In Tinyana 24 the Rebbe lit up the world with the famous words that we can’t live without:
“מצוה גדולה להיות בשמחה תמיד”
“It’s a great mitzvah to be constantly happy.”
I’ve heard some people question this teaching as follows: Is it really a mitzvah to be happy? Maybe what Rebbe Nachman meant was שמחה גדולה להיות במצוה תמיד; it’s a great joy to constantly be performing mitzvos. But what’s the big mitzvah of being happy?
In the same lesson the Rebbe teaches that ‘everyone is full of suffering’. It’s not easy to be happy, let alone ‘constantly’ happy. But he says we need to arouse this inner joy ‘with all of our might’. We should even do silly things to arouse it, if that’s what it takes.
Hashem knows how difficult it is to push ourselves to be happy. He’s well aware of how much we need to overcome to put a smile on our face. But when we do, Hashem sees it as the greatest possible thing we can do for Him. The word מצוה comes from the root-word צֶוֶת, which means crew or staff. We unite with Hashem, like a team, when we perform mitzvos. Ask any boss and he’ll tell you, there’s no better staff than a happy staff. They’re united with their leader. They’re ready and willing to go out of their way for the team. When we’re happy, we open ourselves to the entire world. Happiness is boundless and expansive. It frees our hearts from worry, so we can materialize the many opportunities that are presented us. I’m not sure if it’s one of the 613 mitzvos to be happy, but it’s certainly the greatest tool to performing mitzvos. Nothing stands in the way of the happy person. The entire world is the happy man’s playing field.
We all know how hard it is. We know how easily we feel down and how it feels like too much for us to stimulate our own happiness. We need to pray hard and often to be happy. It’s ok to pray for that, it’s even recommended. We have to try as hard as we can with any possible (permissible) method to spark those smiles. Whether it’s by dancing, singing, creative outlets, joking around or shmoozing. Whatever it takes, do it! It’s the key to success, the prerequisite to healthy living and the essential drive of mitzvah performance.
מצוה גדולה להיות בשמחה תמיד = שלום מרדכי רובאשקין יוצא בח׳ בחג