In Jerusalem, even the graffiti is wise.
The graffiti below, which I came across this afternoon on Betsalel Street, reads “It’s not simple to be happy.”
Why did I think these spray-painted words were important enough to stop to take this photo even though it was 1:29 PM and pick-up time at Tsofia’s gan is 1:30?
We tend to think that happiness is out of our control. It’s something that just comes and goes in accordance with what’s going in our lives at the moment.
The cake turned out well, I’m happy.
The cake burnt to a crisp, I’m sad.
My bank account is full, I’m happy.
I’m checking my caller ID to avoid the bank’s calls, I’m sad.
I’m getting along with my husband, I’m happy.
My husband and I are at each other’s throats, I’m sad.
But my teacher, Rabbanit Yemima Mizrachi, pointed out that it shouldn’t be this way. Her proof? The Hebrew word for happiness “Simcha/שמחה” is made up of the words “Sam Moach/שם מח)” or “apply your brain.”
Because many days we wake up and happiness isn’t something that comes naturally or easily—at all. Figuring out what we need to do to feel happy when we don’t feel happy– is hard work.
Or as one wise graffiti-writer put it: “It’s not simple to be happy.”