February 28, 2013

Finding Real Happiness

By: Rabbi Yoni Fischer

משנכנס אדר מרבים בשמחה,  when the month of אדר  enters, our happiness abounds.

In מגלת אסתר,, which we read on Purim in the month of אדר  , it says: ליהודים היתה אורה ושמחה וששון ויקר. The Jews finally had true light, happiness, joy and honor. From this we learn that  Adar is a month filled with שמחה  and Purim is a day we celebrate joyously.

The question is, how does someone become joyous?  How does one increase happiness and, more importantly, what is happiness? happiness

At the beginning of perek ג in מגילת אסתר  we read about how אחשורוש promoted Haman and set his seat above all the officers who were with him.  All of the king’s servants and people in Shushan would bow down before Haman, for this is what the king had commanded.  However, Mordechai refused to bow or prostrate himself for Haman’s honor.

This angered Haman so much that he devised a complicated scheme to have Mordechai murdered . Can you imagine how Haman-a leader of the most powerful nation in the world at that time, was so distraught because one person, one Jew, would not bow down to him, that it literally destroyed him inside and eventually cost him everything, including his life?

Haman had everything he could have wished for, but he focused instead on what he was missing. He lost sight of all the good things he was blessed with-even the money and prestige of the entire country did not matter to him as long as he was missing the respect and honor of one person!

Someone can have everything yet feel inside that they need more and are missing so much.  On the other hand, there are those who have very little and feel like they have everything.  So who is richer? Who has “more”?  Obviously, the latter.

Could it be that being happy is a choice?  Could it be that if we would accept and recognize all the good in our lives, we would increase our happiness? Within every circumstance in life, you can either look for the “gold” or for the “filth”; and what you search for is what you will find.  If we suffer, it’s because of the way we choose to view a circumstance in our lives, not because of the circumstance itself.

In Parshat Vayishlach. Yaakov meets his brother Esav after not seeing him for many years and offers him a gift.  Esav responds “יש לי רב”, which, according to the Kli Yakar implies “I have a lot, but I am still missing.” Contrarily, when Esav tries to give Yaakov a present, Yaakov says no thank you, “יש לי כל”, I have everything I need. Yaakov viewed his life as complete, he wasn’t missing anything.   Haman and Amalek are descendants of Esav, so it would make sense that they are not satisfied even with their immense wealth.

So, maybe happiness is not dependent upon externals, the way we might think it is.  How I look,  the car I drive, my bank account-none of that matters and none of that will make you truly happy. Rather, if we recognize how blessed and fortunate we are with how much we already have, only then will we feel real simcha.

The famous author and psychologist, Dr. Wayne Dyer, once wrote: “There is no way to happiness.  Happiness is the way!”