A UN sponsored survey in 2023 found that Israelis are among the happiest people in the world. This of course is a bit strange considering the daily pressure of national survival.
While the events of October 7th, the terrible ongoing loss of life and the world’s immense political pressure has put a damper on the survey findings, in general, however, the innate happiness still remains.
This “Jewish Joy” is based on the Jewish outlook on life. Beyond the “normal” worldly things that make us happy such as personal achievements or happy family events, there is the appreciation for simply being alive on such a unique planet in the universe.
Joy in the Jewish tradition is considered to be an antidote to life’s challenges, sadness and even the traumas we, the Jewish people, have experienced throughout the centuries. It has kept us from falling into despair during very tough times.
A large movement based on finding Joy from the depth of despair was created after hundreds of Jewish communities were obliterated in the 17 century by the Polish cossacks. This was the Hasidic movement which spread all over Europe like a wildfire.
Finding Joy in our hearts despite adverse events is rooted in a profound spiritual attitude. Life is precious, an amazing gift granted to us by G-D and the expression of Joy no matter the circumstance strengthens that attitude as well as our inner drive for survival.
There is a story in the Mishna (a body of biblical commentaries precursor to the Talmud) about the angels singing praises to G-D after pharaoh's chariots drowned in the sea. G-D responded: My creations drowned in the sea and you are singing praises to me?"
Jewish perpetual joy is all about the sanctity and the appreciation of life on earth and not an expression of revenge. It helps the psyche overcome sadness, even tragedy and horrors to which Jews have been exposed to for centuries. It prevents us from becoming a victim within to those who wish to hurt us or destroy us.
Our historical related holidays always stress Jewish survival and deliverance from evil as well as praise of G-D. It is not an expression of Joy for the death of an evil enemy.
In Holidays such as Hanukkah, Purim and Passover we offer G-D a special prayer of praise called”Hallel” (“Praise”). We recite it during Passover and Hanukkah as a thank you to G-D for saving the Jewish people from a threat of annihilation.
However, despite the Joy of survival, Jewish tradition forbids us from reciting Hallel during the seventh day of Passover because that was the day Pharaoh's army drowned. We do not recite “Hallel'' on Purim because that was the day in which the Jews killed their enemies who wanted them dead in Persia.
The value of Jewish Joy goes even deeper with the mystical teachings of the Kabbalists. We even have a special Hebrew month, Adar, which radiates the energies of Joy to us. And this year there are actually two months of Adar! During our upcoming workshop/webinar Feb. 10th we will be delving in these teachings and how to use the tools of the Kabbalists to bring the deeper level of Joy which also brings healing into our lives. We certainly can all use more Joy right now! I hope you will join us!
Rabbi DavidRegister Here