simchah: joy, gladness, mirth
Last night I was paid a “visit” by a small group of Hasidim. They visit only rarely now, and when they do it’s always at once a delight and a source of disquiet. In that troubling characteristic of dreams, what is significant in one’s sleep often blurs and diminishes in the gradual transition to waking. The Hasidim had danced into my unconscious mind to share something of importance which, now, I can only remember vaguely as a sense of Joy. In the dream encounter it was much more than this word implies; it was the richness of the emotion that was communicated and more than that even: a kind of divine happiness – as if God were laughing.
For Hasidim, joy is an expression of God. My night visitors were joyous not in a pious or otherworldly way (0f the sort of ecstasy one might imagine, for instance, the catholic mystic Teresa of Ávila experiencing), but in an earthy, dancing, childlike celebration of life.
Joy is from God. Perhaps God is a happy God.
Subsequent to this post I read in the etymological dictionary http://www.etymonline.com that in Old English the word dream “meant only ‘joy, mirth, noisy merriment,’ also ‘music.’ And much study has failed to prove that Old English dream is the source of the modern word for ‘sleeping vision.”. I find it intriguing that a dream about joy should occur and the etymological meaning of the word dream is in fact joy.