Concentrate of joy

Friday, 18 October, 2019 - 7:31 am

A simple Jew once approached the Admor Hazaken (Rabbi Schneur Zalman of Lyadi, the founder of Chabad) and asked: “Rebbe, what is it about this festival of Shemini Atzeret and Simchat Torah that makes us dance and be so happy?” The Rebbe thought for a moment and answered: “Shemini Atzeret is like a sweet concentrate that one prepares and keeps in a jar in the kitchen. When one needs some, one takes just a bit, mixes it with water, and then the food or drink are sweetened by it. So, too, are Shemini Atzeret and Simchat Torah: They have in them concentrated joy, and it is from them that we take joy for the entire year.”

When I read this I understood that if the dancing and the great rejoicing are like a concentrate, then the more of the concentrate we have – both in quantity and in quality – the more joy we will have – both in quantity and in quality – throughout the year. And between us: Is there anything that we need more in our lives than joy?

So I ask you, seriously, does one need anything more than that in order to drop everything else and just dance?

Take my piece of advice: There’s such a thing as drinking a “L’chaim”. It’s not vodka or whiskey, nor is it beer or wine. It is simply a “L’chaim”, because we drink a small cupful and wish each other, from the bottom of our hearts – “L’chaim!” This “L’chaim” has in it the ability to help a person relax a bit, dance and be happy. And if one cupful doesn’t help, one can always try again. From experience, I can tell you that it works.

Chag Same’ach to all Jews,

Rabbi Zalmen Wishedski

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