Serving G-d with joy is a virtue. So when does happiness become a false god? When there is a "pursuit of happiness." True happiness is to be content with what G-d gives you whereas idolatrous happiness is the desire for more than what you have.
It sounds to me as though the Rabbi is saying that happiness is just another word for being grateful, and that being content is just another way of saying acceptance. In other words, we should be grateful for being given life (happiness) because it is a gift. That's why we say "Modeh Ani" every morning when we wake up. That's why when we say a bracha and thank HaShem for what he has provided, the underlying obligation is to do it with joy/happiness/gratefulness. How can we truly thank Him if we are not grateful for life and what it offers? The idea of "pursuit of happiness" seen from this angle is humorous. It reminds me of "kind of pregnant". You either are or you're not. You can't "pursue" gratefulness. You either are grateful or you're not. Alternately, if being content is accepting your purpose in life (not your circumstances), and your purpose as a Jew is to raise everything to spiritual heights, be it music, food, medicine, etc. and you accept that purpose, you will be content.
Pazit Smillie Ontario, Canada
February 25, 2013
This world is awesome. Thank our Lord for humbling us .
The moon also affects the tides of the ocean because of it's gravitational pull on earth, and being that this evening is brightened by a full moon it is certainly romantic this evening; however the extreme high ocean tide this morning prevented me from catching a wave. This certainly was G-ds humbling power that gives me perspective. If man must attain to be happy, as a surfer seeks waves, then he is bound to be frustrated. I learned to sit and float in awe of the power of this universe and be content and learn that when I fight the force of nature I end up tired, frustrated and act an arrogant fool. I simply thanked Him for emphasizing His Might! Never too late to learn and grow even when it seems we are not winning. Be thankful for every sip of air!!!!
Andre Cohen Huntington Beach, Ca
January 19, 2012
For Julie, Durham, UK.
Thank you for that Julie - it makes good sense. I have another scenario: what about a person born into poverty? - very little food (and only sometimes), inadequate clothing and shelter. Should this person not try and "pursue happiness?" - or be content with what G-d gave him?? While I respect the Rabbi I do feel that he has over simplified this and is asking us to merely accept what he says. Unfortunately, I cannot do that. Moses argued with G-d - I am arguing with Rabbi Friedman - and would appreciate his answer to what i have said.
Jonathan Levy Johannesburg, Gauteng
January 18, 2012
thank you very much
I loved to hear all ! Thank you dear rabbi! What a wisdom you shared and the peace in your voice.
Anonymous Bro, sweden
January 16, 2012
Thank you sooooooo much! Life is a G_dly event and cause for happiness. Wow!
To Jonathan: I think if you are content to develop your talents it is good isn't it? So long as the ambition doesn't get out of hand and start to dictate to you, like, what happens if you do your best and you get a less good mark in your degree than your ambition desires? Then one must apply these teachings, maybe the mark you got is more than you need! Can you be content with yourself? Can you rejoice in being alive? This is a continuous challenge I think, perhaps it never ends. At least it seems that way to me as I travel through life.
Julie Durham, UK
January 15, 2012
AMERICAN IDOLS 'HAPPINESS'
I would love to have the pleasure (if u will!)of meeting and learning from u in person! I feel fortunate enough to have discovered you on my own so I get to listen to the truth and wisdon of which u speak!!! It's like you are psychic about life. Your insights, intuition, your interpretations of what u have studied are spot on. Did u learn what u teach from the Torah, the Talmud, Mishnah? Or did you become so "lern-ed" from your own Jewish life experience. DO NOT STOP TEACHING, or talking-talk a little louder though.
You have had a major effect on my life. I wish u were my therapist. That would be perfect-just never stop doing what u do! "I can't wait to hear the next one. I need to learn from u daily. U r so wise-u make much sense. No Proffessorcould match what u teach! Thank u.
To (who posted above)Ambition or wantng a degree is not bad.These things enhance us non-materially.These 2 things enable u2 give 2 life.Ambition inherently moves u forward & that's not bad thing. Mell!
Ms. melly rose
January 14, 2012
the voice that is saying DO IT, is the voiuce of Satan to try to get us to sin againt G-D it is up to us to RESIST the voice why is it wrong to be happy.
linda nicholson mt jackson, va usa
January 12, 2012
This video is very special... for a time like ours. Peace...
hervin vanegas. Luquillo, PR
January 8, 2012
So, is it bad to be ambitious? - or to want to obtain a degree? Surely G-d, who has given all of us various talents etc., wants us to make use of these - which necessitates us desiring more than we have? - or is the Rabbi merely referring to material "things?"