Gladness and Exultation
Rivka Olenick
"Serve the Lord with gladness, come before Him with exultation."
Psalms 100:2
What is the emphasis or repetition in "Serve the Lord" and "come before Him" which has the same meaning. The sentence also reads: "with gladness" and "with exultation" that also has the same meaning. The sentence could have been written as two separate statements: "Serve the Lord with gladness." Or: "Come before Him with exultation." What is being emphasized and repeated in the one sentence?
Unfortunately, many people believe there cannot be gladness or exultation when serving God or coming before Him. People mistakenly think that the involvement in the commandments is painful and burdensome and that we should live a life of suffering and deprivation. The Torah's path is referred to as: "a tree of life" "Her ways are ways of pleasantness" (Mishle 3: 17, 18). At the same time we should not think that to serve God, to come before Him with gladness and exultation is simply an emotional state having nothing to do with wisdom and thought. To the contrary a person can begin to understand that gladness and exultation is produced when serving God, especially in every day practical life when you involve yourself in helping yourself and others. Every day life is set up specifically to immerse itself in God's will. The more you use your talents and skills to help others, the greater the gladness.
Divine Service is more than going to the synagogue on the Sabbath or making a phone pledge. Involve yourself in learning more about the commandments and prayer. When you are fulfilling a commandment or are involved in prayer, remind yourself that you are before the One and Only God; that you come before the One Who created you and the world. Do not allow anything or anyone to disrupt the relationship between you and the Creator. Realize that you are dependent on God, not man. Feel glad knowing that you are serving the One who knows all your needs and provides you with all your needs. Be happy that you have God to turn to. Thinking this way gives a person tremendous enthusiasm. It creates a great sense of well being that you can direct your thoughts this way. Begin to understand that by doing the mitzvos there are the great benefits of gladness and exultation. Learn the truths and purpose of the commandments, that itself produces gladness. Gladness and happiness is a by-product of thought. Put your effort and energy into fulfilling God's commandments with optimism and that will take you away from your own sadness and the sadness in the world.
Every Jew is obligated to serve God with joy and gladness in wealth and in poverty in good health and even if one is ill. This level can be reached slowly but be practical about it, you cannot demand happiness from yourself. But you can certainly improve the quality of your life, by putting more effort into Torah study and understanding the commandments and their purpose in our lives. Over time the effort you make in this area will produce peace of mind. It will remove you from things that are petty and superficial and will remove you from the constant need to seek approval from others, which will always cause conflict.
Only God knows all your thoughts. Focus on this idea when you feel estranged from God, especially when the world is in turmoil and when you are personally suffering. It is God that relieves all suffering. Know that when you serve God you are fulfilling your purpose, the reason you were created and this understanding will begin to bring you relief optimism and happiness. Do everything possible to preserve and strengthen this relationship, it is the most important relationship we have. Understanding this will give you satisfaction and peace of mind. Your peace of mind will produce gladness so you can encourage others to serve God with simcha. Only a life committed to service can produce such gladness and exultation. The pusuk emphasizes that only service produces gladness, that to come before God only, produces exultation.
Don't allow yourself to be fooled to think that anything else can bring a person such gladness and exultation. Else meaning red benders, silver rings, handwriting annalists who claim to know your essence from your handwriting, hanging a mezuzah in your car, a palm reader who claims to foresee your future, or claims that one can direct your life with a blessing, or anything else that you imagine instantly creates gladness and exultation. This is all false. The only way to serve God with gladness is through the commandments given to us in truth. There is only one way to achieve exultation before God, through service and truth.
"The type of joy that is a mitzvah is the joy you share with those less fortunate such as orphans, widows, those without a family and poor people. If someone closes his doors to others and only utilizes what he has for himself and his immediate family without helping the poor and the unfortunate, his joy is not the joy of mitzvah, but joy of the stomach. Such joy is a badge of shame." Rambam, Hilchos Yom Tov 6:18.
"The feeling of steady and constant spiritual and moral growth, the continuous growth of all that is truly human in us, a blissful joy of life that is not subject to change in any manner by the outward circumstances which life may bring."
Samson Raphael Hirsch,The Hirsch Psalms, pg. 195.

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