On Motza’ei Shabbos, January 18, a large crowd gathered at Ohr Natan for an uplifting lecture on happiness. The shiur was hosted by Chazaq and Ohr Natan and can be viewed on TorahAnytime.com. Rabbi Goldwasser began by stating how this is his favorite topic. He shared that the same Hebrew letters in simchah are in machashavah, because happiness is dependent on thought. To be happy, you have to think of the brachos you have. He imparted, “Happiness is appreciating how we came together tonight in this beautiful shul to learn, to listen, and to interact.” Rabbi Goldwasser taught that when I person realizes the brachos he has, it’s altogether different.
He shared an analogy. If someone just learned of the invention of an umbrella and took it with him but didn’t know how to use it, so he carried it closed and got soaked in the rain, he would complain that it didn’t work. Of course, he needs to know how to use it so he won’t get soaked. “Hashem gave simchah in this life. We all have great happiness, but we need to know how to unleash it. We are explosive potentials of simchah.”
He shared how some people have nice homes, children, everything, yet they are not happy. This is because they can’t understand or appreciate the greatness of the brachah that Hashem gave them.
A kohen cannot do the avodah in the Beis HaMikdash if he is under the influence. This is because we are not supposed to have our happiness from anything artificial. Happiness has to come from Torah and mitzvos. Rabbi Goldwasser imparted that “when you do mitzvos, you will always be guarded.” The happiest thing is Torah and mitzvos, and nothing else can come up to that level of simchah shel mitzvah.
The Talmud teaches that wine can make a person very holy or the opposite. We use wine for Kiddush and Havdalah. We raise a cup at a simchah and say “L’Chayim!”
He shared a moving story about an older man whom he met in Poland. The man was enthralled watching everyone putting on t’filin. Rabbi Goldwasser asked the man if he would like to put on t’filin. The man felt he wasn’t fitting to do so. Rabbi Goldwasser convinced him that he should do it. He hadn’t put on t’filin since his bar mitzvah. He described how the man stood with his t’filin, praying the entire day until it was almost dark. He cried and grabbed Rabbi Goldwasser’s arm. “These are tears of happiness, that I merited to put on t’filin again,” he said. Rabbi Goldwasser pointed out, “You can’t buy that type of happiness.”
He taught that when we see positive, then all kinds of things can be good. When we wake up in the morning, we have to say Modeh Ani with true feeling. We have to appreciate all our senses.
He shared how he helped someone who was very downhearted. He told him to recite T’hilim 100, which says to serve Hashem with joy. He also told him to get a laughing box. Laughter is contagious. Rav Simchah of Bunim taught how laughter can actually save a person’s life.
“The Tree of Life was located in the middle of the Garden of Eden to teach us that each of us has an equal chance to get happiness; no one is closer or farther.”
Rabbi Goldwasser ended with a beautiful brachah to the audience for simchah in every area of life.