Vayechi (Genesis 47:28-50:26 )
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GOOD MORNING! I was speaking with a reader of the Shabbat Shalom. He told me, "I always carry around a
copy of one of your faxes and read it from time to time." I asked him "which edition?" and after retrieving it from his jacket, he responded, "August 3, 1996 ... on happiness." I thought it might be time to review the topic.
WHAT IS THE SECRET FOR HAPPINESS?
Happiness is the pleasure you have in appreciating what you have; it is looking at the glass as half full. It says in Pirke Avot 4:1 ("Ethics of Our Fathers" -- found in the back of most Jewish prayerbooks), "Who is the rich man? He who is happy with his portion". There used to be a common motivational sign during the Depression hanging in businesses in the United States: "I was sad that I had no shoes until I saw a man who had no feet."
Happiness is not dependent upon material acquisition. There are plenty of people who have what you desire and they are not happy.
Many people think that Happiness is a happening: "If only such and such happened, I would be happy." Happiness is not a happening. It is a state of mind, a state of being. The Sages say, "He who has one hundred wants two hundred... No one dies with even half of his desires fulfilled" (Kohelet Rabbah 1:34). One has to work on his focus in order to be happy.
According to the Torah, Happiness is an obligation. It is an obligation to those around you. Just
like you wouldn't want an unhappy parent, child or spouse, don't be one yourself. It is also an obligation to the Almighty -- even if one serves the Almighty, but "does not do it with gladness of heart" (Deuteronomy 28:47) he is culpable for not acting with joy.
Happiness takes work. If you want to be happy, then for thirty days play the Happiness Game. Make a list of all your blessings, both physical and spiritual. Then add one a day for thirty days. At the end of thirty days, prioritize them according to their value to you. (Doyou value your eyes or your ears more? Your job or your legs?) Whenever something happens or you feel sad, review your list.
If you don't appreciate what you have, there is no purpose to acquiring anything else. You won't enjoy it either.
On a higher spiritual level, if we appreciate that the Almighty loves us, then we can appreciate that all that we have is for our good -- to help us to develop our character, trust in G-d, and our spiritual qualities. If we have this love of G-d and this trust in G-d, it helps us to appreciate what we have.
Why do we need happiness? It gives us energy and power for living. Happy people are healthier, feel better and can accomplish more. Appreciating what you have helps to keep you optimistic towards the future which helps you to succeed!
(If you are interested in being happier and looking for practical ideas to help you, I highly recommend Rabbi Zelig Pliskin's Gateway to Happiness. It has helped countless people to change their lives and enjoy life more. It is available at your local Jewish bookstore, at judaicaenterprises.com or by calling toll-free to 877-758-3242. Also, if you prefer audio, you can download mp3's from AishAudio.com . I highly recommend "Happiness" by Rabbi Noah Weinberg and "Discovering Happiness" by Rabbi Yaakov Weinberg).
For more on "Happiness" go to ShabbatShalomAudio.com!
Torah Portion of the Week
The parsha, Torah portion, opens with Jacob on his deathbed 17 years after arriving in Egypt. Jacob blesses Joseph's two sons, Manasseh (Menashe) and Ephraim (to this day it is a tradition to bless our sons every Shabbat evening with the blessing, "May the Almighty make you like Ephraim and Manasseh" -- they grew up in the Diaspora amongst foreign influences and still remained devoted to the Torah. The Shabbat evening blessing for girls is "to be like Sarah, Rivka, Rachel and Leah.") He then individually blesses each of his sons. The blessings are prophetic and give reproof, where necessary.
A large retinue from Pharaoh's court accompanies the family to Hebron to bury Jacob in the Ma'arat Hamachpela, the burial cave purchased by Abraham. The Torah portion ends with the death of Joseph and his binding the Israelites to bring his remains with them for burial when they are redeemed from slavery and go to the land of Israel. Thus ends the book of Genesis!
based on Growth Through Torah by Rabbi Zelig Pliskin
The Torah states in last week's Torah portion,
"And Pharaoh said to Jacob, 'How many are the years of your life?' and Jacob said to Pharaoh, 'I have lived one hundred and thirty years. The years of my life were few and bad and they have not reached the years of my fathers." (Genesis 47:8-9)
Ultimately, Jacob lived 33 years less than his father, Isaac. Why was he not granted the years of his father?
The commentary Daas Zkainim cites the Midrash that Jacob was punished for saying that the days of his life were few and bad. He lacked appreciation for life. The Midrash tells us that the 33 years he was denied correspond to the 33 words of his complaining in verses 8-9.
Rabbi Chaim Shmuelevitz, former Rosh Hayeshiva of the Mir Yeshiva, often
cited this Midrash and explained that we should gain such a great appreciation for life itself that even if we have many difficulties in life, we will still live a life of joy. Experiencing this daily joy of living, we would be unable to say that our life was bad. The ultimate level to strive for is feeling a tremendous joy in living; then trivial matters will not cause you to complain.
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CANDLE LIGHTING - January 5
(or go to http://www.aish.com/shabbat/candlelighting.asp)
Guatemala 5:28 - Hong Kong 5:35 - Honolulu 5:45
J'Burg 6:46 - London 3:48 - Los Angeles 4:40
Melbourne 8:28 - Mexico City 5:53 - Miami 5:27
New York 4:24 - Singapore 6:54 - Toronto 4:37
QUOTE OF THE WEEK:
Happiness is not doing what you enjoy,
but enjoying what you do.
Helena Igra, MD