Moshe-Mordechai van Zuiden
Psychology, Medicine, Science, Politics, Oppression, Integrity, Philosophy, Jews -- For those who like their news and truths frank and sharp

Simply be happy

A sermon that’ll leave you feeling good

A message especially for Jews. Just as with the Hebrew Bible, it’s a Jew addressing the Jews but the ideas are for everyone who cares to listen.

First a parallel: I was raised by honest parents surrounded by an honest culture so I came out honest — no great merit of mine. I found a book that wanted to explain how to be honest. So many twists and ingenuity to demonstrate how to do it! Instead of elaborate excuses for why one was dishonest, it used complicated ‘reasons’ for why to be honest. That’s not it.

Some people can seriously discuss for hours how to be happy and how to cry, without ever showing one sign of delight or one tear. That’s not it. One doesn’t need to reason oneself into being happy. Be happy. As Moses reports: [first] we’ll do and [only then] we’ll understand.

There are people who are very fine and deeply religious Jews who say that if you trust completely in G^d, it’s easy to be happy. I believe them. But I would say, Be happy first. It will help you with relying on G^d.

No child in the world wakes up in the morning and tries to reason herself or himself into a happy state. They just jump out of bed and smile.

The recipe is no different for grownups. Show how much energy you want to have and how happy you want to feel. The Ramchal already explained (centuries before behaviorism) that feelings follow action. (If you just sit there waiting to feel energy and happiness, only then to change anything, you may have to wait a lifetime.)

So, pull up the corners of your mouth, show a little teeth, let your eyes twinkle, and go do something.

But how is that not pretense? We don’t want to lie being happy. We don’t want to lie period. It’s not a lie because it’s true. Happiness shows our truest self. You can’t lie being yourself. But, you must allow your inside to follow your outside. Don’t just fake being happy as a mask. Mean it.

All my children are happy campers. One of them said to me at the age of five: I will always be happy. So I asked, What will you do when you go comfort mourners? He answered, Then I will be happy on the inside (בלב).

Some say that it’s not a good idea to complain because the Angels then say, You think that’s bad? We’ll show you. And that it’s a good idea to be happy because the Angels then say, You think that’s good? We’ll show you.

I could tell you a dozen good reasons for being happy. That happiness pushes out ungratefulness, arrogance, loneliness, coldness, selfishness, stinginess, numbness, pessimism, despair, heaviness and passivity, abusiveness, anger, revengefulness, quarreling, and stubbornness. I could show that it says that G^d demands happiness far above obedience. (G^d is not an idol that needs to be please. He lacks and wants nothing from us. He implores us to feel good.) All nice and dandy. But in the end, just do it.

Commerce makes good bucks telling us that if we’d buy their things or travel their destinations, then we’ll be happy. All lies. The best happiness comes without reason. If it is not caused (בחינם), no event can kill it. Happy בחינם also means, that it has no outside or ulterior motive or goal. You’re only happy because it’s such an excellent expression of you. The greatest number of unhappy people are among those who assume that they are entitled (to more). The happiest people are those satisfied with what they have. There’s no way to peace; peace is the way. Tell Americans that there’s no Pursuit of Happiness; happily should be the pursuit.

I won’t tell you you must. But why would you tell me that you wouldn’t?

What about sadness and worry? Worrying has never helped anyone. We may think about the future and try to plan. But as soon as it turns into worrying, it shows that you’ve placed yourself on G^d’s Throne. Leave something for Him to worry about. Walk with Him and it will all be fine.

And sadness? Well, happy people cry more easily than people feeling heavy. Happiness opens the door to dealing well with sadness (crying).

On the saddest day in the Jewish calendar, the 9th of Av, you can still be happy to be alive and have the opportunity to join other Jews in coping with the saddest parts of our history. You can be happy to cry.

The Jewish month of Adar and the Festivals of Tabernacles and Rejoicing of the Law, we’re told to spread extra happiness and be extra happy. Today exactly is also the Yahrtzeit of Rabbi Nachman of Breslav who advocated happiness as nothing and no one else. (He was also the Rebbi of my Rebbi, Reb Shlomo Carlebach, the Dancing Rabbi.) If not now, when? Just do it. It’ll rub off on your whole half-year ahead. Happy holidays!

About the Author
MM is a prolific and creative writer and thinker, previously a daily blog contributor to the TOI. He often makes his readers laugh, mad, or assume he's nuts—close to perfect blogging. He's proud that his analytical short comments are removed both from left-wing and right-wing news sites. None of his content is generated by the new bore on the block, AI. * As a frontier thinker, he sees things many don't yet. He's half a prophet. Half. Let's not exaggerate. Or not at all because he doesn't claim G^d talks to him. He gives him good ideas—that's all. MM doesn't believe that people observe and think in a vacuum. He, therefore, wanted a broad bio that readers interested can track a bit what (lack of) backgrounds, experiences, and educations contribute to his visions. * This year, he will prioritize getting his unpublished books published rather than just blog posts. Next year, he hopes to focus on activism against human extinction. To find less-recent posts on a subject XXX among his over 2000 archived ones, go to the right-top corner of a Times of Israel page, click on the search icon and search "zuiden, XXX". One can find a second, wilder blog, to which one may subscribe too, here: or by clicking on the globe icon next to his picture on top. * Like most of his readers, he believes in being friendly, respectful, and loyal. However, if you think those are his absolute top priorities, you might end up disappointed. His first loyalty is to the truth. He will try to stay within the limits of democratic and Jewish law, but he won't lie to support opinions or people when don't deserve that. (Yet, we all make honest mistakes, which is just fine and does not justify losing support.) He admits that he sometimes exaggerates to make a point, which could have him come across as nasty, while in actuality, he's quite a lovely person to interact with. He holds - how Dutch - that a strong opinion doesn't imply intolerance of other views. * Sometimes he's misunderstood because his wide and diverse field of vision seldomly fits any specialist's box. But that's exactly what some love about him. He has written a lot about Psychology (including Sexuality and Abuse), Medicine (including physical immortality), Science (including basic statistics), Politics (Israel, the US, and the Netherlands, Activism - more than leftwing or rightwing, he hopes to highlight reality), Oppression and Liberation (intersectionally, for young people, the elderly, non-Whites, women, workers, Jews, LGBTQIA+, foreigners and anyone else who's dehumanized or exploited), Integrity, Philosophy, Jews (Judaism, Zionism, Holocaust and Jewish Liberation), the Climate Crisis, Ecology and Veganism, Affairs from the news, or the Torah Portion of the Week, or new insights that suddenly befell him. * Chronologically, his most influential teachers are his parents, Nico (natan) van Zuiden and Betty (beisye) Nieweg, Wim Kan, Mozart, Harvey Jackins, Marshal Rosenberg, Reb Shlomo Carlebach, and, lehavdil bein chayim lechayim, Rabbi Dr. Natan Lopes Cardozo, Rav Zev Leff, and Rav Meir Lubin. This short list doesn't mean to disrespect others who taught him a lot or a little. One of his rabbis calls him Mr. Innovation [Ish haChidushim]. Yet, his originalities seem to root deeply in traditional Judaism, though they may grow in unexpected directions. In fact, he claims he's modernizing nothing. Rather, mainly basing himself on the basic Hebrew Torah text, he tries to rediscover classical Jewish thought almost lost in thousands of years of stifling Gentile domination and Jewish assimilation. (He pleads for a close reading of the Torah instead of going by rough assumptions of what it would probably mean and before fleeing to Commentaries.) This, in all aspects of life, but prominently in the areas of Free Will, Activism, Homosexuality for men, and Redemption. * He hopes that his words will inspire and inform, and disturb the comfortable and comfort the disturbed. He aims to bring a fresh perspective rather than harp on the obvious and familiar. When he can, he loves to write encyclopedic overviews. He doesn't expect his readers to agree. Rather, original minds should be disputed. In short, his main political positions are among others: anti-Trumpism, for Zionism, Intersectionality, non-violence, anti those who abuse democratic liberties, anti the fake ME peace process, for original-Orthodoxy, pro-Science, pro-Free Will, anti-blaming-the-victim, and for down-to-earth, classical optimism, and happiness. Read his blog on how he attempts to bridge any tensions between those ideas or fields. * He is a fetal survivor of the pharmaceutical industry (, born in 1953 to his parents who were Dutch-Jewish Holocaust survivors who met in the largest concentration camp in the Netherlands, Westerbork. He grew up a humble listener. It took him decades to become a speaker too, and decades more to admit to being a genius. But his humility was his to keep. And so was his honesty. Bullies and con artists almost instantaneously envy and hate him. He hopes to bring new things and not just preach to the choir. * He holds a BA in medicine (University of Amsterdam) – is half a doctor. He practices Re-evaluation Co-counseling since 1977, is not an official teacher anymore, and became a friendly, powerful therapist. He became a social activist, became religious, made Aliyah, and raised three wonderful kids. Previously, for decades, he was known to the Jerusalem Post readers as a frequent letter writer. For a couple of years, he was active in hasbara to the Dutch-speaking public. He wrote an unpublished tome about Jewish Free Will. He's a strict vegan since 2008. He's an Orthodox Jew but not a rabbi. * His writing has been made possible by an allowance for second-generation Holocaust survivors from the Netherlands. It has been his dream since he was 38 to try to make a difference by teaching through writing. He had three times 9-out-of-10 for Dutch at his high school finals but is spending his days communicating in English and Hebrew - how ironic. G-d must have a fine sense of humor. In case you wonder - yes, he is a bit dyslectic. If you're a native English speaker and wonder why you should read from people whose English is only their second language, consider the advantage of having an original peek outside of your cultural bubble. * To send any personal reaction to him, scroll to the top of the blog post and click Contact Me. * His newest books you may find here:
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