April 14, 2024
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April 14, 2024
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Can Being Religious Make Us Happy?

“If being Jewish doesn’t make you happy, you’re doing it wrong,” I once heard said. Why are we taught acceptance of the yoke of Torah, acceptance of the yoke of the Mitzvos, Kabalas ol Torah, Kabalas ol Mitzvos? Are they a burden? Is this why so many of our youth leave the Orthodox community?

Rabbi Irving “Yitz” Greenberg writes, “There have been times when this religion has brought oppressive minutia and obligations so great I felt guilty no matter what I accomplished. Yet on balance the overwhelming effect has been to fill my life with a sense of Divine Presence, joy and a sense of purpose and meaning.” The Ramban taught, “Lo nitnu Torah elah litzaref HaBriyot,” “The sole purpose the Torah was given was to purify and refine mankind.” The Torah is a gift to man; God doesn’t need it.

It’s purpose is to teach us the supremacy of moral and ethical values, the family, human relationships, love, gratitude as opposed to the materialistic physical pleasure value system, wealth, power, beauty, selflessness. Does being religious make us happy? Maybe not, but it should fill our lives with true maturity and a sense of value, purpose and meaning.

The Rebbe of Kotzk once confronted a young man who had come to his yeshiva. “Why have you come here?” he asked. “I have come to find God,” the young man replied. “Too bad you wasted your time and your money,” the Rebbe said. “God is everywhere. You could have found Him just as well had you stayed at your home.” Then for what purpose should I have come?” asked the student. “To find yourself,” the Rebbe answered, “to find yourself.”

By Martin Polack

Martin Polack is a business analyst.

 

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