Having Fun

By: Rabbi Yisrael Baron

(Published May 7, 2012 Sunny Isles Beach Community Newspapers)

“You Chabadniks have so much fun,” said Miri, our Shabbat guest last Friday night. At first glance, I thought this was your typical, “the grass is greener” attitude. Miri lives in Boro Park and enjoys an Orthodox Jewish lifestyle, as well as a nice standard of living. Yet, she doesn’t see herself as having fun, in the way she perceives Chabadniks as having fun. My first reaction was to tell her what Dennis Prager, a noted talk show host, says on this topic. Prager says that all Chabad Rabbis have in their contract that they must be happy, or else they’ll be sent back to Brooklyn. The proof he offers for this is that he has never seen a Chabadnik who is not happy!


After reflecting on this point that our Shabbat guest has made, I came to the realization that, yes, we Chabadniks really are happier! The reason for this is simply because we are not so pre-occupied with self- awareness and self-consciousness. Why? Because we are too busy serving others, too busy being a part of something greater than ourselves.


When I was a young student in Yeshiva, I noticed that there was an elderly, frail-looking Rabbi who would sit and learn with a young, simple man. I remember thinking to myself, how happy this old Rabbi appeared while he was busy teaching this young man. It seemed to me that he would be an old miserable man if he was self-absorbed, only thinking about his personal issues. The key to his happiness was his ability to go out of himself and give to others.


Self-consciousness can be painful at times since we become aware of our insignificance. To avoid that pain, the vast majority of people are constantly in pursuit of some form of diversion. They want to get lost in the moment through distracting, pleasurable experiences, such as entertainment, sports competition, and the like. The trouble is that once the experience is over, you are back to being in your own skin.


The solution to this dilemma is to become part of something greater than yourself by serving others. By contributing to another’s happiness, you can create for yourself a deeper, truer happiness. And then you’ll fit right in that category of Chabadniks that Dennis Prager talks about, having happiness “in your contract!”