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I would be happy, if only…

Thursday, 11 September, 2014 - 9:56 am

In this week’s parsha, Ki Tavo, there is a description of the curses that would affect G-d’s people if they did not serve Him in a proper way after entering the Land. These include famine, war, illness and exile. In warning against negative behavior which would cause of these consequences, there is one cause that is very surprising. “Because you did not serve the Eternal, your G-d with joy and a happy heart when you had plenty of everything (Deuteronomy 28:47).”
Why would G-d consider unhappiness a transgression deserving of such consequences? What is the basis of this ignoble unhappiness?
People generally have a superficial understanding of happiness. They feel that they would be happy, if only… People often think that they are affected by outside situations that happen to them. If the situation is good, they’re happy; if not, they’re unhappy. When tempted by this superficial view, they can forget G-d. They are capable of giving up their principles and values and do almost anything in order to be happy. They look for some panacea coming from outside of themselves. This false way of thinking often results in a perpetual state of unhappiness as they look for the elusive “something” that will “make” them happy. All their blessings are deemed as not enough if the seemingly missing piece is not there.
G-d guides us with His Torah and mitzvos that shape our values and principles. Each of us has a purpose. Every situation is an opportunity to live with Torah values and principles, enabling us to make the world a better place. When we do something G-dly and good with all of our being, we have an opportunity to experience tremendous joy. We’ve enabled the Divine Presence to enter our environment and change a small part of the world. Joy results from the understanding that G-d is with us and we are His partners in creation. 
Happiness is a choice. It’s up to us to make a decision to be happy. Happiness is not the result of something outside of ourselves. Our happiness is based on our attitude. We can choose to look at Divine Providence, recognizing G-d’s involvement in our personal lives. Gratitude is part of a happy attitude. When we choose to do kind deeds and mitzvos, we have joy in bringing good and blessing into the world. G-d blesses every one of us with so many blessings. We can use them to serve G-d with joy and a happy heart. Then our lives are filled with blessings and we can happily bring more blessing into the world.

Chana Rachel Schusterman
Spiritual Teacher, Counselor and Public Speaker

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