web analytics
April 19, 2015 / 30 Nisan, 5775
At a Glance
Judaism
Sponsored Post


Home » Judaism » Parsha »

The Mitzvah To Be Happy

The-Shmuz

“Because you did not serve Hashem…
amid gladness and goodness of heart
when everything was abundant.”
— Devarim 28:47

At the end of a long prophecy of what will befall us if we don’t follow the ways of Hashem, the Torah seems to lay the blame on one issue: because you did not serve Hashem…amid gladness and goodness of heart when everything was abundant. It seems the pivotal point of these two extremes is based on simcha, implying that serving Hashem with happiness is critical to our success as a nation.

Rabbeinu Bachya explains that this is because the mitzvahs must be done with joy and complete devotion. When the mitzvahs are done without joyfulness, they are lacking in their effect, and can be part of the spiral downward.

He then gives an example of a mitzvah that wasn’t done with complete motivation. The Midrash tells us that when Reuven attempted to save Yosef from his brothers, he said, “Let us put him in the pit.” His intention was to buy some time to eventually save him. However, had he realized he would be recorded in history as the one who saved Yosef, he would have put him on his shoulders and carried him home to his father. From here we see the importance of doing a mitzvah with complete dedication and commitment.

This Rabbeinu Bachya is difficult to understand on two levels. First, how can the Torah command me to be happy? Being happy isn’t an emotion we can turn on and off like a light switch. And how can we relate the effect of doing a mitzvah joyfully to the case of Reuven? We are well aware that honor is one of the most powerful driving forces in the human condition. Granted, Reuven was a tzaddik, but the fact that he would have been titled the savior of Yosef for eternity is something that would propel a man to extremes. How can that be compared to something as minor as joy in the performance of a mitzvah?

The answer to these questions can best be understood through a different perspective.

Sheldon G. Adelson is the owner of Las Vegas Sands Corp. In 2003, his net worth was ranked at 1.4 billion dollars. While that is an impressive sum, it didn’t put him anywhere near the richest people in the world. However, when he took his company public, a rather interesting thing happened. His personal wealth increased by 750 percent. By 2004, his personal worth had increased to over 20 billion dollars, making him the fifth richest man in the world. Forbes magazine estimates that over those two years, Adelson’s fortune had been growing by $1 million every hour.

Imagine for a moment what it must feel like to know your wealth is increasing at that rate. You sit down to a leisurely lunch and walk away a million dollars richer. Open a Gemara for the daf HaYomi – there’s another $750,000. Lie down for a Shabbos nap; wake up three million dollars wealthier. Every moment I live, I become richer and richer.

I Have No Plans of Dying

The single most difficult concept we human beings deal with is our mortality. While we are cognitively aware of it, emotionally we just don’t feel it will happen. With that emotional blindness comes blindness to the value of our actions. Since in our operating reality I will never die, then what I do or don’t do really doesn’t matter.

If for a flashing moment I were to see what the World to Come will be like for me, I would effectively lose free will. The extraordinary accomplishment of one mitzvah would so overwhelm me that I would be completely and radically different – not different physically, not smarter, but much more driven to accomplish my purpose in life. When Chazal tell us over and over again that mitzvahs are worth far more than the greatest treasures in this world, it is because they had that clarity. In the World to Come we will look back at every chance we had to grow as the greatest opportunity ever given to man. We will look back at our mitzvahs and they will bring us far more joy than earning than a million dollars an hour.

This seems to be the answer to Rabbeinu Bachya. One of the greatest motivators in the human is enthusiasm. That enthusiasm is based on a value system. If I value money, I will be driven to pursue it, and the acquisition of it will bring me great joy. If I gain a deeper perspective on life, then I experience elation, knowing that my net worth in the World to Come is growing at an incredible rate. My investments are paying back in spades. That excitement is one of the most powerful motivating forces, equal even to kavod. With it, a person can reach great heights. Without it, a person’s avodas Hashem can become stale and lose its potency.

Ultimately, joy is a great force that both allows a person to enjoy his short stay in this world and propels him to achieve the greatness for which he was created.

About the Author: Rabbi Shafier is the founder of the Shmuz.com – The Shmuz is an engaging, motivating shiur that deals with real life issues. All of the Shmuzin are available free of charge at the www.theShmuz.com or on the Shmuz App for iphone or Android.


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

No Responses to “The Mitzvah To Be Happy”

Comments are closed.

Current Top Story
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu reviews details of a "bad deal" with Iran.
Netanyahu Warns of Increased Iran Aggression in Middle East
Latest Judaism Stories
Hertzberg-041715

Lincoln was not a perfect man. But he rose above his imperfections to do what he thought was right not matter the obstacles.

Arch of Titus

Adon Olam: An Erev Shabbat Musical Interlude Courtesy of David Herman

Daf-Yomi-logo

Oh My, It’s Copper!
‘…And One Who Is A Coppersmith’
(Kethubboth 77a)

Grunfeld-Raphael-logo

The omer sacrifice of loose barley flour was more fitting for animal consumption than human consumption and symbolizes the depths to which the Jewish slaves had sunk.

Question: If Abraham was commanded to circumcise his descendants on the eighth day, why do Arabs – who claim to descend from Abraham through Yishmael – wait until their children are 13 to circumcise them? I am aware that this is a matter of little consequence to our people. Nevertheless, this inconsistency is one that piques my curiosity.

M. Goldman
(Via E-mail)

When Chazal call not eating treif food a chok, that refers to how it functions.

His mother called “Yoni, Yoni!” Her eyes, a moment earlier dark with pain, shone with joy and hope

Kashrut reminds us that in the end, God is the arbiter of right and wrong.

In a cab with Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach & Rav Elayshiv discussing if/when to say tefillas haderech

The successful student listens more than speaks out; wants his ideas critiqued, not just appreciated

Why would it not be sufficient to simply state lehoros from which we derive that in such a state one may not issue any psak?

What do we learn about overcoming loss from the argument between Moses and Aaron’s remaining 2 sons?

Each of the unique roles attributed to Moshe share the common theme that they require of and grant higher sanctity to the individual filling the role.

Because of the way the piece of my finger had been severed, the doctors at the hospital were not able to reattach it. They told me I’d have to see a specialist.

“The problem is that the sum total is listed is $17,000. However, when you add the sums mentioned, it is clear that the total of $17,000 is an error. Thus, Mr. Broyer owes me $18,000, not $17,000.”

More Articles from Rabbi Ben Tzion Shafier
Shmuz-logo-NEW

When Chazal call not eating treif food a chok, that refers to how it functions.

Shmuz-logo-NEW

And the farmer can’t help but feel a sense of pride. After all, it was his wisdom that led him to choose corn, not like that fool of a guy next door who planted wheat.

So what type of praise is it that Aaron followed orders?

If my garment is clean, then I will be careful about maintaining its beauty. If it is soiled, I will not be as careful.

This concept should be very relevant to us as we, too, should be happy beyond description.

The avodah (service) of the kohen gadol is vital and highly sensitive; the world’s very existence depends on it.

While it may appear that man is in charge, Hashem orchestrates every activity on the planet

Hashem placed this world at man’s disposal. In a real sense, man is the steward of Creation.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/judaism/parsha/the-mitzvah-to-be-happy/2013/08/22/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: