Though one of the most sought after qualities, simchah, joy, is one of the easiest to acquire. Indeed, the very fact that a person feels difficulty is a sign that he is on the wrong path, for genuine happiness is an expression of inner truth and understanding, qualities that we all inherently possess. Nevertheless, sadness and depression incapacitate thousands of intelligent, capable individuals and drain the joy of life from many others.

What is at the core of this phenomenon? Why were certain individuals able to pull themselves together after the horrors of the Holocaust and build beautiful new lives, while others need only lose their car keys to find themselves in the midst of a crisis?

For more than two centuries, the mystical teachings of Chassidism have produced individuals who have been recognized for their joy and inspiration. Their radiant life and energy stems from their profound spiritual awareness and absolute clarity of direction. These are people who live for a purpose and derive vitality from it.

In my years as Principal of the Machon Chana Women’s College in Crown Heights and in lecture tours throughout the country, I have observed the positive effects of extending the teachings of Chassidism to people with contemporary values and little or no Jewish background. With eagerness and enthusiasm, men and women from all walks of life have been able to apply these truths to their lives and begin their journey on the well-traveled path to pure, internal happiness.

This inspired me to prepare these lessons as audiotapes. The widespread interest in the tapes motivated me to communicate the same message in book form.

Although joy can be felt alone, happiness is enhanced by the presence of others. Indeed, the most exuberant celebration is experienced with other people. So too, this book reflects the fusion of many people’s efforts. Thanks go to:

Dvorah Huntsman Klein and Ruth Pepperman for transcribing the tapes;

Eli Touger, for helping transform the content from a spoken form to a readable text;

Ira Jacobson and R.C. Schilder, who edited the text;

Yosef Yitzchok Turner for the layout and the typography; and

Rabbi Yonah Avtzon, Director of Sichos In English, whose assistance and encouragement at every phase made this project possible.

May the happiness we feel in the present age herald the ultimate rejoicing we will all experience with the coming of the Redemption — when Jews from all over the world will stream to Eretz Yisrael, our Holy Land, “crowned with eternal joy.”1

The true source of inspiration to go out and spread the teachings of Chassidus, as well as the Chassidic concept of joy, is the Lubavitcher Rebbe himself, constantly urging, encouraging and inspiring all of us to share the beauty of Chassidus with all those within our reach.

Since the 3rd of the Hebrew month of Tammuz, when the passing of the Rebbe took place, many people have attempted to express their feelings about the Rebbe’s greatness; however, they all arrive at the same conclusion, as in the words of Akdomos, “If all the trees were quills and all the oceans were ink, all the heavens were parchment and all the people were scribes,” it would not be enough to express what we truly feel. The magnitude of the Rebbe’s greatness and his accomplishments in absolutely every area of Yiddishkeit is totally beyond description.

Nevertheless, in regard to the subject of simchah/joy, we can certainly say that the Rebbe and the Chassidic concept of joy are absolutely one!

The Rebbe’s approach to everything in life is with the emphasis on the positive and the emphasis on simchah. This is evident in all his talks, letters and his advice to people during yechidus (private audience).

The Rebbe himself personifies simchah and infuses all those around him with hope, vitality and joy.

When he walked into the shul, or out of the shul, it was always with a song of simchah. The farbrengens (Chassidic gatherings) were always full of joyous singing. Wherever the Rebbe went, with a wave of his hand, he encouraged joyous Chassidic song.

Whoever came in contact with him — the sick, the poor, the orphan, the widow, the lonely, the confused, or the simple pessimist — found that the Rebbe was aware of and understood their pain from their perspective. He always found the way, with just the right words, or with his smile, or a wave of his hand, to uplift, inspire and bring them all simchah.

In a talk given in the month of Elul during the year 5748 (1988), the Rebbe introduced simchah as the fundamental medium of action to bring about Mashiach’s coming. This talk describes that connection between Redemption and simchah and was placed at the end of the book, because after considering the Chassidic view of joy, one will be able to better appreciate the Rebbe’s talk.

Rabbi ShlomaMajeski

Purim, 5755

Crown Heights, N.Y.