Divar Torah Be’haloa’cha
Life Lesson: Happiness
When the Jewish people were in Egypt, Hashem fed them manna from heaven. Not only was this food available on a consistent basis, but the Torah tells us that it even had the taste of anything the Jews imagined it to taste like.
After the Jews were taken out of Egypt, they complained and said:
“Who will feed us meat? We remember the fish that we ate in Egypt … but now … we have nothing … but the manna… And the wrath of God flared greatly….” (Numbers 11:4-10)
B’nai Yisrael were complaining that they’d rather be slaves in Egypt! If the manna tasted like anything they imagined, how could they complain about it? Unfortunately, the sad reality is that even today, in the 21st century we do the same thing and don’t even realize it.
More often than not, people look for reasons to complain. Taking ‘the cup is half empty’ approach, it is very easy to find things to criticize. Once we find it, we lose sight of the positive because we have become immersed in the negative. Let’s say you have a fresh white shirt that just came out of the laundry. You put it on with a happy feeling that it’s clean. Then you make a cup a coffee and as you begin drinking, you spill it on your shirt. It is human nature to automatically turn to the stain and begin attempting to remove it. We will often get frustrated and as a consequence, change the shirt? Why are we not drawn to the majority of the shirt that still remains white? Our eyes go to the stain because it stands out, and if we are looking, we will always find the flaw in the situation
Despite common belief, complaining has less to do with a situation and more to do with attitude. If our attitude is negative, we will complain about the food that Hashem sent us personally. It’s human nature for people to be looking for a lack. And it is a sad reality that this prevents us from acknowledging the Bracha that Hashem is constantly giving us.
Back in October my teacher gave our class an assignment and requested that we keep up with throughout the year. She called it the WWW which stand for ‘what went well’. Everyday you must think of at least three good things that happened to you, or ways you saw Hashem in your life. Even with all the seemingly bad things that happened on any given day, the purpose was to make you more aware of the good that occurred as well. We just had to open our eyes to see it. When someone makes a conscious decision to focus on the positive, then their mind will automatically drift away from negative thoughts.
Lets say you come home from school on Friday and you clean the whole house for your mother. You set the table and change all the sheets perfectly. She comes home from work and she is so happy and so thankful for all the hard work you have put in. Then as you sit down for the meal your mother yells at you that you forgot to put the salt on the table. How bad would that make you feel? You did so much and yet she chose to pick on the small thing you forgot. Would you be interested in cleaning the house for her again next week? If she truly appreciated everything you did for her and you felt that appreciation you would be more willing to do it next week.
B’nai Yisrael were given so much from Hashem, and still chose to focus on what they didn’t have. Because they chose such a negative route, Hashem knew that there was no way He could ever make them content. There’s no amount of Bracha that could ever make someone happy if he chooses to not think about them. Everything God gave the Jews made them happy until their perspective changed.
This is the lesson for us. A life of clarity and happiness is only possible if we do our WWW everyday and we look around at all the Bracha Hashem gives us in our everyday life. When we have no appreciation for what we are given then we are simply creating the attitude for ourselves that we will be unhappy. Let’s make an effort to focus on all the white instead of the little coffee stain. I woke this morning with the attitude that today I am going to have simchas ha’chaim for life.
Student studying in Tomer Devorah