Wednesday, February 20, 2013

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Increasing Joy

by Reb Gutman Locks @ Mystical Paths

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     When the month of Adar enters we are told that our joy is to increase. Does this mean that automatically our joy increases at this time of the year, or is this a directive for us to do something to increase our joy?

     It turns out that both statements are true. Historically, the Jew’s good fortune increases at this time of the year. For example, if we have a court case pending we should try to have the date set for Adar so the results will be more favorable for us. So we see that this time of the year good things increase for us even without us doing anything.

     But what about the instruction aspect?... to increase our joy. What can we do about that? Here are three things that you can do to increase your personal joy. If you will do them, it is certain that your joy will increase.

1.    Set aside a certain time each day to count your blessings. Each of us always has good things going on in life and negative things going on in life. As our days go by we tend to stress the ones that pull on us the most. Sadly, it always seems that the negative things make more noise than the positive things. This means that we spend a lot of our precious time thinking about the negative things that are going on in our world, or even in the broader world. This brings us down.

     If you will just for a little while stress the good things that are happening to you, you will soon come up with a long list of wonderful things to think about; no medical operations scheduled, B”H, no headache today, B”H, no one trying to lock you up, B”H, you have food to eat, B”H, the family is healthy, B”H,… the list can go on for days. As you think about all these wonderful things you are certainly going to become happy.

2.    If you really want to get happy, pick someone else up. It never fails. Even if you only pick him or her up with pleasant words, when you see that you made someone happy, you are going to become happy.

3.    If you will look when you do a mitzvah to see what changes, and you come to a deeper understanding of the mitzvah, you will begin to experience spiritual joy.    

     For instance; why do we lift our hands when we wash them, especially when we wash for bread? Look and see if you can understand something about the mitzvah from the way we do it.

     The medical profession learned about washing hands to prevent the spread of disease only some 100 years ago. Before that they laughed at us for washing after we touched something unclean. When they wash they are sure to hold their hands up to allow the dirty water to fall back away from the area that they are cleansing.

     Even when we wash for cleanliness, physical cleanliness is not our primary reason for washing. We wash to elevate our hands, both physically by cleaning them, and spiritually by lifting them up.

      Part of the spiritual elevation comes from our remembering that we wash for bread to remind us of the kohen who would have to be in a state of cleanliness to eat his chalah. But the blessing that we say when we wash our hands does not really mention washing. It has come to mean that, but the root of the words natilat yadayim do not mean to wash our hands. They mean to lift up our hands.

     The more you do any of these three things, the more they work. Think about the good things going on in your life. Call someone up and say something nice to him. Try and see. Increase your joy. It’s the best time of the year to do it.

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