Be Content
Be Content

Same’ach b’chelko literally means “happy or content with one’s lot.” In other words, this Jewish value reminds us that we need to be content with what we have. This not only refers to our belongings, but also implies that we should not envy what belongs to others, live in the present moment, be happy with our own talents and accomplishments, and accept who we are. There is no limit to what we don't have, and if that is where we focus, then our lives are inevitably filled with endless dissatisfaction.

In essence, we need to be grateful for what we have and who we are. Therefore, same’ach b’chelko is closely connected to another Jewish value, hakarat hatov, gratitude. When we are content with and grateful for what we have, we don’t feel threatened by the success and good fortune of others. We can celebrate what they have by appreciating what is our own. How we feel about ourselves can have an impact on our attitude toward others. As we give thanks, our practice needs to be to recognize and honor what we have received and to be grateful for its sufficiency.

Our own contentedness, then, truly is reflective on our perspective on life: the why and how, the meaning and purpose of our existence in the world. The rabbis of the Talmud teach that we should give thanks for the ability to give thanks. The very first words we are to speak in the morning are Modeh Ani—I am grateful to You. Beginning the day with thanks, our eyes are attuned to blessing and our spirit renewed.

Questions for Reflection:

  1. We learn from Pirke Avot 4:3 that we should not underrate the importance of anything. What is the reasoning for not underrating the importance of anything? 
  2. Do you feel more content when you have a sense that all things have their place? 
  3. What makes you happy, and what are you grateful for? 
  4. How can you incorporate the value of same’ach b’chelko in your classroom?

Be happy with what you have.