It was said here recently that man possesses a deep well of happiness within him. How does one open it up?
I am going to tell you the secret right now. Happiness is not one thing, happiness is ten thousand things. Now, pay attention; you’ll ridicule me but if you’re serious, you’ll see I’m giving you something; a big gift.
Number one, learn to be happy that you have a roof over your head. Here’s a poor woman, homeless, a little bit demented, and she’s pushing a shopping wagon. All her worldly possessions are in the shopping wagon; she has nothing. She doesn’t have a bathroom, she doesn’t have a kitchen, she doesn’t have a bed to sleep in. Where does she go when it’s raining? A pity on her. You see her, she’s bedraggled; it’s mamish a heartbreak to look at her. If she could only have a place to sleep. But she sits down on a bench; it’s freezing weather, and she’s trying to get a nap on a bench, trying to fall asleep on a park bench. It’s freezing, and she has no place to sleep. And you – you have a house with a roof over your head. How lucky she would be if she could have a little place, a shack with a roof over her head; she’d be the happiest person right now. Even without any heat, she could lie down on the floor at least and sleep. She doesn’t even have that. So first learn to enjoy a roof over your head. It takes a long time to appreciate a roof properly. A roof over your head! Ahh! What a happiness that is!
Then learn what it means to have running water in your house. Running water! It takes a long time to learn to enjoy that. When I was in Europe, we didn’t have any running water in the houses; no such thing! In the yeshiva, there was a keg of water the shamish used to fill up. Nobody drank from it, chas v’sholom. To drink from the water of the keg? It was poison, that keg of water. No water was cleaned by the city! Water came from a well and there were germs in the keg – they never washed the keg for years. Any water had to be boiled before you drank it in Europe.
And when you wanted to take a bath, there was no bathroom. So either you went to the shvitzbat – the public bathhouse, or they brought in a tin tub. Balabatim had a big tin tub, and they boiled up water in a teakettle. One after the other they poured it in, until the tub was half full. Then you bathed in that water, in a room someplace, in a bedroom. So you bathed in a tin tub filled with water which was boiled in teakettles. When you got through with it, if you had a little brother, he bathed after you in the same water because they couldn’t afford to fill it up twice. I saw it happen that way.
Nobody had a bathroom. When you went to the toilet in the wintertime, in the middle of the night, you had to put on your boots. I stamped through the snow at nighttime. We walked through the snow with heavy boots to the bathroom. You think the bathroom had a seat? No! You crouched over a hole. In the summertime, when you came out, you had to wait about an hour before the odor would go out of your clothing.
So you start enjoying bathrooms and running water in your house. You have cold water? Not warm water; just cold water in your house is a big simcha. After a while you start enjoying hot water too! Hot water? That’s a luxury! Hot water too!
Then you start enjoying the fact that you have a chair to sit on. In Arabia, they sit on the ground, they don’t sit on a chair. Arabs sit on the ground; they don’t have the luxury of chairs. The nomads have tents. When they want a bathroom, what do they do? They dig a hole in the bottom of the tent, they do their needs and then they cover it up with dirt. In the tent! That’s the luxury in an Arabian tent.
But you have a bathroom. So you’re a millionaire already; you have everything. Little by little, you study all these things, and you start becoming rich. After a while you see you have ten thousand things that other people don’t have.
Then you start studying your clothing. You have coat? A coat?! And you have pockets in it! You know, ladies don’t have pockets. That’s why I always say, you make the bracha “שלא עשני אשה” because women don’t have pockets. Men have pockets. Isn’t that a luxury to have pockets? Don’t think it’s a joke. Pockets are a big convenience. It’s a very big gift to have pockets!
After a while, you start enjoying your belt. You make a special brocha: “אוזר ישראל בגבורה”. You have to learn to enjoy your belt, otherwise you’re making a bracha levatala; you’re saying words for nothing every day. So learn to enjoy your belt.
All this takes time, but after a while, you become so full of happiness, you don’t know where to stop. So much happiness! So, we’re learning now that happiness consists of knowing many things. And if you invest your mind in studying each individual thing, after a while, it adds up to a very great amount of happiness.
TAPE # 921