Follow by Email

Tuesday, 15 March 2016

How to find happiness

Daf Yomi Kiddushin 4


A fellow once came to the Maggid of Mezritch and asked, “Our Sages teach that the same way one blesses Hashem for the good, we must similarly bless Him for the bad in our life.  How is that humanly possible?”
The Maggid replied, “Travel to Anipoli and address your question to my disciple, Reb Zushe.  He will give you the answers you seek.”  So off the fellow goes to find Reb Zushe of Anipoli.

He arrives in Anipoli and makes enquiries as to where Reb Zushe lives.  He is directed to a shack at the outskirts of town.  The place is broken down and almost appears uninhabitable.  He knocks on the door and one of the children opens up.  Peeking his head inside, he notices that the entire house is one room.  There are a dozen kids running around and there doesn’t seem to be much food in the kitchen.  There are piles of straw strewn across the floor for the kids to sleep upon and a three legged cracked table in the corner of the room.

Reb Zushe sees the visitor and welcomes him warmly.  After serving him some tea in a broken mug, he asks the reason for his visit.  He tells him that the Maggid sent him to learn the meaning of the words of our Sages, “the same way one blesses Hashem for the good, we must similarly bless Him for the bad in our life.” 
Reb Zushe stares at the man in bewilderment and responds, “Sir, I have no idea why the Maggid would have sent you to me.  My life is all good.  I have no bad in my life!”

Concerning a woman from a priestly family whose husband died, the Torah states, “If she did not have children, she shall return to her father’s house (and resume eating the priestly tithes).”
Beraisa: The verse teaches about children.  How about if she only had living grandchildren, could she return to her father’s house?  The verse states, “v’zera ein la (if she did not have children).”  The additional letter ‘yud’ in ‘ein’ (did not) may be understood to mean ‘examine’, meaning: Examine her to see whether she has any offspring.
The Gemara asks: From where does the teacher derive that we may expound the ‘yud’ as a superfluous letter?
They respond: Elsewhere the Torah states, “me’en Bilam” (Bilam refused to come) and “me’en yevami” (my levirate husband refused to marry).  In each of these examples, there is no additional ‘yud.’  If, in our case, the letter ‘yud’ is written, it must be present to teach something additional.

According to the Gemara, the word ‘refuse’ could have been spelled with a ‘yud.’  If that had been the case, the word would have read ‘me’ayin’ – from nothing.  In other words, many times in life, people refuse to do something, based on nothing, for no good reason.  Simply, their first response is always no!

When they’re asked for help, they automatically respond negatively – without even thinking.  There’s no good reason; they’ve simply trained themselves to say no.   It might be a community member, religious authority, or even a spouse.  They’re conditioned with a ‘No!’ attitude.

The right attitude to have is a ‘Yes!’ attitude!   Can you help with this community project?  Yes!   Is my chicken kosher?  Yes!  (Or, at least, ‘Let me look into it and get back to you!’)  Would you like to go to my parents for Yom Tov?  Yes!

The key to having an automatic ‘Yes!’ response is all about the attitude.   If you are thinking negatively, you will respond negatively.  But if you are thinking positively, you will respond positively!

There’s no shortage of books out there about happiness.  Where do you find happiness?  How do you reach happiness?  The truth is that happiness is found right where you are.  You don’t need to reach it; you just need to flick the switch to the ‘on’ position and starting saying ‘Yes!’

Some people have all the material blessings in the world.  Money.  Perfect health.  The good life.  And yet they’re not happy.  Why not?  Because they’ve failed to hit their internal happiness attitude button.   They could switch it on and have a positive attitude at any moment, but they’re not willing to make that effort.  Instead, they’re waiting for the happiness inspiration to come from something external to themselves.  

The word ‘b’simcha’ – with joy – contains the same letters as ‘machshava’ – mind, meaning that happiness is all in the mind!  Don’t wait for happiness and positivity to come your way.  You need to create that attitude within yourself!  You need to stop saying no for no good reason. 

And likewise when it comes to relationships: probably the greatest alleged source of people’s dissatisfaction is their lack of happiness.  My spouse doesn’t make me happy, so I’m out of here!  But marriage doesn’t make you happy – happiness makes you happy!  You need to make yourself a happy, ‘Yes!’ person and you will have a happy, ‘Yes!’ relationship!  If your attitude is ‘This is awesome!’ it will be awesome!  If you’re waiting for someone else or something else to make you happy, you’re going to be waiting an awful long time. 


Just like Reb Zushe, you have the power to see the world positively or negatively.  Most negativity comes ‘me-ayin’ – from no real source.  May you always flick the happiness switch to the ‘on’ position!