By: Rabbi Shlomo Ezagui
In the Book of Psalms, King David says, “Serve G-d in Joy, come before Him in Song.” and in our daily prayers we say regarding G-d, “He prefers melodious song…”
The great Kabbalist Rabbi Yitzchok Luria once said to his student, the reason why he merited the holy prophetic spirit of G-d, was because of his great joy when performing G-d’s commandments.
Here we have a very important point to be made, which is expressed in the following law.
Maimonides writes in his Code of Jewish Law, although it’s a mitzvah- an important deed, to drink a cup of wine on the holidays, one should not over indulge in drinking and frivolity, and claim he is increasing in joy. For this is only an expression of being wild and frivolity. We are commanded to be joyous and happy, which is a great service of G-d, and this cannot be fulfilled when wild and drunk.
The Bible says in Deuteronomy – “Because you did not serve G-d in joy and with a good plentiful heart, you will serve your enemies.” Rabbi Shnuer Zalman of Liadi explains, that the true enemies of a person are the destructive thoughts and internal challenges. These enemies are eradicated, and to begin with, not given a chance to come into our minds, through the joy of serving G-d. King Solomon already counsels us, “In all your ways you shall know Him.”
Once, a student came to Rabbi Shnuer Zalman of Liadi and said, “He was being assaulted and overwhelmed with bad thoughts.” The Rabbi told him, “They gather in empty spaces”. Rabbi Schneerson explained, “If a person would fill his mind and heart with the joy and delight, with the richness and fullness of serving G-d, there would be no room for the emptiness and darkness to take hold.”
When a person feels an excitement in his heart that he is able to give pleasure to his Creator by serving him, this strikes a certain chord deep down inside that sparks light and vibrancy all over a person’s body and life.
There will always be those who will mock, since this is their mechanism for overcoming their own jealousy and guilt. A person should just ignore those who mock him and who only derive pleasure from physical materialistic pursuits.
There is a saying in the name of the Baal Shem Tov. “ Foolishness, sadness and a haughty feeling of self-worth is considered in many ways, as like a terrible sin of the Bible ( although not actually) and, discriminating perception, joy brought about through finding the good in everything, and a calm swiftness are considered ( again, although not actually ) a Commandment of the Bible”.
Once, a great Rabbi saw someone dancing to his morning prayers. It was quite obvious this person felt and understood the true joy and meaning of what he was saying. The Rabbi commented, “Great things will come from these prayers.” Another time, this same Rabbi saw someone dancing, called him by name, and said, “What a pity to wear out a good pair of shoes.”
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