The baby doesn't seem to believe in the concept of 'sleep'.
I woke up around 2:30am this morning to see the baby, in bed, awake, climbing all over my wife, in bed, fast asleep.
We're too old for this....
In the beginning of parshas Beshalach, immediately after the Jewish nation left Egypt and crossed the Red Sea, they were led to a place call Marah. There, they were given a small number of mitzvos to do. The Torah itself does not elaborate on how many mitzvos or which mitzvos. However, the Ramban writes that these mitzvos were given (specifically before the giving of the Torah), in order to see if they would accept the Torah (and it's mitzvos) with simcha.
It's a bit strange, since many believe that these mitzvos were given to us in order to train us to be obedient to the Torah, like soldiers to their officers. Yet, the Ramban says that this is not true. It's in order that we should do the mitzvos out of love and happiness.
I recently heard a talk given by Rav Reuven Leuchter on this subject. He explains that there are two ways to connect to Hashem: one via obedience and one via simcha. We don't have a choice whether or not we want to keep mitzvos, but we DO have a choice on HOW to do the mitzvos Therefore, we have obedience on the lower end, and simcha on the higher end.
Rav Yisroel Salant said that a person serves Hashem with simcha only when he uses his personal strengths in His service. However, when a person does not have a personal strength regarding a certain mitzvah, his simcha can come from obedience, by knowing that even though he does not have a connection with that particular mitzvah, he is still doing the mitzvah to the best of his abilities.
With that, Rav Leuchter continued. Shavous is called "the time of our wedding," the wedding between Hashem and the Jewish people. If so, the period preceding it, from Pesach until Shavous, is the time where the "couple" goes on dates to get to know each other.
When a person is looking for a spouse, they are not looking for somebody who is a mirror to them. Nobody wants to marry themselves. They generally are looking for somebody who they enjoy being with, whose personality they enjoy and whose outlook in life they agree with. Yet, every couple has certain issues where they disagree or don't see eye-to-eye. And that's fine. The key to keeping such a relationship moving forward is not to fight with each other on those issues, but rather to learn to live with each other even WITH such divergent views or feelings. When a couple realizes the differences between them and each side works on themselves to take into consideration the other side (even though they might not understand it fully), they will eventually grow with mutual respect for each other.
Our relationship with Hashem is the same way, each individual in their own way. There are certain mitzvos that a person can connect to, for whatever reason. Yet, there are certain mitzvos that are more difficult. A vegetarian, might find it hard to understand the concept of offerings in the Beis HaMikdash, for example.
From Pesach until Shavous, we look into the Torah and we look into ourselves and we determine which mitzvos we have a connection to, and which ones we don't. With the mitzvos we connect to, we should continue with that and grow with it. Those mitzvos that are being done with simcha are creating a relationship with Hashem.
And those that we don't have a person connection to, well, we still have to do them. We still have to connect to Hashem via obedience. However, in many cases, there are ways to "upgrade" our relationship with such mitzvos. For some, it's learning about the mitzvah in depth, trying to understand it properly. For others, one can "personalize" the mitzvah to have more simcha in it.
One such example that came to my mind is Shabbos. Especially in the summer, when it's much longer and hotter. Some people find Shabbos to be hard to keep during such times, especially if one has bored children at home. A person can "sweeten" the mitzvah by buying special treats for the middle of the day. One can buy books that the entire family enjoys listening to, when one of the parents reads it. Special games, etc. By making a personal connection and having simcha in the mitzvah, one's connection to Hashem also grows.
Another way one can grow from obedience to simcha is by knowing that you are doing the will of your partner and making THEM happy, even if you know it's at your "expense." Take me, for example. As a healthy male, I have a natural hatred for going to IKEA. My wife, a healthy female, has a natural desire to actually LIVE there. Now, of course, I try my best not to go. However, for her birthday, I gave her the gift of a trip to IKEA. I took half a day off, borrowed a car, took her, let her off her leash, and paid for everything at the end. Was she happy? Of course! Was I happy? Well … I wasn't happy that I was THERE, however, I WAS happy that she was happy. Perhaps it also atoned for some sins or something. But the point is, even though the trip to IKEA is something I personally do not connect to, I had happiness in the fact that my wife was happy.
While the idea of a "Happy Hashem" is a bit harder to think of than a happy spouse, the idea remains true. Sometimes, our happiness can simply be knowing that we overcame our Yetzer Horah and successful did the will of Hashem.
Each individual has their own natural connection to different aspects of the Torah. Some with Shabbos, some with chessed, some with tzedakah, some with davening, etc. Those special points are what creates a personal relationship with Hashem. There are others which a person does not have such a strong connection to. Of course, he has to do it, but for many mitzvos, one can use different tools, to help them have simcha in those as well.
The key to any successful long-term relationship is simcha and love between two partners. Those partners don't necessarily have to see everything in the same way, nor should they. However, when each side works hard to help please the other, and they themselves eventually have happiness in their partners happiness, then the relationship will continue to grow exponentially.
Have a wonderful Shabbos/Shavous!