Joy Is a Choice, Not Something That Happens to You
We are now in the month of Adar—the most joyous month of the Jewish calendar. This month, the Torah instructs us to be joyous. But who’s in the mood?
With war raging in Israel and shameless antisemitism all over the world, it’s hardly the time for celebration. Well over one hundred men, women, and children are still languishing in Hamas dungeons in Gaza, our soldiers are fighting for our lives, and our college students are being relentlessly harassed. What do we have to be happy about?
In truth, we need to be joyous now, more than ever before! The Torah teaches us that happiness is not the result of our success—it’s the cause of it!
As the Alter Rebbe, founder of Chabad lay on his deathbed, breathing his final breaths on December 27, 1812, he turned to his heartbroken grandson who ultimately became his successor—the Tzemach Tzedek—and said:
“Your inner state of mind affects reality! Do not sing songs with tunes of depression. The world is like a mirror. When you reflect an image of sadness and dread, that is what comes back to you. The Divine energy mirrors your inner reality.’ (Igros Kodesh Tzemach Tzedek p. 324)”
Indeed, the Zohar (Volume 2 Tzetave 184b) magnificently states:
“The Lower World is always ready to receive…the Upper World only gives according to the state of the Lower World. If it is a state of bright countenance from below, in the same manner will be shone from above. But if it is in sadness from below, it is correspondingly given sadness from above.”
Our perception of reality is expressed through our emotional state. Adopting a joyous attitude to everything that ever happens to us is the key to having G-d’s miraculous blessings rain down upon us. When we recall that wherever we are and whatever we face, we are not in it alone, because the Master of the Universe is with us by our side at all times, we dance with joy knowing that all will be well. Hashem has a plan, and He knows what He is doing! He’s got this, even if we have no clue what He is thinking.
This is why Chabadniks are always happy, no matter what. The Rebbe would always encourage joyous singing and dancing at public gatherings—because this attitude gives you the latitude to reach your magnitude!
The highlight of the month of Adar is the joyous festival of Purim. During this holiday, we celebrate the victory of the Jewish People—under the leadership of Queen Esther and Mordechai—over the vicious Persian anti-Semite Haman, 2200 years ago. Esther had the providential good fortune of being chosen as queen, a position that allowed her to solicit her husband, King Achashverosh, for the benefit of her People.
In a carefully choreographed plan, Esther invited her husband the king together with Haman to a private feast for just the three of them. But curiously, Queen Esther declined to voice her appeal to the King to eliminate Haman at the feast, requesting instead that they regroup for a second feast, the very next day. Our sages explain that the reason for Esther’s decision to delay her appeal was Haman’s elevated emotional state at the first feast. Having realized that he was the only civilian chosen to dine with the king and queen, he was filled with joy. His happiness thus rendered him invincible—notwithstanding his nefarious personality. It was only at the second feast, when Haman’s joy had significantly abated, that Esther was ready to successfully solicit the king to destroy our nation’s nemesis.
It’s no coincidence that the Torah advises us to schedule all of our precarious appointments during the month of Adar—surgeries, court hearings, closings and job interviews that happen in Adar have far higher success rates. Far from a superficial superstition related to the timing, the increased joy that we choose to adopt at this time is the real source of the blessing we are sure to experience as a result!
When we see a child crying—we instinctively ask, “What’s wrong?” Yet when it comes to an adult, the exact opposite is true. When we see an adult grinning from ear to ear, we ask “What’s wrong with you?” It’s time for us to reclaim our happy, inner child. We were born with a bias towards happiness, but we lost our way as we matured into a world filled with falsehood. The Torah illuminates our way to unapologetically choose to be happy, with the full awareness that this is the key to securing G-d’s blessings of health, success, and prosperity upon us.
As we face the seemingly impossible situation in Israel, we mustn’t get stuck like a deer in the headlights. Remember to look up and recall the all-powerful presence of G-d Almighty who has what it takes to solve your problems! Realize that it’s only impossible from your perspective; Hashem has His own way of dealing with things. Jewish history is proof of this. The fact that we are still here defies rhyme and reason.
So often we think that we are the authors of our own book, but Hashem has a much better ending in mind! In this special month in the Jewish Calendar, let us choose joy—to free the hostages; happiness—to heal the injured, positivity—to win the war as we confidently march to the ultimate reward—the era of global peace and higher consciousness, with the arrival of the much-anticipated Moshiach.