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Perpetual Joy?

by Rabbi Yeruchem Eilfort


Library » Philosophy » Happiness | Subscribe | What is RSS?


A hallmark of Jewish philosophy, particularly within the Chabad and other Chasidic movements, places a great emphasis upon a joyful service of G-d. When one considers the long and difficult history of the Jewish people, one may ask in all fairness, "Why and how does one do this?"

Serving G-d with a joyful attitude is a Mitzvah, as the daily prayers say,

"Ivdu et Hashem bi'simcha"

(Serve G-d with joy)! Is it realistic to demand a joyful service of our Creator in light of all the difficulties found within the world, and most notably those that have faced and continue to face our nation?

The Baal Shem Tov, originator of Chasidic Philosophy, emphasized the need for this critical mindset, as he developed his approach to divine service nearly 300 years ago. His prayers were conducted in a state of near ecstasy, and such has been the custom of Chasidim since his times.

This euphoric state is reached not by ignoring what is occurring in the world around us, but instead because of what we see. The first fact that should bring any of us to great happiness is the fact that the Master of the Universe has entrusted us with His most precious gift, the Torah. It is the greatest honor to have been chosen as keepers of G-d's will and wisdom that are espoused within the Torah. Every commandment that we fulfill draws us closer into the bosom of our Creator. It is His ultimate expression of love for us, that He has given us His Torah that lends meaning and value to our lives. The Torah ennobles our existence!

When we couple this fact with the idea that we Jews believe in a personal G-d, a G-d that takes a "personal interest" in how we live our lives, and therefore is intimately involved with every aspect of our lives, we come to an increased state of joy.

It is true that there is much darkness in the world, but at least we have been given a method to dispel the darkness using the light of Torah. There is always hope. Hope creates joy and gives purpose to those who have it. Those people who feel no hope suffer from depression. We know however, that we have a G-dly soul, described as a "Veritable portion of G-d Above!" How can one with such a powerful force within, not feel happiness?


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(pl. Mitzvot). A commandment from G-d. Mitzvah also means a connection, for a Jew connects with G–d through fulfilling His commandments.
Torah is G–d’s teaching to man. In general terms, we refer to the Five Books of Moses as “The Torah.” But in truth, all Jewish beliefs and laws are part of the Torah.
Chabad, an acronym for Wisdom, Knowledge, and Understanding, is the name of a Chassidic Group founded in the 1770s. Two of the most fundamental teachings of Chabad are the intellectual pursuit of understanding the divine and the willingness to help every Jew who has a spiritual or material need.
Baal Shem Tov
Rabbi Israel Baal Shem Tov (1698-1760), Polish mystic and founder of the Chassidic movement.
"The Name." Out of respect, we do not explicitly mention G-d's name, unless in the course of prayer. Instead, "Hashem" is substituted.
It is forbidden to erase or deface the name of G-d. It is therefore customary to insert a dash in middle of G-d's name, allowing us to erase or discard the paper it is written on if necessary.