? Regarding the one who is sad, it shows a lack of faith, indeed, that is one of the main causes of sadness.

Imagine a man who returns from work on a hot day and asks his son for a glass of water. The latter brings him water saying, "Here is what you asked for!'' With an unenthusiastic tone and an obvious lack of motivation. The son did what the father asked him, but without doing his will. Likewise, a man can follow all the Torah commands without fulfilling G-d's will, which is to be served with joy and enthusiasm.

Our joy should not be dependent on our mood, the present moment or on any specific reason. Man is supposed to be in control of his joy, he can decide to feel it even at times that do not lend themselves to joy. For example, we must follow the command "You will rejoice in your festivals" and this does not take into account our current mood. In the course of our history, many of our tzaddikim have rejoiced in times of sorrow, and it is this attitude that has cancelled bad decrees.

What Are the Ways to Feel Joy?

1. A fundamental means of attaining joy is to feel one's own greatness, as in the verse: "His heart hath boasted in the ways of Hashem". The root of joy is to feel the verse "The world was created for me". We must understand how important each of our actions is. But if we think that we are worthless and our life is worthless, that we are just one of many creations, we will never come to a state of joy. We must feel that our work on Earth is indispensable and unique, and our satisfaction will come from this.

2. If we consider the influence of the mitzvot in the heavenly world, our Divine Service will be filled with joy. Especially if we realized the extraordinary opportunity we have to serve G-d every day of our lives, and that we can attain a closeness to Hashem that even angels cannot reach.

The book Avodat HaKodesh reveals to us that there are two parts in the merit of each mitzvah: one that comes from the mitzvah itself and one from the joy that comes with its fulfilment. It is almost incredible that the value of joy when performing a mitzvah is greater than that of the mitzvah itself!

3. Force yourself to smile in every situation, it will give you enthusiasm and joy when fulfilling the Divine Service. It is better to start smiling in the morning when the challenges have not yet faced you, so that these positive feelings accompany you and strengthen you throughout the day. When you hear good news about your friend, rejoice with him, even artificially, like that, jealousy will move away from you and you will get used to rejoicing for your neighbor.

4. Look for joy in your daily life. Be sensitive and attentive to situations and thoughts that trigger you to have positive feelings. Do not think of this as unimportant, because everything that generates joy is very valuable. We can change our perception of events in life and choose to go from sadness or indifference to joy, even when the situation seems insignificant or negative at first sight.

Over time, you will discover that joy has penetrated your heart, and that you have the ability to rejoice in situations that saddened you before.

5. Seek opportunities to make others happy, and you will feel the good that it does to you and you will internalize the middah (character trait) of joy.

6. The Netivot Shalom says that working on one’s middot (character traits) is a source of joy. Naturally, man aspires to perfection and if he does not feel that his actions follow the path of this aspiration, he will remain sad, for three reasons: First, he will feel vulnerable in situations that do not happen according to his will. Secondly, man has an intrinsic need to feel that he is progressing, which is one of the foundations of the joy. Finally, his bad middot will be like veil facing the light of G-d and this will lead him to sadness.

7. The study of Torah, in all its forms, brings joy because the Torah builds the soul and pleases the heart.

8. Music also generates joy: "With joyous melodies, you will attract joy from above".

9. Choose a mitzvah that you will accomplish each day with joy and consider the satisfaction you will receive from your Creator.

The Torah-Box Team - © Torah-Box

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