Remember the song, “When you’re happy and you know it… and you really want to show it…”? It tells us to clap our hands, stomp our feet, and express our joy with our bodies and our voices.

Joy isn’t something we want to keep to ourselves. When good news comes or something makes us happy, our first impulse is to tell someone.

I have recently become more involved that ever with the Brady Campaign Against Gun Violence, affiliating (finally!) with the local Sarasota chapter. This is not a joyous task, and yet, the act of engaging with others who share my hopes and dreams for our nation’s safety is indeed joyful. I am happy to join their ranks, happy to know that I can be part of a group effort to make a difference in our communities.

Rabbi Jonathan Sacks points out that the Hebrew word for joy, simcha, appears only once in each of the first four books of the Torah but 12 times in Deuteronomy. It appears seven times in this week’s Torah portion, called Re’eh – which means “see” but in this case is better translated as “understand.”

In his final discourse to the people, Moses wants us to know how important it is to be joyful, all the time, each of the seven days of the week.

Rabbi Sacks writes: “Simcha is usually translated as joy, rejoicing, gladness, happiness, pleasure, or delight. In fact, simcha has a nuance untranslatable into English. Joy, happiness, pleasure, and the like are all states of mind, emotions. They belong to the individual. We can feel them alone. Simcha, by contrast, is not a private emotion. It means happiness shared. It is a social state, a predicate of ‘we’ not ‘I.’ There is no such thing as feeling simcha alone.”

Here, near the end of the Torah, we are inundated with commands to recognize God’s presence in our lives and adhere to God’s laws. We are told to listen, to see, to feel, to do. In short, the Torah wants us to put our whole selves into relationship with God. And to do it with joy, and with each other.

It is a timely message, as we are just a month away from the Jewish High Holidays. May we be blessed to move into this month of Elul, which begins this weekend, with abounding joy.

To learn more about the Brady Campaign, click here. The Sarasota Chapter maintains a Facebook page here.