Question: In the last few decades, the subject of the pursuit of happiness in human society, in Israel, and in the world has become a trend. A large number of books, courses, and workshops have appeared on this subject. In the book Ecclesiastes by King Solomon, the pursuit of happiness goes hand in hand with the pursuit of truth. What kind of truth is he talking about?
Answer: The truth is different all the time. Every generation determines general rules for itself according to which it determines what is called truth and what is called falsehood, good and evil, pleasure and suffering. A hundred or two hundred years ago, what was considered happiness was having a job, a place to live, a family and children.
If a person could provide his family with food and a roof over their heads, then he was happy. He didn’t want anything besides this. Besides everyday clothing, if he had an additional suit, then this was wonderful! After that they came up with the wardrobe, which was small in the beginning. And now everyone has his own room in an apartment and his own closet. But even that is not enough; we need a walk-in closet for clothes!
We have reached saturation, but a person is still involved with consumption. Our lives have become a race. Where do we feel pleasure? I live in an area where the population belongs to the strong middle class. At seven in the morning, my neighbor runs to his car holding a baby in one hand and a cup of coffee in the other. He puts the coffee down, sits the baby down, and drives the child to the daycare center, after which he travels to work.
He doesn’t come home before eight or nine in the evening. When does he feel happiness? Is it the one day of the week where in the evening he goes somewhere with his friends? Or is it once a year when he travels for a week’s vacation abroad? Where is the pleasure really? He looks at others and says, “Everyone is doing this, and so am I.”
Question: It follows that there is no happiness in the world?
Answer: Happiness, in “Vanity of Vanities” (Ecclesiastes 1:2) is bestowal to others! If we bestow to each other and build a life where everyone is connected in a positive manner in society, then we will fulfill each other, not with things, but with happiness. At present, I want to have the feeling of happiness through the acquisition of something that I bought and then enjoy. How much can I look at it and enjoy it?
Happiness must constantly be renewed. Happiness from a new car lasts for a month, from a house it lasts for a year. How can I arrange life such that my desire to be happy all the time will be renewed and its replenishment will be new? It is this way when I get up every day like a child with wide-open eyes!
In childhood I lived in a house with a big yard. In the yard grew trees and flowers; we had a dog. In the evening I already imagined how I would jump out of bed in the morning and run to the yard to meet friends. I want to live in a mood like this!
Question: In the book Ecclesiastes by King Solomon, the same sentence repeats all the time: “That which hath been is that which shall be, and that which hath been done is that which shall be done; and there is nothing new under the sun.” (Ecclesiastes 1:9). This is a very sad discovery.
Answer: If you just want to enjoy the world then you always get emptiness.
Question: Is it really necessary to reach a state of absolute lack of pleasure in order to understand the necessity of renewal? Is it impossible to get pleasure from both things and connections with people?
Answer: One doesn’t interfere with the other, but I don’t think that a person can be in two worlds. If you are split in two, then neither of the two desires will be called fulfilled. Ultimately we need to show ourselves and others where the true source of happiness is found. The renewal of relationships between us will bring us a feeling of happiness, and this will always be the same vitality that fills the sails of our boat with advancement towards better states.
From KabTV’s “A New Life” 5/23/13