Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Happiness - The Medicine of The Future

"It is a great mitzvah to always be happy," but have you ever wondered some of the reasons why? In Likkutei Moharan II:24, Rebbe Nachman teaches us that all the sicknesses that come upon a person, only come because of a lack of happiness. The lesson goes on to explain that there are ten different types of melody which are all an aspect of happiness. All these ten melodies are found within the ten different pulses in the body, which give life to the melodies through their pulsating. Now when there is a breakdown of happiness which is the life force behind these ten pulses, then the sickness comes as a result of the weakening of the pulses. For all the different illnesses are included within these ten pulses; and similarly, all the different melodies are included in these ten melodies. Therefore, according to the breakdown of the happiness and the melody, so will be the sickness that comes. All the medical experts have explained this subject at length; that all illnesses come as a result of sadness and depression, and that happiness is a great healing and cure. The Rebbe adds that in the future, happiness will increase very much, and through happiness, all the sicknesses will be cured.
We see from this lesson some of the great benefits of happiness, now we just have to learn how to always be happy. It appears to me with Hashems help, that the Rebbe is hinting to us a secret to being happy when he says that 'in the future' happiness will increase very much. What is it about the future which will allow happiness to increase very much?
Two things come to mind when the future is mentioned; one, is what we say in the Aleinu prayer to end each of our three daily prayers which comes from the prophet Zecharia 14:9, "Hashem will be the king over all the land; on that day Hashem will be One and His Name will be One." The commentators explain that this is referring to the Day of Judgment that will take place in Messianic times, when there will be no more idolatry and falsehood in the world. On a deeper level it is also referring to the new level of consciousness that we will attain at that time in which both Hashem (G-d's aspect of mercy) and His Name – Elokim (G-d's aspect of judgment) will be one. That is, we will gain a clear understanding in future times that everything is from Hashem and all that happens to us is really His loving kindness (this is also hinted to in the numerical value of the word echad (one) which is 13 and ahava (love) which is also 13). With this explanation of what will be in 'the future', we now have a tool to help us maintain a state of constant and increased happiness. If we know that everything we encounter in life, whether good or seemingly bad is really all Hashems' loving kindness, then we can certainly be happy all the time.
The second thing that comes to mind when one mentions the future is Olam Haba, The World to Come. Now what exactly is true about The World to Come which can help us achieve this state of happiness. For this we can look in the Likkutei Moharan, at the beginning of lesson 4, "When a person knows that all that happens to him is for his good, this is an aspect of The World to Come." Well there you have it; the Rebbe describes The World to Come with knowing that all that happens to a person is for his good.
So now if we put these two 'future' examples together, we can say that the real secret to happiness which is also the cure for all illnesses is the knowledge that everything is from Hashem and everything is for our good. The best way to express this is by thanking Hashem for everything in life, both good and bad with the knowledge that even if you can't understand why this is happening, it is still from Hashem and it is therefore good for you. Eventually the words will penetrate into your heart, and G-d willing you will merit seeing the true hidden good which is in everything that is happening to you.
This also goes well with what the prophet Yeshayahu (Isaiah) says, that in the future when Moshiach comes, there will be no death or sickness anymore. It makes sense that when we all gain the knowledge of the future, then we will all be happy, as it says in Tehillim, "Then our mouths will be filled with laughter", and this will be the end to all sickness and death in the world.
May we merit to make 'the future' now; and may Hashem bless us all with true happiness and a complete healing both physically and mentally for all of Am Yisrael, amen.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

The City of Diamonds


There was a very poor man who was told that somewhere on a far off island there existed a city of diamonds.
Seeing that he had no other choice, he packed up a few of his belongings, said goodbye to his wife and kids and set off on the journey.
After a long and difficult journey, he finally discovered the island with the city of diamonds. After collapsing on the diamond covered shore, he grabbed a handful of diamonds and stuffed them into his pocket. Before collecting more diamonds, he realized that he had not eaten in many days, so he staggered into a restaurant and ordered a large filling meal. When the bill came, he reached into his pocket, placed a diamond on the table and told the waiter to keep the change. The waiter started to laugh and said, "Surely you must be joking, over here these stones are of no value, here our currency is potatoes. In spud we trust!"
The poor man was in shock and didn't know what to do. The manager of the restaurant had him wash dishes to work off his bill. He worked hard and was offered a permanent job as a dishwasher which he accepted. It was not long before he moved up to becoming a waiter and because of his hard work and diligence, he eventually became the assistant manager. At this point he was earning a good amount of potatoes every month and he was feeling very good about his turn in fortune. Soon the old manager confided in the poor man that he wanted to retire and leave the restaurant over in his hands. The poor man gladly accepted and continued to grow more and more successful until he owned many other restaurants and businesses and he soon became the wealthiest man on the island.
After many years, he remembered his poor wife and kids and how much they all must be suffering and missing him, so he hired a giant ship, packed up all his millions of potatoes and set sail for the long journey home. Upon his arrival home, he greeted his wife with a big smile and open arms and said, here I am and we are rich, I have millions of potatoes in the boat. Now by this time, all his potatoes had gone rotten and turned into a stinky putrid mush. His wife clobbered him over the head with her purse and shouted at him, "You fool, you were supposed to get the DIAMONDS, what good are all these lousy rotten potatoes."
The poor man sunk into despair and he cried and cried over his terrible misfortune. Meanwhile, the wife being a true woman of valor started sifting through the rotten potatoes with the hope to salvage a few good potatoes to boil in a stew. In the corner of the boat she found a sack with her husbands' old clothes and she decided to take them to wash. In the pocket she felt a few lumps and to her surprise and great excitement, she discovered a pocketful of diamonds. They were able to live happily ever after...

Before our soul enters into this world, we are very clear on our mission: To gather as many diamonds (Torah and Mitzvot) as possible. When we get here however, we are constantly mislead and persuaded by the world into believing that the real currency is dollars or shekels or gold or whatever other toys and gadgets they make us desire.
How sorry we will be after we return home from our long journey here in this world only to discover that all our money and physical possessions are worth nothing more than rotten putrid potatoes and have no value at all in the spiritual world. How fortunate we will be if we have even a few diamonds to take with us back home...