Ben Zoma says...Eizehu ashir?  Hasomeach b’chelko.  Who is wise?  One who is someach with his portion.  (Avos 4:1)

Someach.  What does that mean?

Someach is often translated as joyful.  How often can we joyfully celebrate our portion? 

Rav Nachman of Breslov famously taught that it is a great mitzvah to be in a state of simcha always!  Does he mean that we should always be joyful?   Maybe not.

Simcha, says the Vilna Gaon, is not joyfulness.  Rather, it is the experience of internal happiness, as in Yismach lev m’vakshei Hashem, those who seek Hashem have simcha in their hearts.  (Siach Yitzchak on Siddur HaGra, page 93 in Ishei Yisrael edition)

A person is not called wealthy because he has a lot of money…[rather,] one who is sameach b’chelko, one who is asheer b’daas, wealthy in his mindset.  (Derech Chaim, ibid.)

The first half of Rav Nachman’s thought is well known: Mitzvah Gedolah Lihyos B'simcha Tamid, it is a great mitzvah to always be in a state of happiness.

The second half is worthy of note: and strengthen himself to push away anguish and bitterness of spirit with all his might.  (Likutei Moharan, Part II 24:1:1)

What anguish, what bitterness?

The anguish and bitterness of not having something that someone else has.

V’chal yetzer machshevos libo rak ra kol-hayom, all of the desires of his heart are evil all of the day.

What causes that?  The failure to be someach, content, with his portion, the desire to have what someone else has.

The term ra, evil, refers to harm caused by one person to another.  This pasuk testifies that a person loses so much of his daas enoshi, his human intelligence, to the point that all of his thoughts are focused on how to harm others...this tiyvah, intense desire, destroys his thinking. (Haamek Davar on Breishis 6:5)

The loss of daas enoshi erases the wealth of contentment, asheer b’daas, that comes from being someach b’chelko.

The Torah tells us that Yom Tov is a time of simcha.  Each Yom Tov shows us that simcha comes from histapkus, from realizing that we are wealthy with what we have by showing us that we are fine with less.  On Pesach, we do without chometz.  On Succos we’re fine with a simple dwelling place.  On Shavuos we are required to accomplish chatzi l’Hashem v’chatzi lachem.  This shows us that Torah values, not external cultural norms, are the source of what we truly need in our material lives.

Rav Nachman says we are to have simcha always, not only on Yom Tov.  This is what we doven for on Yom Tov; to take the simcha with us.

In the Yom Tov amidah we say, V’hasi-ainu Hashem Elokainu es birkas mo-adecha l’chaim ul’shalom, l’simcha ul’sason.  According to Avudraham, this means, to carry with us these gifts, the brachos of Yom Tov: chaim, shalom, simcha, and sason.  (page 213, Usha Publications, Yerushalayim, 5723)

Here are some thoughts on how that is done.

Content vs happy?

It’s taken me many years to be able to say I’m genuinely ‘happy’. And by happy, what I mean is a state of being — an embodiment of your inner world and how you feel towards yourself. Happiness is a state that exists on a continuum, flowing and fluctuating as you move through life.

Genuine happiness feels more like calm contentment. It’s a state of peace where you don’t yearn for something else. It doesn’t involve dissatisfaction with where you are or who you are.

Surprise #1: Happiness Grows the More You Deal With Yourself

The biggest impediments to genuine contentment are those niggling issues like insecurity, fear, trauma, resentment, guilt, jealousy, anger, and the list goes on. These are the states that lead to dissatisfaction and pain. They color your view on the world and they make you behave in dysfunctional ways.

Facing these issues head on no matter how difficult is necessary. Each time you resolve them (whether it’s through therapy or self-reflection), it removes the barriers towards a stronger, happier you.

Surprise #2: Happiness Emerges With Less Distractions

The more content I became inside, the less I needed distractions to keep me going.

I am not dismissing friends, hobbies, or social events as I think these are a healthy and joyous part of life.

But what I’ve come to see is that true happiness derives from within. The less you depend on external things and the more you depend on yourself, the more content you are.

Surprise #3: Happiness is a Direct Reflection of How You Feel About Yourself

Another surprising thing I learned about happiness is that it was a direct reflection of how I felt about myself. If I didn’t like myself, I didn’t feel good. Even during those times when I experienced moments of joy and excitement, beneath it all was a deeper sense of dissatisfaction with who I was. Underneath, I was scared and nervous of the world and didn’t think I could cope.

Reaching a state of happiness requires being happy with who you are. Depending on where you are on this scale, learning to love yourself takes conscious, inner work. Rather than beat yourself up, learn to encourage. Rather than turn your nose at your reflection in the mirror, learn to love what you see. Rather than compare yourself to others, learn to celebrate your strengths.

(From: 3 Surprising Ways I Learned To Be Genuinely ‘Happy,’  Jenn Tomomitsu, PhD,

The song If You’re Happy and You Know It suggests a number of ways to show that you’re happy.  I would add one more.

If you’re happy and you know it, thank Hashem.

One more thought:

Eizehu asheer? Kal sh’yesh lo nachas ruach b’ashro, divrei Rabbi Meir.  Who is wealthy?  One who has nachas of spirit from his wealth.  These are the words of Rabbi Meir.  (Shabbos 25b)  

Notice the nachas and you’ll feel wealthy.


Rabbi Yitzchak Shmuel Ackerman is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor with specialties in marriage, dating, and parenting.

He is the author of Confident Parents, Competent Children, in Four Seconds at a Time  Available at bookstores and on Amazon.

He can be reached at 718-344-6575.