pirkei avot 2:4 - Where Happiness can be Found

This post is dedicated in memory of Etya Sarah bat Yitzchak ha-Levi. May it be an aliyah                                                              for her neshama.
Elisheva Maline

He [Rabban Gamliel] used to say, "Do His [G-d's] will as you would your own so that He will make your will like His; negate your will before His so that He will negate the will of others before yours."

The above phrase leaves room for the reader to wonder if Rabban Gamliel's quote is another reiteration for, "I'll do what you want. Now, You do what I want." It cannot be because that would force our Jewish leader from post second temple times into a form of childlike speech. What was the real message behind the motto that was recorded? 

Once in a while, the question, "What does humanity long for?" begs answering. Happiness: people want to be happy. The psychology industry has been in season for the past fifty years for just that reason. However, while some may define serenity as the revealing of one's latent potential, others might insist that happiness is a direct result of the pleasures experienced in this world. Neither statement is necessarily in conflict with the other. The crux of the matter is that when one makes his will a reflection of G-d's, both forms of happiness are fulfilled. Intense pleasure can be found where one experiences his spiritual, intellectual or emotional growth spurts.

G-d created mankind with the ability to choose between good and evil. Mankind's purpose lies in the ability to unify with a singular vision of harmony in their goals and ideals. It is important to note that the definitions for the words "good," "evil," "true," false," "right," and "wrong" are distinguished in the pages of our holy Torah. G-d desires for us to make this world a reflection of the upper realms. For now, this is the job of the Jews. Eventually, all the other races will choose to join up in the project as well. How does the Jewish nation take materialism and bring it to a state of transcendence? We clean and cook for shabbos (the Sabbath). We work to make ends meet and set aside ten percent for the poor. When one reflect G-d's will, one is ever closer to completing his search for purpose and meaning. This is the basis for pure, unadulterated joy in this world. In the path of the just it says, "Man was created for the sole purpose of rejoicing in God and deriving pleasure from the splendor of His Presence; this is true joy and the greatest pleasure that can be found.

A selfish alternative to the above statement presents itself in The Picture of Dorian Gray. One of the protagonists turns to his friend and quips, "The only way to rid oneself of a temptation is yielding to it." In context to Rabban Gamliel's quote, the word temptation may serve as a segue to willpower. In Oscar Wilde's novel, the characters are encouraged to use temptation as an excuse for pursuing forbidden pleasures that are detrimental to their physical and spiritual health. Moreover, the quote is false. Yielding to one's inner desires does not aid in banishing temptation from one's heart but since that's a boring preachy thing to say, Oscar Wilde flips reality on its ear. That being said, the bottom line is that the more one gives way to the cajoling of his baser urges the further enslaved he is to the dark side. For this reason, among others, Oscar Wilde met a sticky end. At thirty-seven, he fell in love with a person fifteen years his junior, he was convicted and imprisoned for obscenity and died alone in a Parisian hotel room. All this was a result of his lacking an appreciation that human beings are prone to consuming themselves over spiritually, physically, and mentally deficient infatuations.

Rabban Gamliel turned to his generation and cried out, "Don't fall into disunity; do not seek to fulfill only your needs and desires." "Make His [G-d's] will your will etc." Don't squash down your desires; channel them and G-d will make your will for happiness a done deal.

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