The very first thing when you decide to become a servant of G-d is that from that very instant on, you have to be filled with joy. Because G-d cannot stand sadness.
Sometimes I hate myself for it, but it’s true; I can’t stand shleppers / sad people, hanging on me when they’re asking for help. If they could only say the same thing with joy, then, “No problem, of course I will help.”
There is, so to speak, ‘retail sin’ and ‘wholesale sin.’ An example of a retail sin is, let’s assume I came here and I was so very hungry, and there was a piece of ham lying here and nobody was looking. Let’s assume I took it and ran up to my room, and ate a little ham… Let’s assume it was a terrible sin. But it was still a little retail sin.
But when I’m sad, that’s not a retail sin, it’s a wholesale sin. It is affecting my whole being.
If I eat a little piece of ham and come downstairs, and nobody noticed I stole the ham, nothing happens to the people around me. But if I come downstairs and I am sad, every person who looks at me gets the creeps. I change the vibrations of the world. It’s not merely a wholesale sin, it’s a world sin! And who am I to commit a sin against humanity, against the whole world?
The moment you go into the service of G-d, the moment you decide to become a perfect human being, at that moment it has to be clear to you that the greatest sin in the world is to be sad.
And Rebbe Nachman says, hold on with your last bit of strength to be happy.
You have to feel like you’re drowning in the ocean, and you have just one piece of wood to hold onto, and the name of that piece of wood is joy. You have to fight for it with your very life. Because if you’re not filled with joy, you’re absolutely drowning.
What should I do?
O.K. so you say, “Look, I’m sorry, I’m sad; what should I do?” The answer, or rather one of the answers, is like this:
Usually, sad people are sad because they believe that everything is bad, everything is black. “Everyone hates me, I hate everyone, everybody is rotten, everybody is ugly.” So, Rebbe Nachman says, “Can you possibly find one person in the world who is not so ugly / terrible? You must have once met someone you loved. You think you’re terrible? Let’s assume it’s true. But maybe, one day in your life….”
You see, if a person is sad, you can’t argue with him because he’s too stupid to argue with; you can’t tell him he’s not ugly; he’ll tell you, “I know I’m ugly, I’m not stupid.” So you say, “It’s true, I’m convinced. But, was there one moment when your soul was shining? Was there one moment when you were beautiful? Was there one moment when your soul was shining? If you have got one such moment in your life, it’s unbelievable. A lot of people live for 70 years without one good moment. You had one good moment, so jump out of your skin with joy, that G-d gave you one happy moment. And maybe G-d is ready to give you another happy moment.”
You’re sick because you’re so sad
Rebbe Nachman said something, which has been proven today. You’re not doing G-d a favor when you’re happy, you’re doing yourself a favor, because, sadly enough, this is the sad truth – sickness only comes upon you when you’re sad. If you’re completely filled with joy, then sickness has no admission. Not a physical, nor mental, nor any sickness in the world; sickness cannot reach you. And even if, G-d forbid, it reaches you, it is so much on the outskirts of your being, that it takes practically no time at all to heal it.
But, if you’re sad, then when sickness, G-d forbid, falls upon you, it takes over your whole being.
He also says that you are not sad because you’re so sick, you’re sick because you’re so sad. If you were happy, you would not be sick. You’re getting sicker because you are so sad.
So what you have to do is…
Can you stop being clever for one hour? You’re sad because, logically, cleverly, you have the right to be sad. You’re right. So be a fool for one hour. Be G-d’s fool for one hour. Have you ever seen fools? They’re always happy. And this is not stupid, they have something holy. In Kabalistic terms, it’s called shtus dekedusha, holy foolishness.
You think that when you are sad, you really have a little perspective on life? You are sad because you think that your life is not in order. Do you really know what’s going on with you? Rebbe Nachman says; I promise that when you are sad, you can’t even think straight. But if you are filled with joy, then you can really put aside one hour and really think clearly, “What am I doing with my life?”
G-d refuses to send messages to a sad person. G-d is ready to let you know what to do, but if you walk around with a long face, G-d is not interested in talking to you. But if you are filled with joy, G-d lets you know what to do.
The most important thing in the world is to pour out your heart before G-d. Talk to G-d.
When you’re sad, there’s such a wall between you and G-d, you can’t pour out your heart before Him. But if you’re filled with joy….
When someone is sad, you cannot relate to that person, they’re so into their sadness they make two million walls around themselves. And you want to tell them, “It’s OK, I’m with you, I love you, I care for you.” But it doesn’t reach them. But if they are filled with joy…
I want to tell you something unbelievable, without sounding sad. There were some people in concentration camps in Auschwitz, Chassidishe mentsh, [Hassidic men], who walked around filled with joy. And, can you believe, someone told me that there were two Chassidishe Yidden [Hassidic Jews], who would literally dance all through Friday night?
How do I know I’m not fooling myself?
One of Rebbe Nachman’s strongest teachings is that you can fool your head, you can fool your hands, but you cannot fool your feet. So if I say, “Do you notice how happy I am? I’m singing with joy.” How do I know I’m not fooling myself? The answer is very simple. If someone says, “Do you want to dance?” and I say, “Really, I’m too tired,” then I’m lying; I’m not happy.
Sometimes you go to a wedding and you just can’t get up to dance, because there’s absolutely no love in the air. Your feet pick up on it. Other times you go to a wedding and you absolutely can’t stop dancing. In your head, you don’t know the difference. But your feet always know. So Rebbe Nachman says, if you want to test your joy, watch your feet.
In Hebrew, the three major Holidays are simply called the shalosh regalim [the three feet (supports)], because when you are happy, it’s the feet that know it. The fourth foot will be when the Mashiach [Messiah] is coming; right now the wagon is still riding on three wheels.
I still can’t get it together
Now suppose I say, “I know all this, but I still can’t get it together.” Rebbe Nachman says, you must know, whenever you do a good deed, at that moment they’re not only opening the gates in Heaven for you to do a good deed, but at that very instant they are also opening gates for you to be happy. Because how can you do something for G-d without joy? So since G-d wants you to do it, He also opens gates for you to be happy.
So if you’re sad and heartbroken, and someone calls you up and says, “Can you do me a favor?” and you answer, “Right now I’m too sad to do you a favor,” it’s crazy; right now G-d was opening gates of joy for you, and at that moment G-d would have opened up all the gates of joy for you.
So Rebbe Nachman says, if you can’t get it together, find one person and do them a favor, and at that moment all the gates of Heaven are open.
Forget about doing someone a favor; do you know, when you are happy, how much life you give to the people around you? Do you know how much death you give to people when you are sad? Rebbe Nachman says, do you have a right to kill the people next to you?
So he says, do you know what you are doing when you’re filled with joy? You’re absolutely emanating life!
And he says that the greatest thing in the world is to give life to somebody else.
What’s the most G-d like thing in the world? It’s giving life to people, giving life to the world. So the moment you’re filled with joy, you are absolutely on a G-d level, on the highest level.
Erase pain from people’s faces
Most people have so much pain inside, not only they have nobody to tell it to, they don’t even have words for it. Because most people are filled with pain. Rebbe Nachman says, they have so much pain, and they don’t have words for it, but it is written on their faces. When you walk around with joy, and you make that person smile, you erase a little bit of that pain which has no words.
And when you erase that pain which has no words, eventually they open up and they tell you their problem. That’s OK. The moment it hurts, it’s already like, in the upper spheres. Because it was so deep, they couldn’t get it out. But when you are filled with joy – you have given them a little life, then they can bear it.
Guarding your children
Then Rebbe Nachman says, the greatest way of guarding your children, so that they should always be alive, they should always be happy, they should always be well, is if parents are always happy. What they really need is for their parents to be filled with joy. And the joy of the parents is like a little wall around the babies.
I don’t need anything else
One more thing. What is really called joy? How much joy do you need in order to say, “I am happy?” When I meet a girl I love the most, I don’t have to say, “OK, what shall we do?” as if meeting was not enough, there has to be a little added attraction, a little movie, an little dancing. I am completely filled, I’m completely elated, that’s it. Maybe we’ll go to the movie also, but who cares?
So Rebbe Nachman says that joy is that this moment fills me so much that I don’t need anything else in the world, I don’t need anything else.
And he says, you know what it means to do a mitzvah, to do a good deed, to do someone a favor? That doing somebody a favor fills your heart so much that you could live on this joy.
Sometimes someone asks you to do a favor, and it’s so heavy for you to do it. Because it was not done with joy. But imagine if you do it with so much joy that just this one deed could keep you going forever. You know how much life there is in that favor? How much holiness?
Then he says that you need a lot of chutzpah, you need a lot of audacity, to make it in this lifetime. And you don’t have this audacity unless you are filled with joy.