The LORD has done it this very day;
let us rejoice today and be glad. — Psalm 118:24
We begin a new year of devotional teachings from Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein with a focus on joy, simcha — the joy found in the grateful acceptance and celebration of each day God has given to us. Join us as we explore Rabbi Eckstein’s teachings on the joy found in connecting with God and with others.
We invite you to dig deeper into the Jewish roots of Christianity with Rabbi Eckstein’s monthly teaching series, Limmud. Check it out here.
A story is told about a 92-year-old woman as she entered the nursing home where she would spend the rest of her life. After waiting patiently in the lobby, she was told that her room was ready. An attendant escorted the lady to her room, and as she slowly edged her walker toward the elevator, he described the room to her. “I love it!” she exclaimed with the enthusiasm of a child who had just received the most wonderful birthday gift. “But Mrs. Jones, you haven’t even seen it yet!” the man replied. “That has nothing to do with it,” she said.
The elderly woman continued: “Joy is something you decide on ahead of time. Whether I like my room or not doesn’t depend on how the furniture is arranged . . . it’s how I arrange my mind. I already decided to love it. It’s a decision I make every morning when I wake up. Each day is a gift, and as long as my eyes open, I’ll focus on the new day.”
For some people, this kind of attitude may take a lifetime to master. Others will pass through this world without ever knowing the kind of joy that this perspective can bring. But we can choose to move into this frame of mind today – no matter how old or young we may be, no matter how rich or poor, no matter what our circumstances.
In Psalm 118, the psalmist provides us with one of the most powerful verses that we can incorporate into our lives: “The LORD has done it this very day; let us rejoice today and be glad.” Translated literally from the original Hebrew, the verse reads: “This is the day the LORD has made, let us rejoice and be glad on it.”
While this psalm is part of a group of psalms traditionally recited on holidays, the Jewish sages teach that this verse applies to every single day of our lives. Every day when we wake up, we have to look at “this very day” as “The Day.” Every day is the day that “the LORD has made.” He has created everything in this day exactly as it should be. We must “rejoice and be glad on it” because it is created by and lovingly given to us by the Master of the Universe. Today is His gift to us – that’s why we call it the present!
Every day of our lives can be filled with joy. Remember – it’s not about how the things in our lives are arranged; it’s about how we arrange the things in our minds. Let’s decide to live every day as if it is the very best day of our lives!
Check out Rabbi Eckstein’s study on Abraham, the father of our faiths, Abraham, in his Limmud (“study” in Hebrew) teaching, “Abraham: The Patriarch of Loving-kindness.”