Happiness In Doing the Mitzvos
Another part of our happiness includes the concept of simchah b’mitzvos – being happy when we do a mitzvah. Chazal say that there is no Shechinah unless there is “simchah of a mitzvah” (rejoicing over a mitzvah). There is a happiness which is contained inside every mitzvah – that is, for one who is connected to the mitzvah. A mitzvah brings happiness because every mitzvah is an action which brings out a certain potential. When our potential is utilized, this brings us happiness. This is the happiness caused by a mitzvah – our potential is utilized. What exactly is this happiness?
Tzavta – Connection
If a person is lonely, he can’t be happy; loneliness contradicts happiness. The opposite of loneliness is when one feels connected to something. Thus, being “connected” to something is what brings happiness. Mitzvah comes from the word “tzavta” (togetherness). The essence of a mitzvah is to experience a certain connection that comes from it. Only with being connected to something can a person be happy. To illustrate, when a person is alone, he can’t be happy – this we can see from a chosson and kallah, whom we bless “Just as your Creator rejoiced in You in Gan Eden of old.” Hashem rejoiced only when He created “someone else” in creation, so to speak, and that is why Hashem rejoiced on the day that Adam HaRishon was created. Thus, happiness necessitates connection. What exactly this connection is a discussion for itself, which we will soon explain. It is the tzavta, connection, in the mitzvah, which brings happiness to a person when he does it. Most people do not experience this happiness when they do mitzvos, because they aren’t aware of how mitzvos can cause a connection. It is thus only great people who are able to be happy just from doing a mitzvah, because only they are aware of what is going on behind the act of the mitzvah. Everything in Creation – both inanimate and animate things – can either cause a connection or a separation between one and Creation. Since most people aren’t aware of what an action is able to cause, they don’t appreciate the mitzvos, and don’t feel a happiness from doing them – because they aren’t using the mitzvos to connect to anything. They don’t realize that mitzvos are all about tzavta – connection. To illustrate, we can find many people who do a lot of chessed (kindness) yet they aren’t happy. Why don’t the mitzvos they are doing make them happy? It is because they aren’t aware of what they are doing. When you’re not aware of what you’re doing, that equates into that you’re not connected to what you’re doing. When you’re not connected to your good deeds, you can’t feel the “tzavta” in a mitzvah – and thus there will be no resulting happiness.
Increasing Our Awareness
When a person does a mitzvah, he has to be aware – not just intellectually, but to have a soul awareness – that this action he is doing is causing a connection and making him more connected [to Hashem]. It’s possible that a person learns Torah all day, but he isn’t connected to his learning; this is why we can find people who learn a lot of Torah all day, yet they are still not happy; it is because they aren’t aware of what their learning does for them, and thus they aren’t connected to their learning. When a person doesn’t feel connected to his learning, he won’t get happiness from his learning. If only people would be aware of what they are doing as they do a mitzvah! With awareness, people would be connected to what they do, and they would be happy.
Balancing Intellect With Heart
Although our heart has to be involved in what we’re doing in order for us to feel connected to what we do, we must state that we should not either go to the other extreme and only seek to live based on a heart-based life. We need a balance of both our intellect and our heart; to only lived based upon our heart is lowering ourselves from the level of Torah to the level of mitzvos without Torah. A person has an avodah to integrate his heart with his mind (“And you shall know today, and you shall settle the matter upon your heart”), for a mind without a heart or a heart without a mind is an extreme kind of life, and extremes are not the way to live. Every good action we do is able to connect us to something, but we have to be aware of this in order to be happy. For example, Chazal say that dibbur\speech is a form of zivug\connection. Really, speech is supposed to be used as a way for us to connect to other people. When we talk to people, do we realize that we are connecting to them when we have conversations? Usually, we are not aware of the purpose that is behind our conversations, and we forget that our conversations with people are supposed to connect us to others, and that is why we don’t often enjoy our conversations with others. We weren’t aware of the connection to another that a conversation can cause.
Doing Things That Are “You”
An additional point is that person can’t become connected to what he does if he’s doing something that’s doesn’t personify him. It has to be something that is a form of your self-expression in order for you to connect to it. For example, many people work at jobs that really aren’t suitable for them. A person in this situation can’t connect to what he does, and he can’t be happy with his job. When it comes to learning Torah as well, many people learn only because they know that they “have to” learn (either because they are getting paid for it, or because they want to be accepted socially where they live), and not because they are really connected to their Torah learning. In our sefarim hakedoshim, there are many great levels described which a person is able to come to. Any great person who reached any of these levels – whether it is yiras shomayim (fear of Heaven) or kedushah (holiness) – they reached it only because they were connected to what they learned; they were there.
Making Yourself More Aware
So one should ask himself: “Am I doing things that are ‘me’? Or am I doing things that are not really ‘me’?” If a person does something and it makes him sad afterwards, it is because he isn’t connected to what he does, and therefore he is too caught up in the physical aspect of the action. This causes sadness, because all actions (without awareness) cause sadness, since they cause a person to become too involved in the physical aspect of their actions. To illustrate, man was cursed with labor, which was in essence a curse of sadness upon the world, by the very fact that now he would have to be very involved with physical labor. To try to work on becoming more aware of your actions and to feel more connected to what you do, when you walk to shul in the morning to daven, you can think for a few seconds: “Why am I walking to shul right now?” Become aware as you are walking that you are walking because you are going to daven. Start becoming more aware of every action you do – why you are doing, and when you are doing it. This awareness will enable you to become connected to what you do, and when you become connected to the mitzvos, you will be able to receive happiness from doing the mitzvah.
“Someach B’Chelko” – Happiness With Our “Share”
The Mishnah in Avos states, “Who is wealthy? One who is happy with his lot (someach b’chelko).” It’s clear that this doesn’t simply mean that one is happy with whatever he has if he doesn’t have anything to be happy about. We all need something we can hold onto to be able to say of it that we are happy. “Someach b’chelko”, “one who is happy with his share”, will only ring true for one who indeed reaches his “cheilek” – when he truly reaches his allotted “share” in life. Most people are not happy with what they have, because they have never reached their own “cheilek” yet (whatever it may be). They don’t even have a cheilek yet to be happy about! The truth is that it can be said of all people haven’t reached their own cheilek yet. This is because a person’s happiness is perfect and complete only if he has uncovered his entire soul (which consists of five parts), and most people have not uncovered their entire soul. Since most people have not uncovered their soul in its entirety, how then is it possible for us to be happy?
Sadness From “Heaviness”
The answer to this is based upon a statement of Chazal, which says that a merchant feels sad after a sale, while the buyer is happy. We can understand why the buyer is happy, because he’s happy with the item he bought; but why is the owner sad? Didn’t he want to sell it so he could make money off it? He is sad because when he sells it, he has mixed feelings about it. He wanted to make money, but it was hard for him to part with his merchandise. He feels as if he had to do it, but he didn’t really want to. This teaches us about what makes a person sad or happy: people like to choose what they want, and not to feel dragged into something. When a person feels dragged into something, we can compare this to a heavy item being dragged, and “heaviness” comes from the element of earth, which is the root of sadness.
Enjoying The Moment
Really, every person has a certain “cheilek” in life, but each person is able to find what he has in his life to be happy about. But the problem is, that even when a person finds what to be happy about in his life, it is usually only temporary happiness; it doesn’t last.
The solution for this is to change our attitude toward our “temporary” happiness. When you feel happy about something you have right now in your life, even if you know it won’t last, you can enjoy it now and be happy with it. Enjoy the moment - and accept that what you have now will eventually go away. This fact doesn’t have to ruin your happiness. You can be fully aware that you’re only temporarily happy, yet that this doesn’t have to take away your happiness. The problem is when people feel that their current happiness will be permanent, when really it is only temporary. If a person wants to hold onto his happiness forever, he’s doomed for sadness, because he thinks it is permanent happiness when really it is just temporary. Instead, a person should be fully aware that whatever he has now is only temporary – and enjoy it anyway. When a person thinks that his happiness is permanent, he attaches a feeling of security to his current happiness, and this leads to frustration. Nothing is guaranteed to last; when a person feels that something is guaranteed to last, he gets security from it, and when he is disappointed to see it not live up to his expectations, the result is sadness. With anything you have to be happy about, realize that it’s not everything – it is only a cheilek. Be aware that it’s only passing – and you’ll find yourself enjoying whatever you have.
Realizing That Everything Is Temporary Happiness consists of three factors: being happy when we are on a path to get to what we want (which we spoke of previously), getting to the goal (which we also spoke about), and now have added on a third factor: to have the attitude that what we have now to be happy about is indeed only temporary. When we are speaking here of the concept of “someach b’chelko”, we are not referring to each person’s destined cheilek in spirituality that is unique to each individual’s soul. That is the higher level of “someach b’chelko”. We are describing a more basic kind of happiness that is “someach b’chelko” – to view whatever you have as temporary, and that nothing is permanent. For example, if I like my house and am happy with it, the proper attitude I need to have is that it’s my cheilek – it’s what I have temporarily. If I think my house is permanent and I feel security because of my house, my house won’t provide me with happiness. But if I’m aware that my house is my cheilek for now, even though it’s temporary – I know that it’s all mine, but I am aware that it’s only for now and it’s not forever – this is how I can receive happiness from anything that is my cheilek. If I have any particular item, there are two different attitudes to have toward it – one of them will give me happiness, and the other will not. If I’m happy because I’m engrossed in something I have, then really I’m attaching permanence to it. It won’t give me happiness. But if I am aware that I’m just using it as a tool to get something, then I will enjoy it and be happy with it. That is this world: either we can choose to become engrossed in all that’s available in the world and think that this will give us happiness (which it won’t), or we can look at everything in this world as just something we need to use as a tool somehow.
If a person is connected to just about anything on this world because he’s all wrapped up in it, this makes him sad. But if we connect to what’s available on this world only because we realize that we have to make use of it – we will find ourselves being happy with anything.
Tiferes - Beauty
The Midrash lists ten different expressions of simchah (happiness): simchah, sasson, tiferes, gilah, rinah, ditzah, chedvah, tzahalah, alitzah and alizah. Let us see what the joy of “tiferes” is. The third kind of simchah is called “tiferes”, “beauty.” The garments of the Kohen Gadol were worn l’kavod u’litiferes, “for honor and for beauty.” Is it beautiful clothing which makes a person happy? We find that a man gladdens his wife on the festival through giving her new clothing in honor of the festival. Is this the happiness that is known as tiferes? What is the simchah of tiferes? Let us try to understand it.
Deriving Happiness From Your Power of Netzach\Victory
The Gemara states that Hashem is unlike human beings; when a human being is defeated, he is sad, but when Hashem is “defeated”, so to speak, [through prayer], He rejoices. The understanding of this is not that although Hashem was “defeated”, He still remains happy in spite of this - it is rather because He is “defeated”, that is why He is happy. What is the difference between human happiness and the happiness that takes place on High, which we must ultimately learn how to connect to? When it comes to human happiness, there is happiness upon being victorious. Why is a person happy upon succeeding at overcoming something? It is because each person has various retzonos (desires), and when one fulfills his ratzon, he becomes happy. There are many retzonos which we all have, and whenever these retzonos are actualized, we become filled with happiness. Take a look at reality and you can see this. A person wanted something, he got what he wanted, and he becomes happy. Thus, when a person’s will is achieved, the result is happiness. However, there is a rule that “He who wants a hundred, will want two hundred.” When a person has a hundred and he wants two hundred, and he gets it, he will be happy. Pursuing the desires of this world is like drinking salty water, as the Vilna Gaon says; it seems to fill a person’s thirst when he attains these desires, but soon after he is thirstier than before. At the very moment where he is achieving his desire, he will experience happiness, but his happiness from this will eventually go sour and he will be led towards sadness. People are happy because they have achieved some kind of victory, when they have overcome some kind of obstacle that got in the way of their happiness. This is true even if a person hasn’t won a war; as long as a person has gotten past some kind of opposition which was preventing him from achieving his will, he will feel happiness upon being victorious. However, what the person doesn’t realize is that he hasn’t addressed the root. He may have gotten what he wanted now, but soon after his happiness will cease, and he will return to sadness. He has only achieved one of the things that he wanted, but he didn’t get the root of what he wants. There are many desires contained in our ratzon\will. When we achieve only one of those desires, there is some joy that comes from getting it, but it is just one of the many desires that we have, and therefore this joy is short-lived. We will still continue to want more things, even after we have gotten something that we wanted. “He who wants a hundred, will want two hundred.” The joy that comes from getting something we wanted is dependent on whatever we will want at this particular moment, so as soon as we will want something else, the joy will quickly vanish. It is an ongoing cycle of unhappiness, where any happiness that is reached will only be fleeting, which quickly follows with sadness. When a person gets something he wants, he feels victorious. But this is all being imagined. When he thinks he has been victorious in getting what he wanted, really he has been defeated in the process, because he is only being led to further unhappiness, when he derives his happiness from getting what he wants. His ratzon will never really become fulfilled.
Now we can understand what the joy of “tiferes” is. Tiferes is described in the language of our Sages as the blend of all the many different colors of the spectrum coming together, which forms a beautiful sight. Every color is different than another color, and they are really opposites; for example, blue and red are totally opposing colors. The beauty of tiferes is that all the opposite colors come together and form something beautiful. When opposites are connected together, this is the beauty that is tiferes, and this also forms a netzach, a certain “victory”, because the opposites have “succeeded” in uniting together. Tiferes is therefore a happiness that comes from uniting with that which opposes me; to be able to contain opposites. Aharon HaKohen was the Kohen Gadol, and he was the first to wear the bigdei kehunah, so he is the root of this concept. Aharon HaKohen attained a unique gifted character in which he was able to harmonize opposites together. He was able to rejoice for his brother Moshe when Moshe was granted leadership over him, and he could be at peace with this. The deeper understanding of this is that he rejoiced even upon being “defeated”. Moshe represents netzach (victory) and Aharon represents hod (glory), and hod is from the word hodaah, to admit, because his hod could “admit” to the victory of netzach and be at peace. On a simple level, it was because Aharon was able to happy for Moshe’s victory, but the deeper understanding of this is because he was able to be happy upon being defeated, which is a resemblance of the simchah of HaKadosh Baruch Hu, who is “happy” upon being defeated.
If I can connect to that which opposes me, there is resulting simchah. The natural reaction upon being defeated by another would be to feel apart from the one who has defeated me, where there would be a separation between the defeated (me) and the one who has been victorious (the other). But if I can still feel a loving connection to the one who has achieved victory over me, I am then allowing myself to connect with the netzach, and this will result in simchah. Thus, Hashem rejoices when He is “defeated” by His creations, because He is able to contain them, even though they oppose Him. This is the depth of the verse, “Hashem rejoices in His actions.”
Happiness From Ratzon
Let us try to understand this deeper. There are two places in the soul where we can draw forth happiness from. There is a happiness we can draw forth from our ratzon, when we get what we want. Sometimes we want something in particular and we get it, which offers us some happiness. But there is another kind of happiness that can come from our ratzon: when we want only one thing alone, and we get it. That is a much deeper kind of happiness. Deep down in the soul, there is only one will alone. “Retzoinenu laasos retzoncha” – “It is our will to do Your will”. And, “We only have one heart, towards our Father in heaven.” When we are interested solely in this one desire alone, and we attain it, the victory in achieving it will last forever, and this is the deeper simchah that comes from ratzon. This will also be the happiness of the future (and this is yet one angle alone of the happiness that will be experienced then). When a person has many desires, he may achieve some of them and feel happy from these achievements, but ultimately he will become sad from all of these fulfilled desires, because he is really being “defeated” each time with the more he seems to be “victorious”, thus he will continue to desire various things, setting himself up for a recipe of unhappiness. But if a person centralizes all of his desires into one desire alone, this one desire he has will not cause him to desire many various different things, for he only wants one thing alone. He enables himself to be happy from this ratzon. To illustrate this concept (of desiring one thing alone), let’s consider the idea of rejoicing in doing the mitzvos. What is the simchah in doing a mitzvah? Of course, we are happy after we do a mitzvah, and that is true, but what is the depth of this simchah? If I have one ratzon alone, then every time I fulfill this ratzon, I can be happy from it. I can constantly experience this happiness every time I achieve the one ratzon that I have. If all I want to do is to do the will of Hashem – which is expressed in doing a mitzvah – there is resulting happiness, because I have succeeded in attaining my one ratzon. The fact that I will continue to want to do Hashem’s will afterwards, doesn’t take away from my simchah. This is because it is a continuation of the same ratzon, and not “another” ratzon. This is the depth of simchah in the mitzvos. Although there are 613 mitzvos and with many branches of them, they are not many retzonos a person must have; rather they are many branches of one single ratzon, the ratzon to do Hashem’s will. It might seem like they are many retzonos, but they are really all one ratzon alone.
(I must emphasize that as long as we live in this current dimension of time, there is no complete simchah in the world, and it will not be here until the future. Whatever happiness we can attain nowadays is only relative in comparison to the perfect happiness of the future). There is happiness we can attain from nullifying our ratzon, and there is also happiness we can attain in achieving our ratzon. The current level of happiness available to us is the happiness in achieving our ratzon, which is represented by Moshe. The happiness of the future, where all of our desires will be nullified, is represented by Mashiach. Normally, a person is happy upon getting what he wanted. He wanted something, he got it, so he is happy when he achieves that victory. (On a more subtle note, his happiness is coming from the very fact that he wants). If a person at first didn’t want something and then he wanted it, and he is pained by the fact that at first he didn’t want to achieve; he will derive happiness from the very fact that he wants something now. This happiness does not come from actualizing his desire, but from the very fact that he wants. The amount of happiness he will experience will depend on how much he wanted something. But if a person is happy from the fact that his desires have been nullified (bittul haratzon), this is the joy of “The righteous rejoice in Hashem.”
Havayah and Ratzon
Hashem “rejoices”, as it were, in His creations. This simchah on High is a simchah in existence (havayah) itself, and this was the simchah that existed before Creation. After Hashem created the world, He has simchah in His ratzon. Thus there are two levels to simchah – the “lower” simchah comes from simchah in ratzon, and the “higher” simchah comes from above the ratzon, which is havayah. Now we will explain how this applies personally to our souls. In our soul, there is the existence itself of the soul (its very havayah), and there are the various forces contained in the soul. There are thirteen general faculties of the soul: havayah (existence), emunah (faith), taanug (pleasure), ratzon (will), chochmah\machshavah (wisdom\thought), binah\hisbonenus (understanding\contemplation) ahavah\chessed (love\kindness), yirah\gevurah (reverence\strength), hispaarus\rachamim (compassion), netzach (victory), hodayah (submissiveness), hiskashrus (connection), and shiflus (lowliness). This is the general structure of the soul, as explained according to our Sages. One source of our simchah can come from our faculty of ratzon. A second source of our simchah can come from our havayah. In our soul, there is the essence of the soul itself, which is our havayah (existence), and there are also the garments of the soul (the 13 soul faculties), and the root of all these garments of the soul is the faculty of ratzon (will). There is only one essence of the soul, whereas the garments of the soul are many, for there are many retzonos. There is simchah we can derive from our very havayah, which is the happiness described in the verse “The righteous rejoice in Hashem”, and there is also simchah we can derive from our ratzon.
The name of Hashem is the name of havayah, which is not allowed to be written, because it is above Creation. Hashem is called on this world with the name “Adon” (Master), which represents the revelation of His ratzon. The soul contains havayah and ratzon as well, and therefore, there is no soul which does not have garments (nor are the garments without a soul). For this reason, a person cannot derive all of his happiness just from havayah, from the mere fact that he has an existence. That is a happiness which comes from before Creation, and if a person would try to live in it, he is denying the bounds of the Torah, which apply to the current level of Creation we are in. He would be denying the design which Hashem created the world with. Our simchah is therefore derived both from the essence of our soul (our havayah) as well as from the garments of our soul (our ratzon). From the perspective of our soul’s garments, our simchah is derived from our retzonos. From the higher perspective, which is from our soul’s essence, our simchah is drawn from havayah itself. But if one tries to draw his simchah only from havayah, he is trying to place himself completely in the state of before creation (where there was simchah only in havayah), and he is being heretical. He wouldn’t rejoice in anything that came after creation, such as the day where we received the Torah or when the Beis HaMikdash was built, because he would only be happy with the state of before creation. We must be happy with the many “garments” that Hashem created, which is His ratzon, not His havayah, and this is how Hashem has willed it. There is a statement in the Zohar13, “He and His will are one” – from a subtle understanding, there is happiness in “Him”, and there is also happiness in “His will”. If one would attempt to draw forth simchah from either “Him” but not in “His will”, or in “His will” but not in “Him”, either of these scenarios are the roots of heresy that we find in the world. To have some understanding of havayah, we know that there is such a concept of “ones”, one who is exempt from doing a mitzvah, due to various circumstances which do not enable him to fulfill the mitzvah which are not his fault. When a person does a mitzvah willingly, this is the level of ratzon, but if he is forced to do it, this is “ones”. But by the giving of the Torah, we were forced to accept it, because our very havayah demands that we have the Torah, whether we have a ratzon for it or not. We must also have a ratzon from it, but we are obligated in it due to our very havayah which Hashem has designed us with.
Tiferes – At Peace With Contradicting Desires
Let us now return to understanding the simchah that comes from tiferes, which is when we unite with that which opposes us and we can contain them. There are two levels of how tiferes can reveal simchah. One way is when we reveal opposites and we can contain them. When a person has many retzonos, his retzonos reveal opposites. This is a deep point to understand, as follows.
Our good and evil inclinations are both called “yetzer” – we have a yetzer tov and a yetzer hora. The word yetzer is rooted in the word ratzon. Whenever we want something, we always want something else which is the opposite of that thing. This is the deep reason of why we are not able to perfectly happy even when we get what we want. It is because for everything that we want, there is something else we want which contradicts it, due to the contradicting forces that are within us (our yetzer tov and our yetzer hora). For this reason, the simchah we attain from getting what want is never complete, because deep down, we always want something else at the same time! Even when we want something, we are not always consciously aware that we really want something else at the same time, which completely contradicts what we want. In other words, we are really not sure of what we truly want! If you think about this, it can change your entire perspective towards yourself. Now we can see what the joy of “tiferes” is. It is when a person can be at peace with contradictions, with that which opposes him. A tzaddik reaches this level completely. He recognizes the contradicting desires within himself yet he is at peace with it, and he sees all of these retzonos as offshoots of the inner ratzon of the soul, which is the desire to do Hashem’s will. (This is not referring to the concept of nullifying the ratzon, but to be at peace with it even when it is contradicted by some other ratzon.) This is the depth of how we can derive simchah from within our very retzonos. Normally, contradicting desires within us cause us to be sad. Either we can nullify those desires (bittul haratzon), which will bring us happiness, or, we can be at peace with the contradictions (tiferes). But when we notice the contradicting desires, we need to see them all as “garments” and offshoots of one desire alone – the desire to do Hashem’s will. In summary, our simchah must come from both our havayah (our existence itself, which is part and parcel with Hashem), and our retzonos (which must be unified into the desire to do Hashem’s will, through doing His mitzvos), and together, these two forces of the soul are the sources of simchah that we can currently attain.