Jewish Journal

Joy in the Absence of Happiness

by Beit T'shuvah

September 20, 2013 | 10:30 am

By Rabbi Mark Borovitz

I am basking in the Glow of the Holy Days! Services were amazing and the brilliance, depth and soulfulness of all the people who explained the prayers brought Joy to everyone. Joy is the theme this week. Sukkot is here and we say Moadim L'Simcha, therefore I thought Joy was an appropriate blog topic.

As I experience Joy, I find it different from happiness. I am joyous that I am alive today yet I am not happy about the state of affairs of our nation. I am in joy that I can invite people to the Sukkah and yet not happy that so many have died in the past year. I am joyous that I have a life of meaning and purpose and still not happy with everything that my life requires. I am in joy that I love and am loved, however I am not always a barrel of fun to be around. :)

What I am trying to say is Joy is a state of being, not an "emotion.” During Sukkot, we are living in huts—shaky, fragile things—and we are commanded to be joyous. Why? Because Sukkot is teaching us about life. Life is fragile, ask anyone who has experienced loss, illness, etc. Yet, we have to be in joy. Joyous that we have family and friends. Joyous that we have community. Joyous that we are alive and have an opportunity for change. Joyous that the gates of T’Shuvah, Tzedakah and T'Filah are never closed. Let's live every day in a state of joy. Hag Sameyach!

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