G‑d laughs. A blissful laugh. One that resounds throughout the universe.

“There is nothing beyond bliss,” states the ancient Book of Formation (2:4).Bliss is an inner laughter, so deep that it is neither heard nor felt Bliss is the origin of all being, the source of all life, the meaning behind all that occurs.

And what is bliss? It is being at self. At home. Where there is no need to go anywhere, where this moment is forever, where there is nothing else.

Bliss is an inner laughter, so deep within that it is neither heard nor felt—not even by the one who laughs.

Bliss In Three Parts

© Yakov Kaszemacher
© Yakov Kaszemacher

There is a kind of pleasure you take from outside of yourself. From music, from ideas, from teaching, from giving.

These can provide a delightful pleasure, but they do not provide bliss. It is not pure and simple pleasure, because it is not you. A part of you delights—that part of you that is touched by this activity outside of you. But the rest of you remains untouched, unmoved.

Then there are things that ignite the innate pleasure within you. An absurdity, a joke, stupid fun.

This pleasure is pure and simple because there isn't really anything giving you pleasure. It's just that your own essential sense of pleasure has been ignited. You are “enjoying yourself.” All of you delights.

Yet this delight cannot touch you to the core. Because it is not who you really are. And the proof—you know that you are happy. Which means that there is part of you that remains the observer, standing on the outside.

If it were truly you delighting, you would not be aware of it. You would lose all awareness of self.

Then there is the pleasure not from teaching, but from having your students beat you at your own game;

not from giving, but from seeing the success of those that you gave to;

not from fulfilling your goals, but from success you had never dreamed of;

not from living a good life, but from the surprise of knowing that you have lived, and there is yet more life that came from your life, and yet more, and in them you are found in a way you never knew that you knew.

This is pure bliss, a pleasure you cannot feel. Because it is you. There is nothing left of you to act as observer and say, “I am enjoying myself”—because every cell of your being is engaged in this blissful state.

It is the discovery of the you that you never realized you knew.

The Cosmic Story of Bliss

© Yakov Kaszemacher
© Yakov Kaszemacher

In the story of the universe, all these three forms of pleasure play a part:

The Creator delights in each of His creations, in every ant that crawls, in every wind that blows. It is a current of delight that electrifies all things, surging through the veins of the cosmos so each creature tingles with life and celebrates life.

Yet that is not yet a pure delight.

The pleasure that set all things into motion at the start, the beginning, the point from which all things originate, and to which all things lead, that was a pure delight—because nothing yet existed but the Creator.

Yet not entirely pure, not entirely of the core-essence.

The ultimate blissful pleasure is that which we created beings give back in return—when a lost soul returns, a hidden spark of meaning is returned to its place, a piece of the world that seemed unsalvageable, ugly and sinister is transformed so that it shines, even if but for a moment with its essential, primordial light. All the more so when the entire world is entirely transformed.

It is then that all the universe is flooded with that blissful, divine pleasure, with a light that will never be withdrawn.

Because that pleasure derives from a place the Zohar calls “the beginning that is not known.” Meaning: that which is beyond knowing. Because it is one with Him. It is that which He has chosen freely, and so all of Him is engaged.

Through His creation, Through His creation, the unknowable is uncovered, and G‑d laughs in surprise.the unknowable is uncovered, and G‑d laughs in surprise. All the universe resonates with that laugh.

Which is why every mitzvah, every good deed, every act of true, meaningful life, is meant to be done with great joy and celebration.

But most of all, remorse must be with joy. An inner joy.

Because you have changed yourself. You have changed your past. You have surprised and delighted even the One who made you. You have brought all the universe to exclaim, “Look what this creature has done with the life he was given! Look how he has made his darkness shine!”

Yom Kippur, then, is the ultimate day of divine bliss. On this day of At-onement, G‑d laughs in delight as we return to be one with Him.

As for us, we have come home. That is bliss, that being at home.