My Hair Stylist’s View on Kids, Technology and Shabbat

This week I went to my hair stylist*, Erez, for a quick haircut around lunch time.

I’ve been a loyal customer since moving to Modi’in, Israel ten years ago. He does a nice job cutting my hair (sadly, there is less hair to work with as time passes) and I enjoy talking to him. After quickly catching up, we started chatting about whether Israel will ever extend its weekend and officially make Sunday a day off.

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Does Writing a Blog Make You Happier?

Will writing this blog make me happier? Or will I become sucked into the social media vortex?

My intention for starting Seeking Simcha is to chart my exploration of Jewish happiness. But obviously that’s something I can do offline. By putting the blog posts online and sharing them via social media, I am hoping to help others. Although this is still very much a brand new effort, I’m not succeeding so far. This blog has one follower, none of my six blog posts have received even a single comment and I have a whopping 23 Twitter followers.

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Keith Berman’s (z’l) Passing

In the Land of Israel, it is possible to draw the joy of holiness from the site of joy itself. – Rabbi Avraham Yitzhak Kook, the first Chief Rabbi of Israel

Normally you wouldn’t expect a blog about simcha (Jewish joy) to focus on a recent passing. But the death of Keith Berman (z’l), whom I had the pleasure of working for when he was the director of the Young Judaea/FZY Year Course in Israel, is relevant to this blog because I saw firsthand how much joy he brought into the world.

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A Happiness Visualization for the Mikveh

After deciding to start my current search for simcha (Jewish joy) on Hoshana Rabbah, one of the first things I did that morning was immerse myself in one of the local mikvehs. Hoshana Rabbah is the day when the judgment process that has started on Rosh HaShana is sealed, and I wanted to feel spiritually pure.

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Are You Happy on a Rainy Day?

Rainy days are annoying, right? Who wants to get soaked when going outside or risk driving a car in the lowered visibility of a rainstorm?

Many people view rain as a negative phenomenon, but for our sages, it wasn’t enough to merely appreciate rain. They taught us to actively pray for it. Starting on Thursday evening, the 7th of Cheshvan, Jews in Israel will begin saying, “Grant dew and rain as a blessing” (ותן טל ומטר לברכה) in their daily prayers (Jews in the Diaspora begin saying it on December 4).

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5 Reasons Why Shabbat = Simcha (Happiness)

The Shabbos Project (@ShabbosProject_) is a wonderful idea that is sure to increase simcha (happiness) worldwide.  This weekend (the first day of the new month of Cheshvan/October 24-25) Jews in more than 212 cities and 33 countries will experience the joy of observing and celebrating Shabbat (or “Shabbos”). As a Jew who keeps Shabbat on a weekly basis with his family, I’ll try to explain why Shabbat never fails to put a smile on my face.

So, why does Shabbat = simcha?

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For Happiness, Empty One Pocket

Rabbi Simcha Bunim, may the memory of  the righteous be for a blessing, had a famous oral teaching:

Everyone must have two pockets, with a note in each pocket, so that he or she can reach into the one or the other, depending on the need. When feeling lowly and depressed, discouraged or disconsolate, one should reach into the right pocket, and, there, find the words: “For my sake was the world created.”

But when feeling high and mighty one should reach into the left pocket, and find the words: “I am but dust and ashes.”*

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Starting State (Sad)

I am starting this blog in October 2014 in a state of sadness.

There are so many blessings in my life and don’t get me wrong, I experience many moments of great happiness. And yet I’m all too often unhappy. I have been binge eating in secret to dull my feelings, although I’m not sure how much of a secret it is, because I’m overweight and out of shape (I’m on blood pressure medication at the age of 38).

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One simple Jew's journey to Jewish joy (simcha) via ancient and modern techniques.