18 Tishrei 5782 / Friday, September 24, 2021 | Torah Reading: Sukkot
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Dr. Emuna: SMILE!    

Dr. Emuna: SMILE!

Happiness is not a feeling; it is a choice. First and foremost know that you are in control of your happiness! Maybe it seems impossible? Read on.


In order to heal ourselves with emuna, the foundational concepts which I explained in the opening three articles in the Dr. Emuna Series must be applied to every new tool we are going to learn. So now, let’s start filling our “practical emuna” toolbox! 


The obvious place to start is with simcha - happiness. Rebbe Nachman was extremely strong about the need to be happy all the time, so much so that almost everyone knows his famous quote: “It is a very big mitzvah to always be happy!” 


Rebbe Nachman also explains in Likutei Moharan that the root of all sickness is sadness. On the flip side, the root of all healing is happiness! Therefore, it is crucial to begin working on this foundation if we want to be healed of our physical and emotional illnesses. 


Rabbi Arush explains that happiness is not a feeling; it is a choice. It is true that Rebbe Nachman gave lots of practical advice of how to be happy, such as listening to upbeat music, dancing, and keeping a happy tune in your head. However, first and foremost know that you are in control of your happiness! Maybe it seems impossible? Read on. 

Happiness isn’t something that just comes to you. It isn’t something that comes only after you get married, or have a child, or find a better job, or whatever. NO! You must choose to be happy. You must choose to focus on the gratitude, on the good things in your life, on the silver linings. You must say “thank you” to Hashem over and over, every day, until you start really feeling the gratitude and happiness of realizing that you already have everything! Everything you do lack is from Hashem, and for the best. People around the world are living totally different, happier lives just from the simple advice of saying “thank you Hashem” 100 times a day. 


Why does it work so well? The answer lies in the fact that the greatest happiness we can ever experience, is the happiness of closeness to God. And what is emuna? A real connection with God! The highest level of complete emuna is thanking Hashem and knowing that everything in our lives down to the tiniest detail, is from Hashem and for the best. The feeling of happiness that you feel after strengthening your emuna from within a difficulty, and thanking Hashem from the bottom of your heart because you know that you are in Hashem’s Good Hands even if the situation seems just so bad, is indescribable.  


We must work on our happiness every day, hand in hand with working on our emuna. Personally, nothing makes me happy like learning about emuna – it's like air for the soul, and salve for an aching heart. It is also important to ask Hashem to always be happybelieve in Him totally, and to be able to say thank you with our whole heart. 

Another very important trick to feeling happy is just to smile! It seems so simple that you might wonder how it could be so powerful. Smiling pumps the body with good-feeling endorphins. So even if you don’t feel it, force yourself to smile, and soon enough you’ll start feeling better. Don’t forget to smile at Hashem every day, whether you “feel it” or not, and say, “I love you Hashem!” What a feeling. Don’t believe me? Try it for one week and then tell me what happened! 


OK, I’ll share my story first. This is what happened to me just a few weeks ago: 


 I was walking home with my toddler from preschool. There is always so much to do, and as usual I was rushing and feeling overwhelmed. I had not accomplished half of what I wanted to, especially important things like praying properly in the morning. I was also worried about some difficulties in my life and feeling quite sorry for my situation overall.  


I looked up at the sky. I looked around at the beautiful Jerusalem buildings bathed in sunlight, and suddenly remembered this teaching from Rabbi Arush. So, I smiled at Hashem. I became filled with gratitude: “Thank you Hashem, for the sky! Thank you Hashem, for the sun! Thank you Hashem, for the beautiful day! Thank you Hashem, that I have the incredible merit to live in Jerusalem and see all this! And breathe this holy air! Thank you!!! 


It really came out of nowhere, honestly, and quite surprised me. I have been praying about happiness for some time but had not really been feeling the resultsSuddenly, here I was, happy! And nothing whatsoever had changed in my situation! I took a deep breath, and reminded myself of Rabbi Arush’s quip: “What do I really lack? Enough thank yous!” It felt like all the worry just slid off my shoulders, and in its place, emuna and happiness. 


Something clicked inside me since then. I decided, “I am just going to be happy anyway!” Not that I haven’t had my moments since then, but even in the midst of the worst of it, something is different. I take a deep breath and remind myself: “I am just going to be happy anyway! I can’t change the situation; my only choice is to be happy, or not! As Rabbi Arush sings, ‘Or emuna, or Gehinnom (Hell)! I want emuna! I want Heaven on earth! I choose to be happy!” 


Finally, don’t forget to be happy when you pray. Rabbi Arush says, “Just smile at Hashem! Say your prayers happy and smiling at Hashem! Someone who prays Shemonei Esrei with a tune, with happiness – all his sins are forgiven.  


“Everyone is always talking about ‘The Gate of Tears is never locked.’ You think that’s something? The Gate of Happiness! There is a reason why the Evil Inclination is always yelling: ‘CRY! CRY!’ [Because it isn’t really the right path] 


Put your tears to the side, dance, sing, be happy and smile!” 


So, SMILE and have a great week! 




Rachel Avrahami grew up in Los Angeles, CA, USA in a far off valley where she was one of only a handful of Jews in a public high school of thousands. She found Hashem in the urban jungle of university. Rachel was privileged to read one of the first copies of The Garden of Emuna in English, and the rest, as they say, is history. She made Aliyah and immediately began working at Breslev Israel. 



Rachel is now the Editor of Breslev Israel's English website. She welcomes questions and comments to her email: rachel.avrahami@breslev.co.il.






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