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A Life of Sublime Pleasure

Friday, 14 June, 2019 - 9:42 am

When we think of the word 'pleasure,' we might think of an elegant banquet or an exotic vacation. Something in the self-gratification mode.

So it feels counter-intuitive that Chabad Chassidic thought identifies ‘pleasure’ – ‘Taanug’ in Hebrew – as the core of our soul energies. Does it make sense that when we dig deep into our psyches, peeling away our personality layers and getting to our Essence, we find pleasure?? Our moral teachings generally steer us away from selfishness and self-absorption, guiding us toward a life of other-centeredness. So how can pleasure, our own enjoyment, be at the core of our holy soul?

It’s important to realize that pleasure isn’t inherently a selfish thing. It’s a morally neutral soul-rhythm, a character-muscle. We can certainly point it in the direction of self-satisfaction. But it has other, loftier applications. There's actually a special brand of pleasure that comes with selflessness.

I can enjoy an ice cream cone. But if I use the treat to ignite a smile to the face of a poor child, that beaming face would give me a soul rush beyond anything sugar can accomplish.

The easy path to pleasure is to just eat the ice cream myself. Reaching out to that child takes some effort.

Meaningful pleasure doesn't come easy. But it’s pleasure at its highest form. And that pleasure should be life’s driving force.

So we should ask ourselves: What gives us pleasure? Do we find beauty in leaving our self-bubble and connecting with others? Do we appreciate the inner contentment that comes with making a difference in someone else's life?

Pleasure strikes deep within our core, so where we find pleasure, where our passions lie, is hugely important. If we can harness our pleasure taste buds to appreciate relationship building, if we can find excitement in selfless commitment to a special relationship, we will have engaged a powerful personal engine to power a life of meaning.

My daughter Faigie is getting married this coming Tuesday, G-d willing. My wife Malkie and I pray that she and [her fiancé] Mendy, experience a life of true pleasure, the pleasure that comes with selfless commitment to each other, and to a meaningful life. May they have a life in which they strive to access higher pleasure, a life in which that beauty permeates every waking moment.

Mazel Tov Faigie and Mendy.

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