Why is it that non-religious seem to be happier than frum people sometimes?
At least you were good enough to add the word “sometimes.”
And the answer is that those frum people who think that the nonreligious are happier are not really frum people – they’re only superficially, externally, frum. Inwardly, they’re not. If a person is not a שש ושמח, if he’s not full of joy that he is mekayeim mitzvos, then he’s not an authentic frum Jew. He is a pretty poor example of an Orthodox Jew. And I’m sorry to say that there are very many like that. A person who learns what Torah means becomes a happy person.
But you have to study to be frum. It states in the Torah that a Jewish king must carry a sefer Torah wherever he goes. That’s a law of a Jewish king. He cannot go out without a sefer Torah — it was hanging in a little golden case from his arm. And why? The Torah says, למען ילמד ליראה את השם – In order he should learn to fear Hashem. Why doesn’t it say in order that he should fear Hashem? Why does it say to learn to fear Hashem?
The answer is, you have to learn how to fear Hashem. You can’t just make up your mind, “I’m going to fear Hashem.” Oh, no! You have to learn! And most people never learned anything about it.
It states in Iyov: הן יראת השם היא חכמה – Behold the fear of Hashem, that is wisdom. היא is a mi’ut. It means only that is the real chochma. It’s a wisdom, a science, and you have to study it. In Mishlei it says: אם תבקשנה ככסף – If you will seek it like you seek silver, וכמטמונים תחפשנה – and you’ll search for it like you search for hidden treasures, אז תבין יראת השם – only then will you understand how to fear Hashem; it means how to be aware of Hashem; how to be frum.
How do you search for hidden treasures? By sitting down at home?! Oh no! You have to get up and hire a certain kind of boat, a diving boat. You have to make expeditions. You have to study plans. You have to study history to know where ancient Spanish galleons were sunk. You have to go through a great deal of expense and discomfort before you can find hidden treasures.
So if you look for yiras Hashem like you look for hidden treasures, אז תבין יראת השם – then you’ll understand yiras Hashem. It doesn’t say then you’ll feel Hashem; it says you’ll understand. You have to understand how to be a yarei Hashem.
So here’s a frum Jew and he thinks that he is suffering for his frumkeit, and that the irreligious are having a good time. So that Jew better get busy and learn how to be a frum Jew. He has no yiras Hashem. He’s frum; but frum and yiras Hashem are two separate things.
The non-religious are never happier than the true yirei Hashem! A non-religious man is running after happiness. He’s busy pursuing happiness. That’s why he is so busy, but he doesn’t have it. He’s always running around looking to find it. But the one who has it doesn’t run around. He has it already; he’s enjoying it.
And therefore, you can judge yourself by that criteria. If sometimes you look out of the window in the evening and you envy those who are riding by in crowded cars — boys and girls together – if you have a twinge of envy; you think maybe they’re having a better time, then you have to know that you’re still far away from the goal. You’re not a yarei Hashem yet.
You can have pity on them, yes. You can say, “Ah, ruined lives. Fools, lunatics,” and you go back to your sefer and you feel the taste of honey, like Dovid HaMelech said, “It’s sweeter than honey.” That’s the criterion to know if you’re a frum Jew.
TAPE #192 (November 1977)