Joy

Do you remember the thrill of hitting a home run? Getting out on the last day of school? Riding your new bicycle? You jump with joy. Fantastic!

Joy gives you energy and makes you feel great. You can achieve all kinds of things that otherwise may seem too difficult to attempt. With joy, you’re not afraid to talk to the guy sitting next to you on the plane. No problem! You’ve got energy, buoyancy. You’re alive!

True joy comes from the pleasure of growth and self-actualization – when we conquer a difficult challenge, or experience a moment of clarity.

When your team wins the World Series, or when you win the lottery, the joy is a delusion. Why? Because you did not change or grow.

Joy cannot result from events, from “good things happening to you.” Joy is solely the result of your reaction to life, your commitment to turning every moment into a growth experience. A new baby means you have to extend yourself at all hours of the day and night. That’s not easy. But if you focus – even at 3 a.m. – you’ll recognize this as real joy.

Do significant things and you will have more joy. If you are fighting for a cause, you are making an impact on the world. You are heavy. You are eternal.

-Rabbi Noah Weinberg
“Way #8, Constant Joy”
48 Ways to Wisdom
Aish.com

“Oh well,” he said after a moment. “Then I’ll dance, boss. Sit further away, so I don’t barge into you.”

He made a leap, rushed out of the hut, cast off his shoes, his coat, his vest, rolled his trousers up to his knees, and started dancing. His face was still black with coal. The whites of his eyes gleamed.

He threw himself into the dance, clapping his hands, leaping and pirouetting in the air, falling on to his knees, leaping again with his legs tucked up – it was as if he were made of rubber. He suddenly made tremendous bounds in to the air, as if he wished to conquer the laws of nature and fly away. One felt that in this old body of his there was a soul struggling to carry away this flesh and cast itself like a meteor into the darkness. It shook the body which fell back to earth, since it could not stay very long in the air; it shot it again pitilessly, this time a little higher, but the poor body fell again, breathless.

-Nikos Kazantzakis
Zorba the Greek (1946)

Joy is usually an occasional or even rare event in our lives, not a constant companion. But then, how many of us could endure a constant state of joy, as if we were old Zorba, pushing our bodies to the limit, dancing and leaping and trying to defy gravity until we finally collapse on the ground exhausted?

Actually, this sounds like another “unlikely sage” I described last spring; Moshe the Shepherd, who also expressed unbounded joy with almost limitless energy.

Then he got up and said, “Master of the world, I’m just a simple shepherd; I don’t know any Torah, and I don’t know how to pray. What can I do for You? The only thing I know is to sing shepherds’ songs!” He then began to sing loudly and fervently with all his strength until, again, he fell to the earth, exhausted, without an ounce of energy.

-Yitzchak Buxbaum
“The Shepherd”
from his book, Light and Fire of the Baal Shem Tov
quoted from Chabad.org

It’s the day after Yom Kippur. Either you feel elated or depressed. Like Elaina Cline said, “I used to hate Yom Kippur. Every year, as we blew the shofar and rushed home to eat, I would secretly breathe a huge sigh of relief. It was finally over – all the misery, the moroseness, the fear – until next year.”

You can hate Yom Kippur. You can dread confronting the darkest side of your soul. Or you can take joy in the opportunity to realize that what is worst about you is not who you really are. You are really a soul full of joy, singing, leaping, striving to reach your Creator, and to dance with God.

God does not desire that we remain in our pit of mud, sorrow, and regret. He didn’t create us to simply suffer and cry. We must have joy; we must take joy in Him, in all that He’s done for us, for creating our life, for giving us ambition and purpose, for granting us wings so that we can fly.

What is G‑d’s ultimate delight?

That a human soul will build portals of light so that the Creator’s presence may shine into His creation.

That a breath from His essence will pull herself out from the mud and turn to Him in love.

That a child of His being, exiled to the shadows of a physical world, will discover that the darkness is nothing more than Father hiding, waiting for His child to discover Him there.

But none of these can reach to the essence of all delights, the origin of all things, the hidden pleasure beyond all pleasures: The delight that this breath, this soul, this child did it all on its own.

-Rabbi Tzvi Freeman
“The Ultimate Delight”
Based on letters and talks of the Rebbe
Rabbi M. M. Schneerson
Chabad.org

Sukkah in the rainSukkot is coming soon; a time to build and decorate, a time to eat, drink, and celebrate. Who better to invite to the party than God. How shall we call out to Him and express our joy?

“And my tongue will express Your charity. Your praise all day long.”

Psalms 35:28

The charity that King David was referring to was the kindness and charity that the Almighty bestowed on him. Out of gratitude and appreciation for this, King David would praise Hashem all day long.

Fulfillment of this one verse would guarantee a person a life of happiness and gratitude – an elevated and spiritual life.

-Rabbi Zelig Pliskin
“A Guarantee of Happiness”
Daily Lift #587
Aish.com

Oh come, let us sing to the Lord;
let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation!
Let us come into his presence with thanksgiving;
let us make a joyful noise to him with songs of praise!
For the Lord is a great God,
and a great King above all gods.
In his hand are the depths of the earth;
the heights of the mountains are his also.
The sea is his, for he made it,
and his hands formed the dry land.
Oh come, let us worship and bow down;
let us kneel before the Lord, our Maker!

Psalm 95:1-6 (ESV)

Although life is no bed of roses and we face our burdens and struggles every day, God is with us. He cares about us, and makes the way clear for us to approach Him, from the greatest to the smallest, all of His creatures. Do not be afraid. Do not be discouraged. Even in the midst of your troubles, count it all joy.

Shavua Tov, chodesh tov, and shana tova!

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