Kenneth Cohen

Worry Prevents Joy

The book titled, “Orchot Tzaddikim,” known in English as, “The Ways of the Tzaddikim,” teaches a great deal about ethics and faith. The book is arranged where it discusses parallel character traits, both good and bad. For example, these is a chapter on arrogance, followed by a chapter on humility. There is a chapter on hatred, followed by a chapter on love.

The parallels make sense until the subject of “Simcha,” happiness, comes up. The expected opposite of happiness, would be sadness. Yet, in this book, the opposite of happiness, is דאגה, or worry. This observation is nothing less than brilliant. When we look at life, and are confronted with its challenges, the way that we deal with these challenges, is critical.

If we allow ourselves to worry about every little detail, we are depriving ourselves of joy. It won’t matter if we are blessed with wealth or success, because the worrier is capable of finding and obsessing over every little triviality. If he lets this worry rule him, he has deprived himself of feeling happy.

The remedy offered in the book, is faith in G-d. We are even meant to get to a level of a certain type of apathy. This comes when we realize that everything is in His hands. He is compassionate, and if we trust in Him, all will be will.

It makes so much sense to connect happiness with worry. Only if we are able to overcome worry, will we achieve happiness. True faith in G-d, will be the remedy to cure our worries. This clearly requires work and diligence. But it is certainly worth the effort.

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