It is important for us to know that the ability to be satisfied with whatever livelihood and possessions Hashem has given us is a lofty and worthwhile goal. “Better is dry bread with contentment, than a house full of sacrifices and strife (Proverbs 17:1). We read in Pirkei Avot, “Go and see which is the best trait for a person to acquire. Said Rabbi Elazar said, ‘A good eye'” (2:10). The Bartenura adds that this is someone who is happy with one’s portion, does not desire needless possessions, and is not jealous when a friend has more. We need to learn to be content with a little, and not have to constantly seek satisfaction from everything.
We live in a generation in which so many people suffer from dissatisfaction, boredom, and unfulfilled lives. Many find no fulfillment in life and are left with only emptiness and worries. The more one tries, the deeper one sinks, G-d forbid.
All of this comes from a stubborn insistence on deriving maximum satisfaction and pleasure from every act, rather than being content with experiencing little, or nothing at all. We need to realize that we can learn to be satisfied by the simple fulfillment of our responsibilities.
This is all the more so when it comes to our avodat Hashem, service for Hashem, which is our true purpose in life. We must learn to expect less and do more, both in spiritual practices, and in daily responsibilities. Above all, we must believe that Hashem directs each of our lives individually with the utmost precision and care.
We should fulfill our responsibilities as best we can, and let Hashem do what is right in His eyes. “You gave joy to my heart” (Tehillim 4:8). It is Hashem who gives us joy. We need to thank Hashem for the good He has given us, and find satisfaction in that.
Rebbe Nachman teaches that if we knew how truly kind Hashem is to us, we would realize that even when He deals with us harshly, He is still showing us His love and kindness. Some small good point can be found even within the pain. “You have relieved me in my distress” (Tehillim 4:2) …
Based on In All Your Ways: A Guide to Avodas HaShem, Collected Discourses of Rabbi Yaakov Meir Shechter.