MembersHappiness, It Is and Isn’t What You Think

A biblical examination of what it truly means to be happy and how to achieve happiness in our lives

| Topics: Jewish Wisdom for the Everyday Man
Happiness is and isn't what you might think
Photo: Miriam Alster/Flash90

Happy yet? The very question raises the riddle that while we’re all looking for it, and doing plenty to get it, happiness remains aloof, like a goal post that keeps moving back whenever we reach the line.

That could be why we have no word for it in Hebrew. But no surprise here, we don’t have a word for “fun” either, we just borrowed “kef” from our Arab cousins. Truth be told there’s no Hebrew word for “have a good time” either, so we made up, “ta’asai chaim,” which can’t be translated except to say, “make life,” which is intended to mean, “have the most fun you can doing whatever it is you’re doing.”

Don’t get me wrong, it’s not that Jews don’t know how to celebrate, have fun and be happy (whatever that is). It’s just that we have a different understanding (and maybe fewer reasons?) than most.

In modern Hebrew we call it “simcha,” and in the Bible...

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