Updated: Sep 8, 2020
Simcha is a truly fascinating thing, one that can transform any spiritual act completely. In fact, few things can propel a Mitzvah, Torah or Prayer upwards as much as Simcha. In a simple sense the lack of happiness is one of the reasons Hashem writes in the Torah for the terrible curses from Parshat Bechukotai. While many people underestimate the power of true joy, we will explore a few deep ideas about it in this article.
Rebbe Nachman of Breslov stressed and taught a lot about Simcha. And one thing we all need to know is that it’s not something simple or related to sillyness in any way. It’s a very difficult work of the soul and that is of extreme importance to anyone seeking closeness to Hashem.
In Likutey Etzot, Rebbe Natan writes in his name that one must do every Mitzvah with so much Simcha that he desires not even the reward in the World to Come! He should think that the Mitzva itself is the reward! Through that, a person can know what has been decreed to the world from Above, if it’s before or after the decree. This is clearly a form of Ruach HaKodesh which corroborates with what Rabbi Chaim Vital wrote in Sha’arei Kedusha (Gates of Holiness) that one must distance himself from sadness as much as possible in order to receive it.
On a Kabbalistic level, when a person is experiencing genuine happiness, he has in fact achieved the highest level of Keter at that moment. In this state, he is capable of true Emuna and compassion to all. His mind expands and he’s much more receptible to blessings. Not only that, but he can be much more in touch with his soul and ascend through the spiritual worlds. There’s no ascent without Simcha.
Rebbe Nachman writes that through this a person can truly merit Torah Chiddushin (novellae), revive the spirits of other people and true prayer and hitbodedut (personal prayer). He also elevates many of the fallen sparks that are imprisoned in the domain of the Sitra Achra (the other side, dark forces).
In fact, being happy is not only one of the consequenes of having Da’at, but it also expands our Da’at by itself. The Tzaddikim are always incredibly happy, because they know what an overwhelming priviledge it is to serve Hashem. In a Midrash, the sages say that Yosef was sohappy in Egypt he kept dancing, even when he was jailed. One can only marvel at Yosef’s emunah despite all the immense challenges he had to face in a depraved land that went against everything holy.
One who is sad is also much more subject to the forces of impurity. So, now that we see how important it is to have Simcha, how do we attain it?
Rebbe Nachman teaches that, in order to achieve real happiness, it is crucial to dance even if it’s only 5 minutes every day. The movement of the body can break the earth element presentin our souls and elevate it.
In science we also find something fascinating. Most people would dismiss the idea of “fake it until you make it”, because it sounds… fake. Why would you pretend to be something that you are not? But the truth is that faking your happiness, even if it’s just smilingfor 8 seconds, is already enough to trigger a endorphin discharge. And in Jewish philosophy, this is actually a very helpful practice. We are not advocating pretending to be a Tzaddik and fooling people. The purpose of this is purely for oneself. In pretending to be happy a person actually becomes happy.
The Torah writes that when Moshe Rabbenu came to the Hebrews in Egypt with the good news, they didn’t respond to him positively. Rashi elegantly explains that they had shortnessof breath due to their work, and this is a truly amazing insight. People with heavy burdens can’t breath properly, and that affects his cognitive ability. Everything seems dark and hopeless, and one becomes entangled in a never-ending cycle of despair and misery.
Yet, as Rebbe Nachman teaches in Likutey Moharan, taking deep breaths can bring us a renewed spirit that can strengthen us. This is actually necessary to achieving a state of Yishuv HaDa’at (settling the mind), and through that, reaching peace and happiness.
The effects of breathing exercises and meditation cannot be overstated to a person’s wellbeing. In the end, no matter what we are going through, we all have many reasons to be happy. All we need to do is realise what we have, take a deep breath and bring things into a new perspective. Then we can truly achieve a state where nothing is impossible.
Hashem should merit that we all attain true Simcha!
This article was written and published in the zechut of all Emuna Builder Partners. May they have complete emuna and continue spreading emuna!