In 1988, Bibi Netanyahu visited the Lubavitcher Rebbe who was at that time mourning the passing of his wife, Rebbetzin Chaya Mushka. With an intention to console the Rebbe, Bibi shared that it’s at these intense impasses, when a person is for example in אבל (mourning), that we develop an appreciation for moments of joy and pleasure in our life.
And to some extent, this is very true. Contrast is rooted deep within us— it becomes the lens through which we view our lives. We ask ourselves daily: do I feel joy in my work, in my relationships, in myself? And often times, we answer these questions with a simple dose of perspective. Of feeling unwell which gives us appreciation for how much we value our bodies when they are healthy, of experiencing distance for a period of time before connecting with a dear friend.
But not all joy is contingent on it’s negative counterpart. The Rebbe responded that there’s a higher level of simcha hinted to by Prophet Isaiah, “ומחה ה' דמעה מעל כל פנים”. That in the times of Mashiach, G-d will wipe away all our tears from our faces. And ומחה, it’ll be destroyed and erased, and we will no longer remember the years of pain.
The Rebbe describes 4 levels of simcha which vivify the different parts of our soul:
When a Jew performs a Mitzvah, the act itself should elicit a feeling of tremendous joy and connection to the one above.
On Yom Tov and special holidays, one experiences an additional level of joy, due to the significance of the day.
During the month of Adar, the Talmud notes that one must increase in joy— with no specific reason given.
Though it might seem easier to feel joy from tangible events in our life, G-d is asking us to dig deeper, to discover the joy that exists beyond circumstance. And when a person no longer seeks external validators as the cause for their happiness, that’s when one starts to discover true joy. A joy that is not connected to things, whether negative or positive shifts that happen in our life, but to our conception of the world and our mission in it.
But there’s an even more profound experience of simcha. And that takes place on Purim, when we become so aware and elated by our essential selves, that all other layers and conventions simply dissolve. On this level of consciousness, just like a person doesn’t need to remind themselves to breathe, a person doesn’t need to remind themselves to be happy. It becomes as necessary and natural to us as air.
May we merit to tap into this on Purim and throughout the rest of Adar, a simcha so close to our hearts, and so much deeper than any sorrow.
Written by alumna, Sophie Katz, via her Facebook page.
View the video of the Lubavitcher Rebbe and Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu,
on the 2nd of Iyar 5748 - April 19th, 1988.