Adarmain posts

Joyous All Year Round

Keep Smiling

The Talmud says, “From the day that the Holy Temple was destroyed, there is no laughter before the Holy One, Blessed Be He” (Avodah Zarah 3b). The Tosfot ask: In a different place in the Talmud, it says that after the sages proved to God that a particular law was not according to His determination, He smiled and said, “My children have triumphed over me.”

What is the difference between a smile and laughter? A smile is still within boundaries, while laughter breaks through barriers, like a person ‘rolling with laughter.’

Even during the time of exile, we are allowed to tell appropriate jokes and laugh. Indeed, we should not be depressed, as reiterated by the masters of Kabbalah and Chassidut. It is good to tell jokes and relate funny incidents such as when the sages proved to God that the law is not according to His opinion…

The consummate joy will be in the time of the redemption: “Then the laughter of our lips will be full.” In the meantime, however, we must be sure that we always have a smile on our faces!


Pure Joy

The Lubavitcher Rebbe coined the idiom “pure joy,” saying that pure joy is the way to bring redemption. On a basic level, this refers to the joy that is not dependent on any reason. We simply have to be joyous.

A Jew experiences tremendous joy with every mitzvah that he has the merit to fulfill. Nonetheless, the joy must be purified and cleansed of any self-consciousness (which clouds it).

The verse says, “Rejoice, righteous people, in God” (Psalms 97:12). Rejoice in God, and not in yourselves. When we have the privilege to fulfill a mitzvah, the main joy is not because of our personal achievement. Rather, we rejoice in the honor that God has afforded us by making it possible for us to perform the mitzvah. (For in truth, everything is from God: “Give Him what is His, for you and all that you have are His”).

When we nullify our self-consciousness, forget ourselves and focus strictly on the object of the joy – the joy becomes pure and infinite. Rejoice, tzaddikim, in God!


A Jew is Joyous in the Land of Israel

Two different verses in Psalms direct us to serve God in two different ways. One verse says, “Serve God with fear,” and the second verse says, “Serve God with joy” (Psalms 100:2). How do we fulfill both of these directives?

The Midrash says that non-Jews serve God with fear while Jews serve God with joy (Tanchuma 58). The Zohar says that service of God outside the Land of Israel is with fear, while service of God in the Land of Israel is with joy.

These two explanations complement each other: When a Jew serves God with fear, it is as if he lives outside the Land of Israel. His service of God is similar in some respects to non-Jews’ service of God. When a Jew serves God with joy, he connects to the service of the Land of Israel, “with joy and goodness of the heart from an abundance of everything.” This service is unique to the Jewish people, who have an inheritance in the Land of Israel.

Every person should ask himself: Am I joyous in my service of God? If so, I live in the Land of Israel. If, God forbid, not, it may be that I only think I live in the Land of Israel. Perhaps I live in the Diaspora, and I have to make aliyah to the Land of Israel.



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