Behind the Scenes of Happiness
I have befriended someone who is asking me many questions about Judaism. He wants to know if Judaism specifically says anything about enjoying life. I thought I once heard that the Torah says one is obligated to benefit from the pleasures that
G-dgave us, (obviously within reason), and we were meant to be happy. Can you please confirm or correct this.
The Torah in Parshat Ki Tavo writes:
"Tachat asher lo avadata et Hashem b'simcha...."
"Because (tachat) you did not serve the L-rd your
Maimonides states that from here we learn that one is supposed to serve
If you stop and think about it, we shouldn't need a verse in the Torah to tell us this. It should be common sense that we should be happy. So why command us to do something that is common sense? A parable told by the Alexander Rav provides an answer.
There was a boy who was trained by his tutor to read the Aleph Bet. One day the father proudly stood by to watch his son recite the letters with the vowels. The boy began, "Komatz Aleph Aw, Komatz Bet Baw, etc." until he came to Komatz Hey...suddenly he couldn't continue. The father was embarrassed and pleaded strongly with his son. "Come on you can do it! Just look under (tachat) the Hey, what's under the Hey? What’s under the HEY!?"
At which point the boy burst out in tears and declared, "But father, you told me not to tell anyone that you hid a stolen calf under the hay!"
Just as this easy task for the boy was blocked by something underneath and behind the scenes, so it can be with happiness. Happiness should come easily in life. However, sometimes something underneath prevents this happiness. The Torah reminds us that our job is to deal with these underlying factors and open the way to serving
- Devarim 28:47
- Maimonides - The Codes, The Halachot of Lulav, 8:15
- Mayana Shel Torah - Devarim, 28:47