The Art of Simcha
– By Janna Davis –
This season is the time of year for the world to experience simcha, the Hebrew word for joy or gladness, through the celebrations of Thanksgiving, Chanukah, Christmas and the New Year. What exactly is joy or simcha? As we look back at the year in review it seems to be an appropriate time to research and try to understand exactly what “joy” is and how it affects our lives.
As well as Wikipedia defining simcha as gladness or joy, it goes on to quote a popular teaching by Rabbi Nachman of Breslov, a 19th-century Chassidic Rabbi, who describes joy as a “Mitzvah Gedolah Le’hiyot Besimcha Tamid,” or as the Rabbi interpreted long ago, “it is a great mitzvah to always be in a state of happiness. When a person is happy, they are much more capable of serving G-d and going about their daily activities than when depressed or upset.” Though some may not agree with Chassidic teaching on some issues, the Brit Chadasha, or New Testament, does remind us in Scripture to “rejoice in the L-rd always.” And while it may not be easy for many people to both follow Chassidic and Brit Chadashah teachings, there is wisdom in these scriptural teachings in relation to joy.