The Road to Happiness

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Translation by Yehoshua Siskin

Recent unhappy news has damaged our mood. A new wave of the coronavirus is upon us. There are thousands of new daily cases in Israel and there is even talk of another lockdown. In this time of anxiety, the word "simcha" (joy/happiness) appears 7 times in our Torah portion of the week. When we examine the context, we discover that happiness does not necessarily arrive when everything is calm and perfect and we are getting everything we want. Instead, happiness is most likely to come when we give to others and share our joy with them.

Here is an example. "And you shall rejoice in your Festival - you, and your son, and your daughter, and your manservant, and your maidservant, and the Levite, and the stranger, and the orphan, and the widow, who are within your gates" (Deuteronomy 16:14). In other words, happiness includes sharing with the needy and the weak around us. Time after time, happiness appears in our Torah portion when it includes the servant, the widow, the stranger, the orphan, and the poor. Happiness takes us outside the "I" and into the "we." Happiness involves giving and not taking. Could it be that searching for those who are alone or sick or needy in our neighborhood, and reaching out to our own family members who are both near and far away - is the road to personal happiness?

This Torah portion takes us down a fascinating road. It's not a road where we find happiness through achievement on the one hand or quiet repose on the other, but a road where we care about others and share with them. In the Torah, this is the road that leads to happiness - a revolutionary kind of happiness to be sure.

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