True faith in G-d can bring joy and happiness even in the face of hardship. * By believing in G-d’s goodness, even what seems to be evil can become good on a revealed level.
Have you ever wondered how some people are able to maintain their faith and joy even in the face of hardship and suffering?
The Tanya lesson for 7 Elul provides a powerful insight into this question: “A person ought to be happy and joyous at every time and hour, and truly live by his faith in G-d, Who animates him and acts kindly toward him at every moment.” But “he who is grieved and laments demonstrates that he is undergoing some hardship and suffering, and lacks some goodness; he is (heaven forfend) like a heretic, who denies G-d’s omnipresence.”
This teaching may seem surprising or even off-putting. How can one be expected to maintain joy and happiness even in the face of suffering? The answer lies in the power of true faith.
The Tanya explains that “the truly faithful, however, is not perturbed by any suffering whatsoever, and with respect to all mundane matters, ‘yes’ and ‘no’ are all the same to him, in true equality.” This is because “he believes that everything, even what seems to be evil, receives its entire vitality from the supreme good - from G-d’s chochmah, which is not apprehensible. When one believes this truly, everything becomes good, even on a revealed level.”
We can learn how this is actually within our reach by learning from the story of Reb Zusha of Anipoli: Reb Zusha was not merely a humble man but a living embodiment of the joyous faith described in the Tanya. Despite living in extreme poverty and often facing dire circumstances, Reb Zusha maintained a remarkable sense of contentment and joy.
His small house in Anipoli was barely furnished, with crumbling walls and scant provisions. The floor was uneven, and the roof leaked. His clothes were tattered, and his family often went without a proper meal. Yet, visitors to Reb Zusha's home were immediately struck by a sense of warmth and serenity that permeated the environment.
One winter, a fellow scholar came to visit Reb Zusha. Upon arriving at his home, he was taken aback by the dismal conditions. The cold wind whistled through the gaps in the walls, and a single candle flickered in the dim room. The visitor couldn't help but express his concern, "Reb Zusha, how can you live like this? Aren't you miserable?"
Reb Zusha looked around his humble abode, his eyes sparkling with genuine joy, and replied, "Why should I be miserable? I have G-d in my life, and He provides me with everything I need. These material things are not essential for happiness."
His visitor was still puzzled and pressed on, "But Reb Zusha, don't you desire more comfort, better food, a warmer home?"
Reb Zusha's response was simple and profound, "Desires for physical comfort can lead us astray. My joy comes from my faith in G-d and my love for Torah. That's all the warmth and nourishment I need."
His words were not mere platitudes; Reb Zusha lived them every day. He would rise early to pray with fervor, his voice filled with gratitude and joy. He spent his days immersed in Torah study, often forgetting to eat, so engrossed was he in the divine wisdom.
Neighbors would often hear Reb Zusha singing melodies of praise to G-d, his voice resonating through the thin walls of his house. Even in his moments of solitude, his connection to the divine was palpable, a living testament to his unwavering faith.
Reb Zusha's life was a shining example of the teachings from the Tanya, illustrating the power of joyous faith and the importance of living with complete trust in G-d. His story reminds us that true happiness is not dependent on material possessions but on a profound connection with the Creator.
In conclusion, the enduring wisdom of the Tanya teaches us that true faith in G-d can bring joy and happiness even in the face of hardship. By believing that everything is ultimately for our good, we can maintain our faith and trust in G-d no matter what challenges we may face, and thereby transforming challenges into openly apparent goodness.