Graffiti Wisdom

Graffiti Wisdom

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.”

it's not simple

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.”


  1. So good, Chana Jenny. Yes, we can’t always choose our circumstances . . . but we can always choose our attitude toward them.

  2. I also noticed this graffiti. What’s interesting is that it actually makes you smile! I bet the person who put it up there is a pretty cheerful guy.Or at least entertaining in his misery.:)

  3. I want to believe this, but I’ve noticed for me it seems chemical/hormonal. Some days nothing gets me down, even tho’ a lot of sad/annoying/disappointing things conspire to…and other days any little thing can trigger a pity-party.

    When I check the calendar, I see the pattern emerging (you guessed it, it’s monthly). Am I just misunderstanding what “simcha” really means?

    • JewishMom

      i think that what you are doing is “applying your brain” to be happy…figuring out the patterns, and figuring out ways to deal with them–even if these patterns mean you can’t be as happy as you would like every day of the month.

  4. how do you read that last word in the grafitti? is it slang?

    • JewishMom

      it’s pronounced “mop–soot.” Slang from Arabic meaning happy or satisfied.

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