Decide to be happy!

Thursday, 11 September, 2014 - 2:27 pm

The Chassid Rabbi Shlomo Chaim Kesselman z”l served for many years as the “Mashpi’a” (spiritual guide) in the Yeshiva in Kfar Chabad. Mainly, he was a living example of how a Chassid who truly serves Hashem should look. His students and the people he guided carry his figure and guidance in their hearts to this day, many years after his passing in 5731 (1971).

I heard once about a couple who came to him shortly after their wedding and asked for some advice for life.

What Rabbi Shlomo Chaim told them was: “Decide to be happy! Because in life there will be moments when the happiness will not come naturally; perhaps there will be good reasons not to be happy. Therefore, I ask of you to make a decision that in every situation you will make sure to be happy.”

What is special about this piece of advice is that R. Shlomo Chaim was determining that being happy or not is dependent on our decision. If you wake up in the morning in a bad mood, it is within your ability to turn your thoughts around.

I, personally, like this piece of advice very much.

The importance of being happy is always relevant, but this week it is particularly so, for in this week’s Parasha there is a special instruction regarding happiness. The Torah describes the Mitzvah of Bikkurim, in which a person should bring the best of his first fruits to the Beit Mikdash, thanking Hashem for all the good He has bestowed upon him. And then it says: “And you shall rejoice in all the good that Hashem, your G-d, gave you and your home.” This is a command to be happy, not only about the Bikkurim that you just brought, but in general, to be happy with “all the good that Hashem, your G-d gave you and your home.”

Besides the Parasha, there is also a Halacha connected to joy during these days. The Rebbe makes an interesting calculation. He quotes the Gemara that is brought down as law in the Shulchan Aruch as well: “The early sages enacted an ordinance that the Darshanim (preachers) should start teaching the laws of the festival publicly thirty days before the festival.” In other words, there is an ordinance compelling the Jew to involve himself in the matters concerning the holiday thirty days before it comes. Here is the calculation: From the 14th of Ellul (today is already the 16th of Ellul), we are within the thirty days before the holiday of Succot. Succot is special in that the Torah says about it: “You shall rejoice in your holiday and be only happy.” In other words, besides ordering a Lulav and Etrog, and taking care of building the Succah, one should involve oneself with matters concerning happiness.

How does one do that? As R. Shlomo Chaim said, one decides to be happy! Is it hard? O.K. – so for what do we have a stereo system, if not in order to insert a disk and press “play”? And if that doesn’t work, one can always have a little “L’chaim.”


Shabbat Shalom,


Zalmen Wishedski

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