Thursday, March 2, 2017

Adar, Daily Simcha and Gratitude

By Yosef Stern:

The Gemara[1] says, “…When Adar begins we increase simcha, our joy.”[2]

Besides Adar, how do we experience simcha daily in a world that’s full of pain, grief and suffering etc., which keeps getting worse day by day?

1) How does one attain simcha?

Seifer Ha’Akeidah[3] says that true simcha can be attained only if three conditions are met and those conditions can be met only through observance of Torah and mitzvot:

· The action must be perfect.

· The person performing the action must have perfect intentions. Harmful motives sadden the soul, which comes from an elevated source.

· Joy results from achieving the purpose of the deed.

Therefore, true simcha cannot emanate from temporal pursuits, for they do not provide complete benefit. True joy emanates only from G-dly pursuits, in which the action and the purpose are achieved simultaneously.

2) How we speak.

As Mishlei[4] states, “A man has happiness through the response of his mouth.”[5]

What does Mishlei mean? The Tolner Rebbe of Yerushalayim explains:

“A person who merits to have a tongue that is clean and pure will merit the attribute of happiness.”[6]

3) Quotes on Simcha.

The Shem MiShmuel says, “Simcha reveals that which is concealed in the heart.”[7] Reb Simcha Bunim of Pischischa said, “Simcha, joy, provides the means of escape from all difficulties.”

The Medrash[8] states that if someone tells you that non-Jews have wisdom, believe him.

Therefore, Dr. Brian Weiss and Ralph Marston state, “Happiness in life has nothing to do with what you have; it is completely dependent on your choice of perception!” Oscar Wilde said, “Some cause happiness WHEREVER they go; others WHENEVER they go.” H. Schachtel says, “Happiness is not having what you want but wanting what you have.” Steve Maraboli and H. Jackson Brown, Jr. said, “Happiness is not the absence of problems but the ability to deal with them.” “People wait all week for Friday, all year for summer, all life for happiness.”

Brother David Steindl–Rast, Albert Clark said, “In daily life, we must see that it is not happiness that makes us grateful, but gratefulness that makes us happy.” Wallace D. Wattles adds, “It is necessary, then, to cultivate the habit of being grateful for every good thing that comes to you, and to give thanks continuously. And because all things have contributed to your advancement, you should include all things in your gratitude.” Menachem Robinson said, “Let gratitude be your attitude.”

Milton Hershey says, “One is only happy in proportion as he makes others feel happy.” Rav Eliyahu Dessler[9] explains, “Every positive emotion stems from giving and flows outward from us to others, whereas every negative emotion revolves around taking for selfish motives.” Indeed, the root of the Hebrew word for love, is to give. In other words, “Giving leads to Love.”[10]

Abraham Lincoln says, “Most folks are about as HAPPY as they make up their mind TO BE.”

What does he mean? The Baal Shem Tov[11] z”l says, “If you rearrange the letters of the word ‘thought,’ it results in the word, 'with happiness.” When Dovid HaMelech wrote, “Serve Hashem with happiness,”[12] he wasn’t being illogical. One cannot serve Hashem naturally with simcha. One needs to put his mind in the right mood to experience clinging to Hashem. This is not always easy to do with the daily challenges that we face every day.

Nevertheless, as Rav Pam zt”l used to say, “People are always searching for the city of happiness, but they don’t realize that it is a state of mind.” Meaning, our thoughts that are formed in our mind, affect our mood, which determines how we will respond to a situation at hand. As the Chofeitz Chayim states, “Our thoughts determine our experience of Torah and mitzvot.”[13] In the words of Earl Nightingale: “We become what we think about.”

4) What’s the significance of simcha?

The Gemara says that the Divine Presence rests only among the Simcha, joy of [the performance of] the mitzvot.[14] Yet, many pages later the Gemara that the Divine Presence rests only upon someone who is wealthy.[15]

Does the Divine Presence rest among someone who is full of simcha when doing the mitzvot or someone who is rich?

Avos[16] answers the Gemara backwards: Which person is rich? He who is happy with his lot. As Victor Hugo said, “Do not educate your children to be RICH. Educate them to be HAPPY. So, that when they grow up and enter the real world, they will know the VALUE of everything in life, not just the PRICE TAG.”

The Orchas Tzaddikim[17] says something profound:

“A person achieves joy from an overwhelming sense of tranquility without any negative element. When someone fulfills all his desires, with no source of discouragement, he will be in a continuous happy state. His face will glow, his body will be sound in health and aging will advance at a slow pace. As Shlomo HaMelech said, ‘A glad heart is as beneficial as a cure.’ In addition, the Maharal states, ‘Simcha flows from spiritual perfection.’ Perfection in one’s sense of joy is actualized by a combination of constancy in devotion and initiation of fresh approaches to service of Hashem.”

5) Simcha in Halachah.

The Shulchan Aruch[18] says, “The day of Yom Tov should be divided between avodas Hashem - by davening and learning and the mitzvot of oneg and simcha through eating and drinking.” In addition, “There is a mitzvah of simcha on Chol Hamoed, as on Yom Tov.”[19] However, “The simcha on Yom Tov should bring a person closer to avodas Hashem and should not lead to levity and frivolous behavior.”[20]

6) What about Gratitude?

The Medrash HaGadol[21] tells us, “Whoever is ungrateful for the good done to him by his fellow will eventually prove ungrateful for the good done to him by Hashem.” Pirkei D’Rebbe Eliezer[22] says, “There is nothing worse before HaKadosh Baruch Hu than to be an ingrate.”[23]

Similarly, “If a person does not have understanding, it is forbidden to have compassion for him…”[24] The Steipler Gaon[25] explains, “Our Sages are speaking of someone who lacks the quality hakaras hatov.”

Rabbi Chaim Shmuelevitz stated, “Once a person becomes accustomed to taking from others, he is in danger of feeling entitled to all that he receives - to the point that he might seek to harm someone who refuses his request.”[26]

Here’s Albert Einstein’s theory of Simcha:

Gratitude = Happiness - ingratitude ≠ happiness - No happiness = ingratitude - Ingratitude = selfishness - Selfishness = High Ego - High Ego = Destruction of one’s soul.

Had Mahatma Gandhi been alive today, he probably would’ve said the following:

“Some people’s attitude is to have gratitude; while others have no gratitude only attitude and some are just UNGRATEFUL.”


[1] Ta’anis 29a.

[2] Since this month ushers in the time during which the great miracles of Purim and Pesach occurred to the Jewish people (Rashi to Ta’anis 29a ‘משנכנס אדר’).

[3] 16; see also The Wisdom in Hebrew Months volume 1 by Zvi Ryzman, page 283.

[4] 15:23.

[5] Sparkling Speech by Rabbi Elysha Sandler, page 29.

[6] Sichos Kodesh, Vayigash 5771; see also Sparkling Speech by Rabbi Elysha Sandler, page 29.

[7] Mo’adim, Lail Simchas Torah 5677.

[8] Eichah Rabbah 2:13.

[9] See Michtav Me’Eliyahu volume 1, Kuntres HaChesed, pages 35-38. In addition, see also Avodah Zarah 76b.

[10] The Ibn Ezra says, “Man lives to bestow love onto others and, in turn, longs to be loved” (see Devarim 30:19). Nevertheless, love without constraints can result in a disaster, as it says, “Love corrupts clear thinking” (See Rav Schwab on Chumash, pages 327-329 and Bereishis Rabbah 55:8).

[11] i.e. Yisrael ben Eliezer.

[12] Tehillim 100:2.

[13] see Rav Schwab on Chumash by Rabbi Myer Schwab, page 263.

[14] Shabbos 30b.

[15] Ibid. 92a.

[16] 4:1.

[17] Sha’ar HaSimchah.

[18] Orach Chayim 529:1; see also Kitzur Halachos YOM TOV and Chol Hamoed by Rav Zev Hofstedter, page 9.

[19] Mishnah Berurah 529:16 and 530:1; see also Kitzur Halachos YOM TOV and Chol Hamoed by Rav Zev Hofstedter, page 185

[20] Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayim 529:3; see also Kitzur Halachos YOM TOV and Chol Hamoed by Rav Zev Hofstedter, page 9.

[21] Shemos 1:8.

[22] Chapter 7.

[23] I.e. someone who talks during tefillah not only shows ingratitude towards Hashem, but he desecrates His Name in public! (See Mishnah Berurah 151:1). See also Let There be Rain by Rabbi Shimon Finkelman and Rabbi Zechariah Wallerstein, pages 354-355.

[24] Sanhedrin 92a.

[25] Rabbi Yaakov Yisrael Kanievsky.

[26] Sichos Mussar, page 30.


A special request for a Refuah Shlema for Rochel Faiga bas Sharnetta Eita Shendel


  1. Tamar Yona show Nibiru

  2. Thank you for posting that Reb Menachem Simcha and hakoras hatov are two areas which need constant chizzuk ( at least for me).

  3. Floods and volcanoes all over the world in past weeks
    35 volcanoes in full eruption now