Advice for happiness

The joy of serving Hashem

The story is told of a man who was close to dying, and who was feeling very sad. His companions tried to cheer him up by telling him: “Look at your life and all the mitzvot you did and all the merits you have!” etc, but nothing helped. Rabbi Levi Yitzchak of Berditchev heard about this and immediately said, ‘I will go and strengthen him’.

He came to the man and the man told him that he was worried that maybe he hadn’t done enough in this world. Rabbi Levi Yitzchak replied, ‘I’m prepared to make a deal with you. If you ensure that you stay happy from now on until you leave this world, I will give you all of my World to Come. The man heard this and immediately asked Rabbi Levi Yitzchak, ‘Are you prepared to put that in writing?’ The Rav answered, ‘Certainly’.

The two of them wrote an agreement that stated that R. Levi Yitzchak was transferring all of his World to Come to this Jew. The moment the man received this wonderful gift, he forgot his suffering entirely and became very happy. A few hours passed and the Jew passed away from the world in great happiness. They came to Rabbi Levi Yitzchak and asked him, ‘We understand that you wanted to strengthen another Jew, but to give him all of your World to Come?! For the sake of a just a few hours?!’ Rabbi Levi Yitzchak told them,

‘It’s worth it to me to give all of my World to Come to make one other Jew happy’.

Happiness is the task of the Tzaddikim, and we can see from this story how much the Tzaddikim are prepared to give to strengthen the happiness of even a single Jew.

Rabbi Nachman said, ‘strengthening ourselves in happiness is the secret of success. Happiness comes from fixing our emuna, and knowing that all that Hashem does, He does for the good. The more that a person can strengthen himself, whether he’s on the way up or on the way down, the more he fixes the blemishes in his emuna, the more successful he will be’.

Yosef HaTzaddik was constantly happy

It’s written about Yosef HaTzaddik: ‘and everything he did, Hashem made it successful in his hands’. Hashem gave him the success, and the midrash explains why: Yosef was constantly happy and would dance all the time due to the joy he felt. When a person begins to dance from happiness, this is his success. Therefore, Rabbi Nachman teaches that we need to continually look for ways to maintain a state of continuous happiness.

When a person is happy in all situations, it doesn’t matter what happens to him, because he’s always performing a great service to Hashem. He’s performing the service of emuna. ‘I‘m happy because I believe that You care about me Hashem and You are helping me, and in the end everything will turn out for the best. So what do I have to worry about!’

The immense service of happiness brings all the goodness and all the blessings down to a person, because the main tikkun of the world is through emuna and the way to demonstrate our emuna and trust in Hashem is through happiness.

Therefore when a person is in distress, the advice is: start jumping around and start dancing and singing with gratitude, because then you will draw down upon yourself the blessing of “in my sorrow you comforted me” and you will merit to feel that even in the midst of your suffering, there is comfort.

This is siyatta di’shmaya (Divine assistance), which is a special salvation that comes down to the person in that difficult place. This fixes the blemishes in our emuna, and enables us to directly see Hashem’s personal Divine supervision over our lives, without any hiddenness.

Excerpted from: “From the Depths: Advice on how to deal with the challenges of everyday life, from the teachings of Rabbi Nachman of Breslov“, by Rav Ofer Erez.

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