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The Difference Between Pleasure And Joy
by Rabbi Shlomo Ezagui
There is a Chassidic saying, “Joy breaks all boundaries”.

The Talmud relates, once a great sage in the marketplace encountered Elijah the prophet and asked him, “Is there anyone who has assured his place in the world to come?” Elijah answered to the negative. In the interim, two brothers entered the marketplace and Elijah pointed to them saying, “They merit the world to come.” The Rabbi walked over to them and asked, “May I ask, what do you do?” They answered, “We are joyful people, and we make those who are sad happy. If we hear about an argument, we make peace using humor between those quarreling.”

What does it mean to be truly joyous and happy? Where can we purchase this?

First, let us make a clear distinction between pleasure and genuine joy.

Pleasure is temporary. Pleasure is fleeting and superficial and usually comes with a steep personal price at the end. The real long lasting deep happiness and joy, is an experience and a state of being where shallow and artificial experiences are of little value.  It almost doesn't matter the outer trappings, when true joy is reached.

Occasionally, a ramp that can connect one with inner joy, or can draw out and enhance true happiness is when we are enjoying ourselves on the exterior superficially. One of the methods the prophets used was song. Song and more precisely melody, has the power to open up a person to the unlimited vibrations of one’s soul.  However, this experience must be one that is connected to something being developed inside, deeper than just doing it to “feel” good.

The world, i.e. materialism and consumerism for the most part can only offer the temporary sort of pleasure and happiness. More stuff does NOT equal more happiness. By its very nature, the property of physical existence is fleeting. It has a time when it (or its style) came into existence, and it has a time when it ceases to exist. Life attached to and defined by materialism will “always” be bouncing from one “thing” to the next. Hydroplaning on the surface, with small or sometimes large drops and empty holes in between.  Spirituality, religion and deep values are the enemies of consumerism. That is why the materialistic world fights so vigorously against religion.

Where’s the real joy?  The inner deep feeling of being full?

King David in his book of Psalms tells us, “Strength and joy are, in the place of G-d  ...The joy of G-d, is your strength...Strength and joy, are in His place.”  Solid and real inner strength, genuine long-lasting, deep-reaching joy is in G-d and with G-d. This means, strengthening our faith and awareness in spirituality, the G-dliness and therefore absolute goodliness in our lives and in the world. Living a G-dly lifestyle, and making it the way we think, feel and act.

King David had it all. He was a wealthy individual with lots of power at his discretion. Yet, he also had loads of challenges. Family, close confidants and neighbors continuously confronted, defied and challenged him in every single respect

A man who had it all teaches us, “Don’t put your trust in princes in the son of man.” “Blessed is the person who puts his faith in G-d and G-d is his stronghold.” Everything G-d does, since He is perfect is always for the good.

Inner strength, one that lasts under all circumstances and is never extinguished,  true joy, comes to a person who lives a life connected and influenced by the spark of G-d within, the soul. Only by living a soul-driven life can a person be truly and deeply, joyous and happy.


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