Parsha Pekudei Rabbi Moshe P. Weisblum March 8, 2003 Topic: How to achieve happiness
" When the month of Adar begins we are commanded to increase our level of happiness. So many scientists try to teach us how to achieve happiness. Today it is obvious in the world that pleasure is equated with neither happiness nor money nor fame. So, what is the Jewish approach to happiness and how do we achieve it. The famous theologian, Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch from Frankfurt (1808-1888), taught us that there is a strong connection between the Hebrew word Samach (happiness) and Tzomech (growth). Dr. Abraham Twerski from Pittsburgh is a famous, and observant, psychiatrist in the school of medicine and a prolific author. He tells us that people experience the feeling of discontent and unhappiness because of lack of human spirit. Science tells us that we have a body, which is not significantly more sophisticated than that of an animal. What we have that is more advanced the animal is the intellect, meaning:
We have the ability to learn the history of the past.
We have the ability to control and postpone gratification to another time.
We have the ability to figure out the results of my deeds at this moment how they will affect me of others in the future; to analyze and make conclusions.
4. We have to ability to say to our body: "no" (e.g., animals cannot decide: "I want to fast today."
All of these traits or features are called the human spirit. When we feel discontent or unhappy, many times it is because we have a spiritual deficiency problem… If we do not use these traits, we do not learn from the history of the past. If we do not think of the consequences of our actions, we do not use our human spirit and we bring upon ourselves the symptom of spiritual deficiency syndrome. This is what Dr. Twerski describes as a lack of human spirit.
If we carefully read the Haftorah of this week’s and we ask ourselves who is the king of suffering throughout the entire Jewish history, clearly the answer is king David. His family did not recognize him, his wife did not appreciate him, and his father-in-law, King Saul, tried to kill him. There was terrible instigation from everywhere against him, his own son, Adonia instigated against his father and tried to take over the throne when his father was very sick, and the worst of all was his son, Abshalon who tried to assassinate him. Yet, King David gave the world the best preparation for the Holy temple and gave the world the book of psalms from come many of the psalms contained in most of our prayer books. King David thanked G-d all his life, even through all the hardship in his life. King David overcame all this hardship with psalms to thank G-d.
Here is the lesson that we learn today. In order for us to grow (Tzomech) and be happy (Samach) we have to understand that we achieve growth only through Samach - Simcha - happiness. May G-d bring upon us a month of happiness and growth, Amen."