A Sukkos thought – true happiness

September 25, 2015 by Rabbi Michoel Gourarie
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This Sunday evening the festival of Sukkos begins. It is a time of joy and celebration. How do we achieve true happiness?…asks Rabbi Michoel Gourarie.

Rabbi Michoel Gourarie

Rabbi Michoel Gourarie

People often confuse pleasure with happiness. In a hedonistic culture the mistaken belief is that the more we have to enjoy and the more comfortable we are, the happier we will be. But pleasure and happiness are very different and sometimes mutually exclusive.

Sadness reflects an internal struggle. The unhappy person has unresolved issues and inner confusion that cause tension and conflict. Pleasure and gratification are external forces that cannot solve internal issues. The pleasure-seeking individual remains unhappy and continuously seeks more, mistakenly believing that at some point his/her needs will be met and the sadness will disappear.

To be really happy means to have a sense of purpose and achievement. Happiness comes with clarity of direction from within and the ability to give meaning to every situation and experience.

Sukkos teaches us happiness. On this Yom Tov we don’t celebrate by sitting in a fancy hall with crystal chandeliers and beautifully adorned tables. Instead we eat in a flimsy hut that can hardly last more than seven days. It is in this simple hut that we find true happiness.

Coming from Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur we have discovered a new focus. We have recommitted ourselves to a life of meaning and purpose. With this refreshed perspective on life and its mission we can truly celebrate even in a simple hut.


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