The Blinders on One’s Eyes

“It will be when you come to the Land that God gives you […] you will be happy and joyous, thankful and grateful with all the good that God your God has given you.”

The first commandment when coming into the land and beginning any day is to be happy and joyous. How can we put ourselves into the mood of vesomachta (cheerfulness)? By looking around and discovering the many reasons to be thankful in life.

God did not have to grant us the enjoyment we glean from the act of eating. When we go to work or return home, God did not have to make the birds chirp or design the beautiful sunset — and yet that is part of the miracle of a regular day in life.

The trick of the evil inclination is to put blinders on the eyes of the soul so that you focus only on what needs improvement while ignoring all there is to be thankful for.

Rabbi Shneur Zalman of Liadi (1745–1813) explains in his seminal book, Likutei Torah, that punishments and curses come into our lives “because [we] did not serve God in joy and good spirit.”

Rabbi Shneur Zalman asks why punishments as severe as those we see in the Bible are reckoned for the simple crime of not being happy. He explains the following.

It is written in the holy book of the Zohar that God mimics our actions and behavior. When we are sad, God is sad. When we exude happiness, God is also happy up in heaven, just as a parent is happy to see their child happy.

It is like a surge of oxycodone that relieves and actually cures pain when someone is happy. When someone is happy, the negative in their life is overshadowed by that happiness, and the darkness is severely reduced and/or entirely eliminated. This is because happiness is light, which makes it stronger than sadness and darkness, as we learn from the verse “A little bit of light chases away much darkness.”

When there is joy above, all the negativity that may be accumulated against an individual is overshadowed, sometimes entirely eliminated by that joy.

When someone finds a reason to be happy — because they know in their heart that all that happens is for good or because they have faith that they will someday reach the light at the end of the tunnel — he will not be punished for his sins, because the joy in heaven has erased them. This is the way God created the world.

However, when there is no joy, there is none of this special elixir that protects him from the negativity he created in the past through his sins; thus, the punishment lying in wait is unmitigated by joy.

Simcha — joy, happiness, and a cheerful disposition— is the most powerful shield against negativity.

“Simcha, joy breaks all boundaries.” The flower of life, the soul of God inside, opens and blooms. When someone is depressed, oy vey… it is just the opposite. The poor flower shrivels and fades into itself.

Rabbi Menachem Mendel, the Tzemach Tzedek (1789-1866), says, “A person must be very mindful of his thoughts to ensure they are always happy and upbeat. He must be meticulous to avoid speaking words that carry in them a spirit of sadness, depression, and darkness (because words alone affect a person’s emotions. A person should (always) conduct himself as if he is filled with happiness and exhibit actions (posture) of joy and happiness, and eventually, this will permeate inside of him, and it will become his true feelings inside.”

Rabbi Shneur Zalman explains that when a person does a mitzvah, any mitzvah, this is a tremendous source of joy in his life, for it allows the person to unite his soul eternally with the essence of God, who commanded and derives satisfaction from the performance of this mitzvah.

“The commandments of God are straightforward; they bring joy to one’s heart.”

Rabbi Bunim of Pshischa (1765-1827) said, “The joyous heart seeks God…” and, “The nature of a person is that when he is seeking, he is unhappy until he finds it. In the case of someone who is on a journey toward Godliness, and more Godliness, even while on the journey, there is already great inner happiness and joy.”

Chapter 275

About the Author
Rabbi Shlomo Ezagui is an author and lecturer. "A Spiritual Soul Book" & "Maimonides Advice for the 21st Century" Rabbi Ezagui opened in 1987 the first Chabad Center in Palm Beach County, Florida, and the first Orthodox Synagogue on the Island of Palm Beach, Florida.
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