This week’s Torah portion, Parshat Re’eh, contains an interesting passage that sheds light on Jewish happiness (#simcha) and explains four types of people who it is extremely important to make happy.
Grant Cardone outlined key tenets of his life philosophy recently in Medium:
Most people work 9 to 5. I work 95 hours (per week). If you ever want to be a millionaire, you need to stop doing the 9 to 5 and start doing 95.
Is this a short-term philosophy Cardone is advocating until one strikes it rich, at which point s/he could resume a normal life? No.
If you gave me 5 billion dollars, I’d still be grinding tomorrow. Be on the field. That’s where you get the win. I want that.
The strange part is that in the same piece, Cardone claims he’s not only about making massive amounts of money:
I’m not just about being rich, I’m about being wealthy. Rich means you have money — wealth is affluence in every area: health, family, kids, wife.
I definitely don’t understand that last statement. Working 95 hours per week means working 13-14 hour days, seven days a week. Where would one find the time for building real and meaningful relationships with “family, kids, wife”?
To be fair, Cardone’s piece is focused on becoming rich, not about how to be happy. I don’t know him personally and I don’t know much about him. I have no problem with people who work hard or amass large sums of money. My issue is only with the extreme philosophy espoused in the article, which is at odds with traditional Jewish thought/philosophy.
As opposed to striving for a lifestyle marked by conscious consumption and gratitude, Cardone advocates the constant chasing of wealth – he admits that even five billion dollars wouldn’t satisfy his cravings! We shouldn’t be surprised. The Talmud explained man’s basic nature a long time ago:
“Whoever possesses 100 desires 200. Whoever possesses 200 desires 400.” (Ecclesiastes Rabbah ). (“Ecclesiastes” is translated as “Kohelet” in Hebrew).
Except for the brief line I quoted about “family, kids, wife,” Cardone didn’t write anything in his piece about making a meaningful contribution to society, maintaining deep connections with friends and family (which seems impossible with the schedule he recommends), or establishing a calming spiritual life.
Judaism recommends a dramatically different path. In the Ethics of the Fathers (Pirkei Avot) we learn:
Who is rich? One who is happy with his lot/portion. (Pirkei Avot 4:1).
The brilliant Rabbi Jonathan Sacks uses the Book of Kohelet to explain that chasing wealth is folly and true happiness comes from things like love, appreciation and spiritual connection:
Kohelet suddenly realises that all the time he was pursuing wealth and possessions, he was chasing after substitutes for life, instead of celebrating life itself. He now knows that “Whoever loves money never has money enough”. He also knows that “there is nothing better for people than to be happy and do good while they live”. Like Bill Gates and Warren Buffett, he knows that the best thing to do with wealth is to give it away.
Following Cordone’s recommendations might make you very wealthy. They might not. But one thing is certain: they won’t make you happy.
The following four tech tools have given a big boost to my search for happiness. Hopefully some of them can also help you in 2016. Please note: I am not affiliated with these products and I’m not receiving any money or benefits to promote them.
Below are the best Hanukkah (Chanuka) blogs from Seeking Simcha. I hope these favorites brighten your holiday and inspire you!
Jews around the world recently finished reading the last Torah portion of the year. So what do we do now? Rest for a while? Find another book, maybe? Go fishing?
Don’t worry, I’m not recommending fist fights in your Sukkah (the temporary hut Jews inhabit during the festival of Sukkot). That would likely wreck the walls of your Kosher Sukkah!
I’m simply noting that one of the main themes of the Fight Club, a thought-provoking movie starring Brad Pitt and Edward Norton, is also a dominant theme of Sukkot. This theme has much to teach us about simcha (Jewish joy).
No days were as festive for Israel as Tu B’Av and Yom Kippur –Tractate Ta’anit.
What is the Mishna trying to tell us? We understand why Tu B’Av, a magical day of love, was considered a happy day. But Yom Kippur? Isn’t that supposed to be the day that we punish our bodies by fasting and reflect on the many awful things we did in the previous year? How does that promote simcha (Jewish joy)?
Because many Jews immerse in a mikveh (ritual bath) before Rosh HaShana, I am re-posting a previous blog post about a happiness visualization for the mikveh. Have a sweet and HAPPY New Year!
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.
Exactly fourteen years ago (according to the Jewish calendar), I asked Neetz if she wanted to officially be my girlfriend. She said “yes” and all these years later we have three kids, a wonderful home and countless funny stories.
Maybe part of our success has resulted from the fact that our romance began on Tu B’Av, a magical Jewish holiday of love and happiness.
My father isn’t particularly religiously observant. But this Father’s Day I am thinking about something he said over and over to my siblings and me during our childhood that has profoundly affected how I practice Judaism and live my life.