לע"נ סבי ר' אלכסנדר זושא בן ר' יוסף
How to be happy - Tanya Chapter 26:
בְּרַם כְּגוֹן דָּא צָרִיךְ לְאוֹדוּעֵי כְּלָל גָּדוֹל. כִּי כְּמוֹ שֶׁנִּצָּחוֹן לְנַצֵּחַ דָּבָר גַּשְׁמִי, כְּגוֹן שְׁנֵי אֲנָשִׁים הַמִּתְאַבְּקִים זֶה עִם זֶה לְהַפִּיל זֶה אֶת זֶה, הִנֵּה אִם הָאֶחָד הוּא בְּעַצְלוּת וּכְבֵדוּת, יְנֻצַּח בְּקַל וְיִפֹּל, גַּם אִם הוּא גִּבּוֹר יוֹתֵר מֵחֲבֵרוֹ. כָּכָה מַמָּשׁ בְּנִצְחוֹן הַיֵּצֶר, אִי אֶפְשָׁר לְנַצְּחוֹ בְּעַצְלוּת וּכְבֵדוּת הַנִּמְשָׁכוֹת מֵעַצְבוּת וְטִמְטוּם הַלֵּב כָּאֶבֶן, כִּי אִם בִּזְרִיזוּת הַנִּמְשֶׁכֶת מִשִּׂמְחָה וּפְתִיחַת הַלֵּב וְטָהֳרָתוֹ מִכָּל נִדְנוּד דְּאָגָה וָעֶצֶב בָּעוֹלָם.
וּמַה שֶּׁכָּתוּב: "בְּכָל עֶצֶב יִהְיֶה מוֹתָר", פֵּרוּשׁ, שֶׁיִּהְיֶה אֵיזֶה יִתְרוֹן וּמַעֲלָה מִזֶּה. הִנֵּה אַדְּרַבָּה מִלָּשׁוֹן זֶה מַשְׁמָע שֶׁהָעֶצֶב מִצַּד עַצְמוֹ אֵין בּוֹ מַעֲלָה, רַק שֶׁיַּגִּיעַ וְיָבֹא מִמֶּנּוּ אֵיזֶה יִתְרוֹן, וְהַיְנוּ הַשִּׂמְחָה הָאֲמִתִּית בַּה' אֱלֹהָיו, הַבָּאָה אַחַר הָעֶצֶב הָאֲמִתִּי לְעִתִּים מְזֻמָּנִים עַל עֲוֹנוֹתָיו בְּמַר נַפְשׁוֹ וְלֵב נִשְׁבָּר, שֶׁעַל יְדֵי זֶה נִשְׁבָּרָה רוּחַ הַטֻּמְאָה וְסִטְרָא אַחֲרָא וּמְחִצָּה שֶׁל בַּרְזֶל הַמַּפְסֶקֶת בֵּינוֹ לְאָבִיו שֶׁבַּשָּׁמַיִם, כְּמוֹ שֶּׁכָּתוּב בַּזֹּהַר עַל פָּסוּק "רוּחַ נִשְׁבָּרָה לֵב נִשְׁבָּר" וגו'. וַאֲזַי יְקֻיַּם בּוֹ רֵישֵׁהּ דִּקְרָא: "תַּשְׁמִיעֵנִי שָׂשֹוֹן וְשִׂמְחָה" וגו', "הָשִׁיבָה לִי שְׂשֹוֹן יִשְׁעֶךָ וְרוּחַ נְדִיבָה" וגו'.
וְזֶהוּ טַעַם הַפָּשׁוּט לְתִקּוּן הָאֲרִ"י זַ"ל, לוֹמַר מִזְמוֹר זֶה אַחַר תִּקּוּן חֲצוֹת קֹדֶם הַלִּמּוּד, כְּדֵי לִלְמֹד בְּשִׂמְחָה אֲמִתִּית בַּה' הַבָּאָה אַחַר הָעֶצֶב, שֶׁיֵּשׁ לְשִׂמְחָה זוֹ יִתְרוֹן כְּיִתְרוֹן הָאוֹר הַבָּא מִן הַחֹשֶׁךְ דַּוְקָא, כְּמוֹ שֶׁכָּתוּב בַּזֹּהַר עַל פָּסוּק "וְרָאִיתִי... שֶׁיֵּשׁ יִתְרוֹן לַחָכְמָה מִן הַסִּכְלוּת כִּיתְרוֹן הָאוֹר" כו' עַיֵּן שָׁם, וְדַי לַמֵּבִין. וּמִקְרָא מָלֵא דִּבֵּר הַכָּתוּב: "תַּחַת אֲשֶׁר לֹא עָבַדְתָּ אֶת ה' אֱלֹהֶיךָ בְּשִׂמְחָה" וגו', וְנוֹדָע לַכֹּל פֵּרוּשׁ הָאֲרִ"י זַ"ל עַל פָּסוּק זֶה.
וְהִנֵּה עֵצָה הַיְּעוּצָה לְטַהֵר לִבּוֹ מִכָּל עֶצֶב וְנִדְנוּד דְּאָגָה מִמִּלֵּי דְּעָלְמָא, וַאֲפִלּוּ בְּנֵי חַיֵּי וּמְזוֹנֵי, מֻדַּעַת זֹאת לְכָל מַאֲמַר רַזַ"ל: "כְּשֵׁם שֶׁמְּבָרֵךְ עַל הַטּוֹבָה" כו', וּפֵרְשׁוּ בִּגְמָרָא, לְקַבּוּלֵי בְּשִׂמְחָה, כְּמוֹ שִׂמְחַת הַטּוֹבָה הַנִּגְלֵית וְנִרְאֵית. כִּי גַּם זוֹ לְטוֹבָה, רַק שֶׁאֵינָה נִגְלֵית וְנִרְאֵית לְעֵינֵי בָּשָׂר, כִּי הִיא מֵעָלְמָא דְּאִתְכַּסְיָא שֶׁלְּמַעְלָה מֵעָלְמָא דְּאִתְגַּלְיָא, שֶׁהוּא וָי"ו הֵ"א מִשֵּׁם הֲוָיָ"ה בָּרוּךְ הוּא, וְעָלְמָא דְּאִתְכַּסְיָא הוּא יוֹ"ד הֵ"א. וְזֶהוּ שֶׁאָמַר: "אַשְׁרֵי הַגֶּבֶר אֲשֶׁר תְּיַסְּרֶנּוּ יָ"הּ" וגו'.
וְלָכֵן אָמְרוּ רַזַ"ל כִּי הַשְּׂמֵחִים בְּיִסּוּרִים, עֲלֵיהֶם הַכָּתוּב אוֹמֵר: "וְאוֹהֲבָיו כְּצֵאת הַשֶּׁמֶשׁ בִּגְבוּרָתוֹ", כִּי הַשִּׂמְחָה הִיא מֵאַהֲבָתוֹ קִרְבַת ה' יוֹתֵר מִכָּל חַיֵּי הָעוֹלָם הַזֶּה, כְּדִכְתִיב: "כִּי טוֹב חַסְדְּךָ מֵחַיִּים" וגו'. וְקִרְבַת ה' הִיא בְּיֶתֶר שְׂאֵת וּמַעֲלָה לְאֵין קֵץ בְּעָלְמָא דְּאִתְכַּסְיָא, כִּי שָׁם חֶבְיוֹן עֻזּוֹ וְיוֹשֵׁב בְּסֵתֶר עֶלְיוֹן. וְעַל כֵּן זוֹכֶה לְצֵאת הַשֶּׁמֶשׁ בִּגְבוּרָתוֹ לֶעָתִיד לָבֹא, שֶׁהִיא יְצִיאַת הַחַמָּה מִנַּרְתֵּקָהּ שֶׁהִיא מְכֻסָּה בּוֹ בָּעוֹלָם הַזֶּה, וְלֶעָתִיד תִּתְגַּלֶּה מִכִּסּוּיָהּ. דְּהַיְנוּ שֶׁאָז יִתְגַּלֶה עָלְמָא דְּאִתְכַּסְיָא וְיִזְרַח וְיָאִיר בְּגִלּוּי רַב וְעָצוּם לְכָל הַחוֹסִים בּוֹ בָּעוֹלָם הַזֶּה וּמִסְתּוֹפְפִים בְּצִלּוֹ, צֵל הַחָכְמָה, שֶׁהוּא בְּחִינַת צֵל וְלֹא אוֹרָה וְטוֹבָה נִרְאֵית, וְדַי לַמֵּבִין.
אַךְ הָעַצְבוּת מִמִּלֵּי דִּשְׁמַיָּא, צָרִיךְ לָשִׁית עֵצוֹת בְּנַפְשׁוֹ לִפָּטֵר מִמֶּנָּה. אֵין צָרִיךְ לוֹמַר בִּשְׁעַת עֲבוֹדָה, שֶׁצָּרִיךְ לַעֲבֹד ה' בְּשִׂמְחָה וּבְטוּב לֵבָב. אֶלָּא אֲפִלּוּ מִי שֶׁהוּא בַּעַל עֲסָקִים וְדֶרֶךְ אֶרֶץ, אִם נוֹפֵל לוֹ עֶצֶב וּדְאָגָה מִמִּלֵּי דִּשְׁמַיָּא בִּשְׁעַת עֲסָקָיו, בְּיָדוּעַ שֶׁהוּא תַּחְבֻּלַּת הַיֵּצֶר כְּדֵי לְהַפִּילוֹ אַחַר כָּךְ בְּתַאֲווֹת חַס וְשָׁלוֹם, כַּנּוֹדָע. שֶׁאִם לֹא כֵן, מֵאַיִן בָּאָה לוֹ עַצְבוּת אֲמִתִּית מֵחֲמַת אַהֲבַת ה' אוֹ יִרְאָתוֹ בְּאֶמְצַע עֲסָקָיו?
וְהִנֵּה, בֵּין שֶׁנָּפְלָה לוֹ הָעַצְבוּת בִּשְׁעַת עֲבוֹדָה בְּתַלְמוּד תּוֹרָה אוֹ בִּתְפִלָּה, וּבֵין שֶׁנָּפְלָה לוֹ שֶׁלֹּא בִּשְׁעַת עֲבוֹדָה, זֹאת יָשִׂים אֶל לִבּוֹ, כִּי אֵין הַזְּמָן גְּרָמָא כָּעֵת לְעַצְבוּת אֲמִתִּית, אֲפִלּוּ לְדַאֲגַת עֲוֹנוֹת חֲמוּרִים חַס וְשָׁלוֹם. רַק לָזֹאת צָרִיךְ קְבִיעוּת עִתִּים וּשְׁעַת הַכֹּשֶׁר בְּיִשּׁוּב הַדַּעַת, לְהִתְבּוֹנֵן בִּגְדֻלַּת ה' אֲשֶׁר חָטָא לוֹ, כְּדֵי שֶׁעַל יְדֵי זֶה יִהְיֶה לִבּוֹ נִשְׁבָּר בֶּאֱמֶת בִּמְרִירוּת אֲמִתִּית; וְכַמְּבוֹאָר עֵת זוֹ בְּמָקוֹם אַחֵר. וְשָׁם נִתְבָּאֵר גַּם כֵּן, כִּי מִיָּד אַחַר שֶׁנִּשְׁבַּר לִבּוֹ בָּעִתִּים קְבוּעִים הָהֵם, אֲזַי יָסִיר הָעֶצֶב מִלִּבּוֹ לְגַמְרֵי, וְיַאֲמִין אֱמוּנָה שְׁלֵמָה כִּי ה' הֶעֱבִיר חַטָּאתוֹ וְרַב לִסְלֹחַ. וְזוֹ הִיא הַשִּׂמְחָה הָאֲמִתִּית בַּה' הַבָּאָה אַחַר הָעֶצֶב כַּנִּזְכָּר לְעֵיל.
Rabbi Michael Zev Wineberg
How to deal with sadness
The following 6 ideas are introduced / explained in this chapter:
Sadness is Un-Jewish
How to be happy in the face of physical suffering
Where Guilt Comes From
Beating Bad Guilt
Remorse Needs a Dedicated Time
The Yetzer Hara vs. Yetzer Tov boxing match.
Just like in a wrestling or a boxing match a person who is lazy or feeling sluggish will lose to the more alert energetic person even if the other person is weaker than them so to in the battle against the Yetzer Hara; Being alert which comes from being happy is fundamental to being able to conquer the Yetzer Hara.
It is impossible to beat the battle with the Yetzer Hara if a person is feeling lazy and sluggish (which stems from sadness and a feeling of dullness / heaviness in the heart.) A person can only beat the Yetzer Hara if they are feeling alert, (which comes from joy and an open i.e. happy heart, and a heart which is free from all worries or sadness whatever the cause may be.)
Sadness is Un-Jewish
The joy factor
As for the verse that “there is a benefit in sadness” this does not mean that sadness is a benefit but that there is a benefit to sadness.
It works like this, if a person is arrogant they cannot be happy for then their heart is alone and they are not unified with G-d, however if a person breaks their arrogance through telling themselves that they are bad and arrogant, then after they have become depressed and sad, they should remind themselves that G-d loves them and thereby bring joy to themselves. Now that they broke the Kelipos within themselves they can truly be joyous for previously the Kelipos were dividing and separating them from G-d. This current joy is thus “the benefit” of the sadness. In other words the benefit is not in the sadness but in the subsequent joy that follows the sadness.
This is why the holy Ari taught that after a time of sadness (such as in a sad part of prayer) one should infuse oneself with joy, for a. the joy following the sadness allows one to serve G-d joyfully and b. in fact is a far greater level of joy then normal joy.
This is similar to the homily by the wisest of all men King Solomon who said “I have see that light is better than darkness.” Now this observation is pretty obvious, but what King Solomon is really teaching is that it is only the man who has been subjected to darkness whom can truly appreciate – and thus rejoices in – light. Similarly, the joy that comes after sadness is a far greater form of joy; (and perhaps a more permanent one as well.)
The holy Ari explains that the emphasis of the verse that tells the Jewish people to be happy Jews, to “serve G-d joyfully,” is not on the service of G-d but on the joy that accompanies the service to G-d.
(This underscores a central tenet of Chasidic philosophy (and the main point the author is bringing forth currently) that joy must be a constant presence in the Jews life and this is a fundamental principle in the life of a Jew. (This is in contradistinction to other Jewish philosophies that often used fear of damnation as a means of trying to bring man closer to G-d.)
* * *
How to be happy in the face of physical suffering
A Hidden Good
How can man be constantly happy, particularly in the face of physical hardship such as financial pressure or a sick child (Chas Vshalom,) or even one’s own ailing health or physical pain?
(Firstly I must write (this is the translator writing) that much of what ails us today is not as bad as the ailments of yesteryear. The financial pressures of today are largely self-imposed. There is no need for BMW’s and taking out a second mortgage to make the kitchen more modern; furthermore many of the diseases that would cause endless grief to people, and to parents, have been eradicated or are easily preventable; (in the olden days children would often Nebach die young;) and even if one is ill G-d forbid or in pain many modern medicines and pain killers have helped ease the suffering. This is not to say that there is no genuine suffering; illnesses such as cancer still ravage human bodies, often there is financial pressure just to keep the basic of lifestyles going, with sometimes both husband and wife working hard, and sometimes G-d forbid a child is genuinely ill in a life threatening situation, so we will speak about these genuine problems later.
For now I want to focus on the saying of our Sages that “who is rich? Someone who is happy with what they have.” I was very impressed watching a program regarding a British lady who married a poor black man from Zanzibar. Their lifestyle is pretty much third world (tiny house, no running water, bread, just a basic staple etc.) however she correctly said that “there are problems everywhere” so while often the water and the power don’t work nevertheless there are other problems elsewhere (such as crime, congestion, loneliness) which is not a problem in her part of Zanzibar. Here is a woman who instead of feeling sorry for herself was happy with the good that she had in her life.
Let us compare her with the daughter of a billionaire banker who went on a summer trip with my cousin a Rabbi from a South American country. This girl went with her friends to the largest toy store in the U.S. All the children were having a grand old time buying the latest and coolest toys while this girl was sad and sat alone in a little aisle. My cousin asked her “what is the problem?” “I have all these toys already?” she said. So the child, not being able to appreciate the gift of what she had, could only feel sad.
So before we speak about how to be happy in the face of genuine problems we need to speak about how to be happy in the face of genuine blessings.
Why is it that one person is happy with a little, and another is sad with everything?
The classic story is of Jacob and Esav who met, both being exceptionally wealthy, and when Jacob offered a large gift to his brother Esav his brother said “you keep it for I have a lot.” Jacob said, “No you take it for I have everything.”
The fundamental difference between these two approaches is gratitude, Jacob was grateful for what he had, thus he felt he had everything he needed (for this reason he could also share what he had with others;) on the other hand Esau who was being magnanimous believed that he could always have more which is why he said “I have a lot” but there is never really enough. I recall reading an interview with Ted Turner who was complaining that he couldn’t buy things with his money for “after two hundred million which could purchase five houses and an airplane what else is there to buy.” He has the Esav problem.)
Now getting back to the authors advice, when there is a genuine shortage of money or illness G-d forbid a person should remember that everything that G-d does (which is everything) G-d does for the best. However there are two worlds (in Heaven) that emanate all that happens below. (In fact the Sages teach that a button doesn’t fall off ones shirt without it being preordained in Heaven, so every joy and every stress is directly given from Heaven for a reason.)
We should not think that stress is a punishment rather it comes from another world in Heaven which is the spiritual reward side. For every stress in this world, a person (who accepts it joyfully as a gift from G-d) will receive untold fortunes in the next world. This is very much like a bank account where one worked exceptionally hard to put money into the account however as the money is there it begins to accrue interest and slowly but surely with time the person becomes fabulously wealthy.
The verse says that for “those who accept difficulties with joy, G-d loves them like the strength of the sun”. What does this mean? We know that when Moshiach comes G-d will unleash the full power of the sun (we are currently protected from its full power by a covering over the sun.) This full strength will be the reward for people who accepted suffering joyfully, knowing that everything that G-d does is for the best.
In a Kabbalistic sense everything comes from Heaven but there is the “Hidden Heaven” and the “Revealed Heaven,” the “Hidden Heaven” is represented by G-d’s first two letters of the name Yud – Hay – Vav – Hay and the final two letters represent the “Revealed Heaven.” The “Hidden Heaven” is where the source for everything spiritually good comes which often does include suffering/ darkness in this world for “sunlight” in the next. (Perhaps this is why before people die there is often a period of suffering in order for them to enter Heaven with zero interruptions and conversely sometimes the wicked are paid-off in full measure in this world and they have no share in the next world. This is what King Solomon said, “I have seen a reward which is a punishment.” Sort of like someone getting a large severance pay after being fired, as the money was only in order to fire (get rid of) the person.)
However that which is revealed goodness, comes from the “Revealed Heaven,” the last two letters of G-d’s name.
(Translator: I recall my father writing to me during a difficult period that I went through that from Heaven there comes kindness and strictness, and one should never expect only kindness, (again strictness is not punishment rather it is a hidden good. To expect only kindness would be like a student only expecting their teacher to do exactly what they want which would lead to the student never learning anything at all.)
Incidentally this is also the nature of our prayers; we are not asking G-d to take away the benefit of the suffering rather that he should show us revealed kindness instead.
The story is told of the third Lubavitcher Rebbe the Tzemach Tzedek who once showed a great deal of affection to a very simple man. His son – later to become the fourth Lubavitcher Rebbe tried to find out if there was anything special about this man. All his enquiries lead nowhere so finally he asked his father – the Rebbe – why he showed such special attention to this simple person. The Rebbe replied that “this man has a very very hard life yet he never complains” and regarding such a man it states that G-d loves them like the strength of the sun. So although the average person saw a simple man the Rebbe saw the greatest man of all, for his acceptance of everything that G-d does is one of the greatest levels of holiness achievable, as it shows an absolute trust in G-d; One who has a complete trust in G-d like a child who had complete faith in their parents lovingly accepts any rebuke without the slightest hint of resentment or anger knowing that everything the parent does for them is only for his own benefit.
From everything that I have studied I have concluded that life on earth is about trusting that G-d knows what he is doing; this is like pilots who upon entering training school are told to trust the odometer; if the pilot feels that he is going up and the odometer say that he is going down he must learn to ignore his own instincts and emotions in favor of the message from the odometer. This trust will save the pilots life every time. Similarly one must learn to trust that only G-d’s way will bring man happiness and everything that G-d does is part of his way. Furthermore the Baal Shem Tov teaches that when we see the good in bad, G-d changes bad to good.)
Where Guilt Comes From
Conquering sadness emanating from worrying about ones spiritual state (and recognizing the Yetzer Hara’s tactics)
When someone is doing something good immediately the Yetzer Hara tries to “change the subject.” A person should know that if while they are dong good they are feeling sadness over their spiritual state (i.e. guilty over sins) this is simply a ploy by the Yetzer Hara to bring them down (and eventually cause them to sin.) The proof of this is for if this was emanating from the Yetzer Tov it would certainly not be happening while someone is in the midst of doing a good thing.
(Translator: I have to say in my own life the Yetzer Hara works on overdrive whenever I am involved in something good. While I am eating or preparing for bed I do not feel that what I am doing is wrong, however as soon as I start doing a good thing the Yetzer Hara immediately tries to show me how I am wrong in this, or in some other, thing which effectively is meant to divert my attention away from doing the good thing I am doing. It has taken me years to become accustomed to the Yetzer Hara’s behavior / taunts which now allows me to usually just ignore it for I know that he is simply a trouble-maker that needs to be ignored in order for me to carry on doing a good thing.)
Even if someone is in middle of their work day and suddenly they feel sad about their spiritual state (if their work is a positive thing such as providing for their family etc.) then this too is part of the Yetzer Hara’s tactics. He is trying to make the individual sad and depressed and eventually get the person to sin; (in fact the Baal Shem Tov teaches that “more than the Yetzer Hara wants man to sin, the Yetzer Hara wants man to feel guilty (and thus sad and depressed) over their sins”).
Beating Bad Guilt
How to respond to the thoughts of sadness over ones spiritual state
Whether this thought of sadness regarding ones spiritual state occurs to the person during Torah study or prayer or even during their workday, one should tell themselves that “this is not the time to be sad.” This applies even to severe sins that a person may have done and the Yetzer Hara is trying to get them to think about them, one should say that “now is not the time to think about it.” (In this way the person can be happy and thus have the energy and alertness to fight off the Yetzer Hara in all other spheres.)
Remorse Needs a Dedicated Time
The appropriate time to feel remorseful over ones sins
In truth one needs to make appropriate times to contemplate deeply about ones sins and realize that one has sinned against the great King of Kings, G-d, and one needs to reflect upon who G-d is, for only in this way will one truly feel remorseful over their sin. (One doesn’t usually feel great remorse over squashing an insect however by knowing G-d’s infinite greatness one will feel remorse for the pain caused to G-d by their sin. Perhaps this is similar to a child who understands his parent’s greatness and therefore feels more remorse over the pain they caused their parent than a normal child that doesn’t care much about it.)
(The time for this contemplation the author describes elsewhere.)
Furthermore after one has felt sadness one can truly feel joyful (as we learnt previously that one needs to contemplate that “G-d in his great mercy has forgiven me” and like we said, the joy after sadness is like the greatness of light after darkness.)