This article was previously published in 2021.
In one of his letters to my father Rav Berg, Rav Brandwein speaks of joy. He writes that simcha, joy, is one of the most supernal gifts, a gift given from the Creator to us. In order to be able to receive this joy, it’s important to understand what a gift means; a gift is something we have not earned, something given to us. However, how many of us actually understand joy in this way? Most of us think something happens that makes us happy, and then that awakens joy. But that is not the case. While we may experience joy sometimes, it is not real joy; rather, it is almost always an effect of something happening in the physical world. And Rav Brandwein tells us we can work at achieving joy, but we should know, first and foremost, that it is a gift.
“Simcha, joy, is one of the most supernal gifts.”
Since joy is a gift from the Creator, nothing has to happen in order for us to receive it… as a matter of fact, even when bad things happen, joy can still be given as a gift in that situation. And that is what the month we are entering into, the month of Pisces, or Adar, is about. It begins with this consciousness that real joy is a gift. Awakening this gift of joy, and therefore preparing to receive it, begins with the understanding that since joy is a gift given from the Creator, it therefore can occur at any time and be given to anybody regardless of what is occurring physically; as Rav Brandwein writes to Rav Berg, “If you merit to receive the gift of joy, which is a supernal gift from the Creator, then you can be filled with happiness no matter what.”
So, the first thing we need to do as we enter this month of Pisces in order to prepare to receive the gift of joy is to shift how we see it. And then, how do we receive it? The Zohar, in section 93 in the portion of Tetzaveh, says, “The Supernal World, the spiritual realm, the energy and Light from Above comes to the individual only depending on what state he or she is in.” So, the Zohar is telling us that it is the state of the individual that dictates what type of Light he or she can receive. If the individual, therefore, is in a state where he or she is trying to push him or herself to awaken joy, then he is showered from above with the Light of joy. The secret the Zohar reveals here is that the reason why we have to try to awaken joy, if even just for a moment, is because what we are trying to do is not awaken our own joy, but rather, create an opening so that the supernal joy is showered down upon us from the Upper Worlds.
“We can draw an abundance of joy and happiness.”
In the month of Pisces, the kabbalists teach that we can draw an abundance of joy and happiness. In order to do so, we have to understand these two things. First, as Rav Brandwein tells Rav Berg, and us, joy is a gift from the Creator. We need to stop thinking, as most of us do, that joy is an effect of what occurs in the physical. And then second, as the Zohar teaches, if we are in the state of pushing ourselves to be in greater joy, even for a moment, then greater joy is what shines down to us from the Supernal World. All we need to do is just ignite a little bit of joy with this consciousness, even if it is just for 30 seconds.
The gates of joy and happiness are open for every single one of us as we enter into, and throughout, the month of Pisces. By shifting our consciousness to the understanding that joy is a gift from the Creator, and then by pushing ourselves to be in a state of joy, if only for a moment, we can open ourselves up to receive this incredible gift.