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
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,
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
Eli Touger, for helping transform the content from
a spoken form to a readable text;
Ira Jacobson and R.C. Schilder, who edited the
Yosef Yitzchok Turner for the layout and the typography;
Rabbi Yonah Avtzon, Director of Sichos In English,
whose assistance and encouragement at every phase made this project
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.”
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
The Rebbe has reiterated that our generation is
certainly the last generation of exile and the first generation
to experience Redemption. He publicized his prophecy that the coming
of Mashiach is imminent, and what we must do now — he said
— is to accept Mashiach. He declared that Mashiach is already
here and revealed, that he has already begun to activate massive
changes in the world (namely the process of reducing nuclear weapons
and moving towards world peace), and stated openly that “his
name is Menachem.” We therefore express our hope that we merit
immediately to see the Rebbe once again in a physical body and he
will lead us out of this exile and bring true unlimited joy to the
Jewish people and the entire world.
Crown Heights, N.Y.