Kenneth Cohen

Happiness and Worry

The Messilat Yesharim is a book that gives step by step instructions as to how a person is able to elevate himself spiritually.

The Ramchal expresses the goal of reaching the level of Chasdidut, which is translated as “piety.” This refers to an individual who has worked on himself to such a point that every action he does, is for the sole purpose of making Hashem proud of him.

Yet, despite having achieved such elevation, the Ramchal warns that this could be lost when one allows himself to be in a state of worry. When this worry is accompanied with too much focusing on worldly matters (watching the news!), he will quickly fall from his previous lofty situation.

To combat this, it is suggested that a person contemplate the greatness of G-d. It is recommended to study chapters of Tehillim, to become inspired by the passion King David had, in his own personal closeness to Hashem.

It is interesting to note that the Orchot Tzaddikim wrote his book based on parallel personality traits. He dealt with arrogance-humility, love-hate, generosity-miserliness. But when it came to the opposite of happiness, it was not sadness as we’d expect. The Orchot Tzaddikim felt that the opposite of happiness was worry.

The Mussar books all speak of doing our best to eliminate worry from our lives. It is a very unnecessary and destructive emotion. We must work to get to the point of complete reliance on Hashem, and acquire the faith that He is taking care of us and providing us with all our needs. We must not let worry take away our happiness.

About the Author
Rabbi Cohen has been a Torah instructor at Machon Meir, Jerusalem, for over twenty years while also teaching a Talmud class in the Shtieblach of Old Katamon. Before coming to Israel, he was the founding rabbi of Young Israel of Century City, Los Angeles. He recently published a series of Hebrew language-learning apps, which are available at