a teaching from the Holy Ari z"l sent by Reb Sholom Brodt.
Towards the end of the tochacha (section of admonition), Moshe Rabbainu says, "Since you did not serve Hashem your G*d, with joy and good heartedness, when you were affluent-- You will serve your enemies, whom Hashem sends against you, in hunger and in thirst... " (Parsha Ki Tavo. Deut. 28:47-48)
The opening word of this verse, in Hebrew is 'tachat' and is usually translated as "instead of". This word may also be translated as 'because'. So the Ari explains; how does it happen that a people who had attained such great spiritual heights and stood at Mt. Sinai, and actually heard Hashem's voice, could fall to such a low place to incur the wrath and curses found in this parsha? How could this be?
It all begins as a result of not serving Hashem with joy. Even if you are doing all the mitzvot correctly, but if they are being done without joy, then the 'yetzer harah' (the evil inclination) finds an opening, a crevice in which to latch on, and get a grip on you. If a Jew is doing a mitzvah with a heart filled with joy, there is no room, there is no place for the yetzer-hara to enter; there is no way for the 'yetzer harah' to knock you down.
But how is it possible to 'be commanded' to 'be joyful'? Rebbe Nachman says that being joyous is really our natural state; you only have to take a look the children to see how true this is.
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Additional teaching on TACHAT.
I love the word as part of El Moley Rachamim: "Tachat Kanfei haShechinah"/ UNDER the wings of Shechinah. I have these words engraved on the license frame of my auto's personalized plate. As I drive in JOY to my goals, I am flying on the wings of Shechina.
The accepted translation is "an eye for an eye." A more literal, though not very helpful translation, would be "an eye under an eye." The word tachat literally means "under," but the sentence lacks any decisive meaning when translated this way. This same word appears several times in the Torah in other contexts:
And Adam was once again intimate with his wife and she had a son. And he called his name Shet, 'for God has provided me with other offspring tachat Hevel - in place of Hevel - for he was killed by Kayin. (Bereishit 4:25)
Though the word tachat could be translated literally as "under" or "for," neither of these translations works well in this context. Rather "in place of," "instead of," or "as a replacement for" is clearly the best definition.
Similarly, when Avraham was commanded to bring his son Yitzchak as an offering, at the last minute the heavens opened and an angel called out, bidding him to stop. The text continues:
Avraham lifted his eyes, and behold a ram was entangled in the brush by the horns, and Avraham went and took the ram, and offered it as an offering tachat b'no - in place of his son. (Bereishit 22:13)
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A Chabad link on PERPETUAL JOY from the Baal Shem Tov
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Serve G*d With Joy
Every Tu B'Shvat I plant trees or flowers. On my daughter Aviva's birthday during Sukkot, when she was two years, I planted two citrus trees in her honor. People and animals truly appreciate the fruit from my trees. There was a child's swing set for Aviva between the trees, but as they matured, the swings were dismantled and trees planted, now over thirty years ago.
Friends and I "Serve G*d In Joy" as we plant and in 'covenant', co-partner / shutafim with The Holy One, continuing creation of the world and bringing beauty and health to the universe as well as chesed / loving-kindness. G*d has made us in the image of / b'tzelem Elokim, G*d's image in the world.
SERVE G*D WITH JOY workshop can be BOOKED at: joyofwisdom1 at gmail.com
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Enjoy photos of BEING IN JOY
My friend Edith and her Persimmons
© Joy Krauthammer