A psalm for thanksgiving …. Serve Adonai with happiness. (100:1-2)
Job said, “Adonai gives and Adonai takes away. May the name of Adonai be a source of blessing.” The Christian mystic Meister Eckhart elaborated, “It is permissible to take life’s blessings with both hands, provided thou dost know thyself prepared in the opposite event to take them just as gladly. This applies to food and friends and kindred, to anything God gives and takes away.”
Joy should not be dependent on receiving a particular thing. Anything we receive can be taken away. If we are happy just because we have a new device, are sitting down to a gourmet meal, or are in the company of a good friend, then when our device becomes old, our meal has been consumed, or our friend goes home, our happy feelings will evaporate.
We have an obligation to God and to all who spend time with us, especially our family, to do whatever we need to do to express our lives with a spirit of gratitude and happiness. Pirke Avot (1:15) expresses the simple act of greeting loved ones with a smile as a moral imperative: “Greet every person with a cheerful face!”
When we greet the day with positive energy, we are giving God an offering of happiness. The converse is expressed in the Star Wars Jedi philosophy by ‘Master Yoda:’ “Anger, fear, aggression; the Dark Side of the Force are they.” In organizational life or interpersonal relationships, negativity and despair sap energy. When we live an unhappy or fearful life, we take something away from God.
We can best serve God by striving to live a positive, cheerful life. As Reb Nahman said, “It is a great Mitzvah to be in a constant state of happiness.”