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Happyize to be Happyized – Parshat Reeh

Happyize to be Happyized – Parshat Reeh

Okay – you caught me. Happyize is not a real word. Til now.1 What do you think it means? To make someone happy. Or even yourself. Correct.

That’s why this week’s parsha, Parshat Reeh, is so fascinating. Creating happiness for self and others is mentioned at least 5 times in this parsha. What does it mean to be happy? How do you know when you are happy? My nephew once told me that he can’t explain it – he just knows that he is happy. It seems he is correct. I cannot claim that someone else is happy. He may look happy; he may act happy; he may seem happy. But only he can attest as to his level of happiness.

In talking about the holidays, for instance, there is a commandment to make other people in your circle happy.2 Rabbi Hirsch explains this beautifully. The happiness of the individual, he writes, is dependent on the happiness of the general populace and similarly, the happiness of the general populace is dependent on the happiness of all the individuals. When we work on the happiness of our dependents and the happiness of the downtrodden, then we can be fully happy. Anyone who has given, can attest to his own reaction to giving.

We are not here just for ourselves. Viktor Frankl, likes to quote the great sage Hillel: “If I am only for myself then what am I?” This concept has echoed throughout the ages. John Donne in his famous poem (whose last line was borrowed for the title of a Hemingway book)

No man is an island,
Entire of itself,
Every man is a piece of the continent,
A part of the main.
If a clod be washed away by the sea,
Europe is the less.
As well as if a promontory were.
As well as if a manor of thy friend’s
Or of thine own were:
Any man’s death diminishes me,
Because I am involved in mankind,
And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls;
It tolls for thee.
4

So, yes. If we wish to happyize ourselves, we are to happyize others as well. Then we can start to understand what true happiness is.

Notes

  1. Bragging rights on the new word?
  2. Devarim 16:14
  3. Frankl often quotes this line. Doctor and the Soul.
  4. John Donne – http://www.poemhunter.com/poem/no-man-is-an-island/
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