When we realize that Hashem is our Benefactor and contemplate all He's done for us, this attitude of gratitude will animate and enliven our mitzvah performance...
by Dennis Rosen
The Torah tells us that our current exile and all our associated troubles result from our failure to serve Hashem with simcha (joy). But let's focus on the good news. If we serve Hashem with joy we can hasten the full redemption!
Emuna leads to happiness
Every day in our prayers we say Psalm 100 Mizmor L’Todah. King David tells us to serve Hashem with simcha. Rashi says to serve with gladness because you know that you can trust in Him. Ibn Ezra says don't hide your feelings: we should have joy that the all-powerful King is our Father.
Rabbi Lazer Brody says that whenever we have an opportunity to do a mitzvah, the King is saying, “My beloved son or daughter, I'm giving you an opportunity to cling to me.” When we see an opportunity to bond with the holy and awesome King, we will certainly serve with enthusiasm and joy.
Later in this Psalm, King David likens us to sheep with Hashem as our Shepherd. In Hebrew, the root word for shepherd is the same as the root word for friend. We should not only think of Hashem as our Guide and Protector. He is also our friend. When we pick up a siddur to pray or prepare to do a mitzvah we should realize we are about to interact with our very best Friend. Rebbe Nachman says when a person performs a Mitzvah joyously, it is a sign that his heart is wholly with God.
Thank you Hashem
"Be sure to fear the Lord and serve him faithfully. Consider what great things he has done for you." (Shmuel 12:24)
Joy is what happens when we allow ourselves to recognize how good things really are. King David calls Psalm 100 Mizmor LeTodah, a song of thanksgiving. Later he tells us to enter His gates with thanksgiving. Duties of the Heart says that whenever your mind is free, make a conscious effort to focus on the good that the Almighty has bestowed upon you.
When we realize that Hashem is our Benefactor and contemplate all He's done for us, this attitude of gratitude will animate and enliven our mitzvah performance. Moreover, the more a person thanks Hashem, the more he fortifies his emuna.
A gift of love: tools to connect
Rabbi Gutman Locks says that prior to doing a mitzvah, when we say a blessing we should concentrate on the words “Asher Kideshanu B’Mitzvotav.” This means Hashem is making us holy via the mitzvah we are about to perform. Rabbi David Aaron says that Hashem creates needs that He doesn't need in order to allow us to give and come close to Him.
Hashem has an infinite and eternal love for each of us. The Rambam says that the joy a person derives from performing a mitzvah causes tremendous love and gratification in heaven. This realization should make us treasure each opportunity to serve, become holy, and come close to our beloved Father and King. The Maharal explains that being careful about doing mitzvoth means doing them with love.
Please help me Hashem
Ok, let’s face it. In this physical and material world where Hashem’s presence is hidden, we may have difficulty serving with joy. The Tzemach Tzedek tells us to emulate King David and pray that we serve Hashem with joy. In Psalm 86:4, David asks Hashem to “Bring joy to Your servant’s soul.”
Sometimes what we ask for may not be good for us. Accordingly our sages tell us that when we ask for material things our requests are not always answered. However, our sincere spiritual requests are always granted. A key component of our daily personal prayers should be to ask Hashem to help us perform mitzvoth in a joyful and enthusiastic manner.
We can serve Hashem with joy because He is our King who loves us and we can trust Him. Rebbe Nachman says that trust in Hashem brings happiness.
- When we think and thank Hashem for all the great things He's done for us, we'll want to reciprocate and serve in a way that brings Him honor and joy.
- The Commandments are a gift from Hashem given to us in love so we can elevate ourselves and come close to Him.
- Since we have to overcome barriers in order to serve Him with joy, we need His help to succeed. Prayer will elicit Divine assistance that is crucial to our success.
Hashem is yearning for you to come close to Him. He loves to hear your voice. Any mitzvah that you do is so precious to Him. His love for you is unconditional and infinite. He loves each of us like an only child.
So go ahead and smile when you do a mitzvah. Try it even if you don’t feel like it just yet. You’ll soon feel a whole lot better and at the same time enhance your relationship with the One who believes in you and loves you. In the merit of doing mitzvoth with joy may we uplift our lives and the lives of everyone around us.