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Jonathan Tobin: Defending the Right to a Jewish State

Heather Hale: Compliment your kids without giving them big heads

Megan Shauri: 10 ways you are ruining your own happiness

Carolyn Bigda: 8 Best Dividend Stocks for 2015

Kiplinger's Personal Finance editors: 7 Things You Didn't Know About Paying Off Student Loans

Samantha Olson: The Crucial Mistake 55% Of Parents Are Making At Their Baby's Bedtime

Densie Well, Ph.D., R.D. Open your eyes to yellow vegetables

The Kosher Gourmet by Megan Gordon With its colorful cache of purples and oranges and reds, COLLARD GREEN SLAW is a marvelous mood booster --- not to mention just downright delish
April 18, 2014

Rabbi Yonason Goldson: Clarifying one of the greatest philosophical conundrums in theology

Caroline B. Glick: The disappearance of US will

Megan Wallgren: 10 things I've learned from my teenagers

Lizette Borreli: Green Tea Boosts Brain Power, May Help Treat Dementia

John Ericson: Trying hard to be 'positive' but never succeeding? Blame Your Brain

The Kosher Gourmet by Julie Rothman Almondy, flourless torta del re (Italian king's cake), has royal roots, is simple to make, . . . but devour it because it's simply delicious

April 14, 2014

Rabbi Dr Naftali Brawer: Passover frees us from the tyranny of time

Greg Crosby: Passing Over Religion

Eric Schulzke: First degree: How America really recovered from a murder epidemic

Georgia Lee: When love is not enough: Teaching your kids about the realities of adult relationships

Cameron Huddleston: Freebies for Your Lawn and Garden

Gordon Pape: How you can tell if your financial adviser is setting you up for potential ruin

Dana Dovey: Up to 500,000 people die each year from hepatitis C-related liver disease. New Treatment Has Over 90% Success Rate

Justin Caba: Eating Watermelon Can Help Control High Blood Pressure

The Kosher Gourmet by Joshua E. London and Lou Marmon Don't dare pass over these Pesach picks for Manischewitz!

April 11, 2014

Rabbi Hillel Goldberg: Silence is much more than golden

Caroline B. Glick: Forgetting freedom at Passover

Susan Swann: How to value a child for who he is, not just what he does

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Financial Tasks You Should Tackle Right Now

Sandra Block and Lisa Gerstner: How to Profit From Your Passion

Susan Scutti: A Simple Blood Test Might Soon Diagnose Cancer

Chris Weller: Have A Slow Metabolism? Let Science Speed It Up For You

The Kosher Gourmet by Diane Rossen Worthington Whitefish Terrine: A French take on gefilte fish

April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review Oct. 27, 2006 / 5 Mar-Cheshvan, 5767

Making Your Happiness Happen

By Rabbi David Aaron


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To feel great you must integrate


The secret to true happiness is integration. It takes making sure that your daily activities are coordinated with your values and principles. If you innately feel that one of the fundamental principles of life is kindness and yet you do something cruel, then you are betraying yourself and you are fragmenting yourself. You will not be happy — that's guaranteed.

If, in fact, what is going on in a given situation is that the principle that should be guiding your action is justice but you go ahead and behave unjustly, then you are fragmenting yourself. Again, you will not be happy.

So therefore, your values and moral principles should be guiding and directing all your activity and your deeds should be synchronized to your principles. But that's not enough. Your values and moral principles must also be aligned with your plans and life purpose. If your principles are inappropriate to what you're really trying to accomplish, it won't work either. For example, you might be dedicated to justice, but if you're trying to have a warm relationship with your son, then dispensing justice, or being judgmental, may not be helping you to achieve that. It's the wrong principle to apply for this situation.

If you can get it together — if your particular activity is coordinated and synchronized with your principles and your principles are in synch with your plan and desired goals — you win the game of life.

But it's not that easy. Why?

Because maybe within yourself you are integrated but what if your individual life is not in coordination with the community?

In other words, maybe this is working for you as an individual — and your behavior is, in fact, completely coordinated with your principles. Your principle is "Thou shalt murder" and you do murder, and you feel real good about that, because you are being true to yourself, and your goal is to control the world and so you are moving right along. But in the communal sense, your particular system is not in harmony with the communal principles of life, the communal plan, the communal goal, the communal will.

But let's say you live in Nazi German in 1939 and you are in synch with your community and your community is really happy, because its principle is "Thou Shalt Murder and Take Over the World" and it is, in fact, doing its best to make that happen. But your community might be out of synch with the world, and if the world were to be happy with that, it might be out of synch with the universal context for all life — G-d. Our principles must be coordinated with the divine principles, with the ultimate principles and G-d's purpose for the world. Only then can we be truly happy and fulfilled because we are synchronized with the ultimate values and purpose of our lives as so determined by G-d.

THE SYMPHONY OF LIFE
Life is a big symphony orchestra. The music is written, the key signature is set, and each and every one of us has our own particular instrument — you're a guitar player, you're a trumpet player, you're a tuba player, you're a drum player — and then there is the conductor. In our metaphor, the conductor and the composer is, of-course, the One and Only — G-d.

Each and every one of us has been given a tremendous opportunity to facilitate the expression and the manifestation of this music — the song of life, the song of love. And this is a very beautiful experience.

If you've ever played in a band, you know. If not, perhaps you've been a member of a sports team. Same thing applies. There is a certain synchronicity of movement — everyone is moving in exact coordination with each other.

Of course, you don't get there from the moment you walk in. First it takes some tuning up. And that is like when we're children — we're just tuning up. When you walk into kindergarten, the kids are all over the place. And that's appropriate at that age. But eventually they settle down to learn.

So too we get to the point when we're playing the music, and we become perfectly synchronized with each other, perfectly interfaced with the mind and the will and the soul of the conductor. And that's an absolutely incredible experience — when each and everyone of us is playing our part just right and we understand how each one of our parts are so connected with each other. We are following the principles of the music. We've been practicing for quite some time, and we are playing properly. We are not like a bunch of monkeys that are just mimicking something; the divine music is coming through us. And we are all part of it.

There is a tremendous joy and a tremendous inner sense of meaning when we are all so coordinated and we are so harmonious.

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But then what happens — we hear this kind of dissonance. Hrrrrr .... hrrrr. Although the orchestra is so beautiful — a sensitive ear hears that there is this one violin player whose violin is just a little out of key. The connoisseur will know that that is destroying the entire symphony. Now, you might say who cares?

But the one who really knows what the music can be and should be — the conductor — starts to look around. Something is wrong here! That individual, because he is so out of key, is creating a dissonance for the entire harmonious work. And it's no small thing.

PLAYING OFF KEY
Say, a musician is playing, but playing a little off key. If he doesn't realize that, then he might go a little off beat. Till eventually he is playing a completely different song. And that's what is called in Torah tradition chet.

Now I have to warn you that the Hebrew word chet is often mistranslated as sin. Chet has its own original meaning with no adequate translation in English.

I learned exactly what chet means while I was taking a stroll in Jerusalem one sunny Sunday afternoon. I was walking along, chatting with my wife, when I heard from afar a thousand voices screaming: "Chet ! Chet! Chet!>" I looked around to see where the sound was coming from, imagining that perhaps some sort of religious sect was holding a revival meeting nearby. But as I came near to the noise, I realized that we had come near a soccer stadium, and it was the fans in the bleachers who were shouting "Chet! Chet!"

Because in soccer that's what you yell when someone's missed the goalChet!Chet! means nothing more than Miss! Miss!

And that is precisely how Torah defines sin. You're off the mark. You haven't hit the goal. You played the music off key, missed your cue.

The one problem with chet is that you start out with being a little off. You're not harmonious with the movement of life. You're not synchronized with the will of the conductor. But if you persist, pretty soon you come to the absolute ridiculous illusion that you don't need to play in harmony with anyone else. You will become a soloist.

So you say to yourself: What do I need a conductor for? What do I need this music for? Why do I have to limit myself to this symphony? I'll become the greatest solo tuba player in the world! I know nobody's ever done it, but that's because they didn't realize they could. I'll do it!

There is no such thing as a tuba player without a band. But you go off to be a solo tuba player. That's really the illusion of the ego. The ego tries to convince us that there is nothing that we need to be a part of — that there is nothing in our human behavior that needs to coordinate with anything beyond ourselves.

That's the ego. And that's what a cancerous cell really is. A cancerous cell is a cell that decides that it's self-defined, self-sufficient. It doesn't have to play by the rules of the body. It will do its own thing.

Ego allowed to go to its extreme creates an illusory sense that I exist independent of the band, independent of the world, independent of the all encompassing one reality — G-d. It believes that independent of all of that, I have meaning, I have substance, I have direction, I have value. But can that be true?

THE MEANING OF MEANING
What does it mean to have meaning?

I'll tell you through a metaphor. A word inside of a sentence is a meaningful word. A word outside a sentence is a meaningless word. Words have no meaning unless they are somehow harmoniously working with the rest of the sentence, which is harmoniously working with the rest of the paragraph, with the chapter, with the book. And it is fitting in with the theme that this whole book is all about. That's a meaningful word.

If I say, "Joe sneezed the ball," well, certainly one of these words is meaningless. Sneeze and ball don't seem to make any sense. So either ball is the meaningless word here, or sneeze is the meaningless word here, or maybe it's Joe who is really meaningless and doing such stupid things.

We see that the word must fit its context, and that's the yearning for meaning. How do I fit in? What's the role I play? How do I achieve harmony with the all-encompassing, all-embracing symphony of life?

And therein lies the path of happiness — figuring out how our daily activities synchronize with our principles, our principles with our plan, vision and desired goal of our lives. But also figuring out how do we fit into the universal principles, universal, plan, goal, will? Happiness is attuning and aligning our will to G-d's will — the one and only conductor of life.

None of us are a rock, nor an island. We must see ourselves as part of a greater whole. We can't just do what we feel like, when we feel like, how we feel like, because that undermines the symphony of life. We are so much a part of the symphony and the symphony is so much a part of who we are, that when we undermine the symphony, we ultimately undermine — and destroy — ourselves.

THE COLOSSAL MISTAKE
In this weeks' Torah portion we read:

The whole earth was of one language and of common purpose. And it came to pass, when they migrated from the east they found a valley in the land of Shinar and settled there. They said to one another........ "Come let us build a city, and a tower with its top in heavens, and let us make a name for ourselves, lest we be dispersed across the whole earth."...And G-d said, "Behold they are one people with one language for all, and this they begin to do! And now should it not be withheld from them all that they propose to do? Come let us descend and confuse their language, that they should not understand one another's language." And G-d dispersed them from there over the face of the whole earth; and they stopped building the city.

What is really behind this bizarre story? What is so terrible about unity and the desire to build a tower and a city?

The Kabbalah explains that what was really going on was a plot to undermine the moral principles that G-d established for the world. These people reasoned that if they could completely stay together and solidify a uniform moral consensus they could then do what ever they want. For instance, they wanted to make adultery good and moral, as well as other sexual perversions.

The Kabbalah tells us that tower and city are euphemisms for sex. They figured that morality is merely a social contract that can be determined by their own unified opinion. They believed that the whole is just the sum of the parts and therefore defined by the parts. G-d is the whole but we are the parts. And since the whole — G-d — is merely the sum of the parts we can create a unified moral consensus and determine G-d and the moral principles and goals of life. And they seem to have a good point. The only problem is G-d is the whole and the whole is greater than the sum of the parts, determines the parts and establishes the goal of life and the principles that govern the life of the parts. G-d dispersed them so that they would never elude themselves again and think they could rewrite and conduct the divine symphony of life.

We make happiness happen when we are in harmony with ourselves, each other and G-d. We feel great when we integrate.

               — For more on this topic see, please see: Endless Light: the ancient path of Kabbalah to Love, Spiritual Growth and Personal Power


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JWR contributor Rabbi David Aaron is the founder and dean of Isralight, an international organization with programming in Israel, New York South Florida, Philadelphia, Los Angeles and Toronto. He has taught and inspired thousands of Jews who are seeking meaning in their lives and a positive connection to their Jewish roots.

He is the author of the newly released, Inviting G-d In, The Secret Life of G-d, and Endless Light: The Ancient Path of Kabbalah to Love, Spiritual Growth and Personal Power , Seeing G-d and Love is my religion. (Click on links to purchase books. Sales help fund JWR.) He lives in the old City of Jerusalem with his wife and their seven children.



© 2006, Rabbi David Aaron