You speak often about serving Hashem with happiness. But is it right to serve Hashem b’simcha when other people are suffering tzaros?
A man must have the ability to departmentalize his mind. I’ll give you an example. Just recently we had Tisha B’Av. We sat on the ground and we wept for the destruction of the Beis Hamikdash. We wept al beis Yisroel v’al am Hashem shenaflu b’charev.
Soon after that came Chamisha Asar B’Av and we didn’t say tachanun. לא היו ימים טובים לישראל כחמשה עשר באב – There were no happier days for the Am Yisroel than the 15th of Av. And they come one after the other; so soon that it seems to us like there is no time in between!
The answer is, that’s our job in life. We don’t have any emotions of our own. We feel with the emotions of the Torah. Eis lakol – There’s a time for everything! There’s a time to mourn and a time to rejoice.
And therefore when we think of other peoples’ misfortunes we should sympathize with them, no question. But it doesn’t mean that when you have some good fortune in your life that you shouldn’t appreciate it. Hakodosh Boruch Hu doesn’t want you to overlook the happiness He’s giving you. He wants you to appreciate it and enjoy it fully! And as a result you’ll serve Him with a full heart. You’ll be grateful in thanking Him.
And therefore we have to have a mind that’s capable of both. Even at the time that you are rejoicing, if you’ll remind yourself of your fellow man’s misfortunes you’ll feel for him. But that won’t stop you from dancing at your daughter’s wedding.
And therefore even the person who is mourning for the Churban Beis Hamikdash and for the multitudes who perished by persecution, nevertheless even then he shouldn’t lose sight of the fact that Hakodosh Boruch Hu gave Him garments. He makes the bracha malbish arumim even on Tisha B’Av. He makes a bracha for a belt, ozer Yisroel b’gevura, even on Tisha B’Av. He makes a bracha on the ability to walk even on Tisha B’Av. All the benefits that we enjoy in life we still enjoy on Tisha B’Av. So you see that even on the same day that you’re sitting and mourning, even on that same day you’re cognizant of the happiness that Hashem gives you. You can’t make a bracha for nothing! It means you are happy with these things. Only that you demonstrate sadness on that day. On another day, on Chamisha Asar B’Av, on Simchas Torah, you demonstrate joy. But always both qualities must be in the mind.
And that’s how a Jew must be. A Jew cannot be just one thing. If you’re just one thing then you’re a cripple. If you’re one thing, you lost your free will. A man who is alive has free will and he chooses constantly between this attitude and that attitude. And all the attitudes are true.
TAPE # 607 (August 1986)