The Secret of Happiness by Rabbi Benny Berlin
Everyone wants to feel happiness in their life. What is the secret to feeling this happiness? I learned from Rav Uri Etigson that two answers can be found in this very parasha, Parashat Ki Tavo. The first key is appreciation. The parasha opens with the mitzvah of bikkurim. Every year, every farmer must bring his first fruits to the Temple and declare before G-d that he recognizes that all his fruits and even the very land which he lives on and which he inherited from his ancestors – is not really his! It is all a gift from G-d! What other nation tries to keep alive the notion that they are strangers in their own land?! Yet the Torah directs us to constantly remember that we were a slave nation in Egypt and that G-d gave us the land of Israel as a gift. The more we internalize this awareness, the more authentic joy we will feel when partaking even of the simple joys often taken for granted.

The second key to happiness suggested in our parasha is to try to feel loved by Hashem. Before the warning of curses, this parasha also promises blessings if Am Yisrael follows the Torah. However, many commentators ask why the Torah does not promise any spiritual rewards of Olam Ha-ba or the like, but rather only promises physical rewards such as rain, abundance of food, and security in the land of Israel.
Rabbi Yehudah HaLevi and the Abarbanel answer that the greatest ‘spiritual’ reward that the Torah can offer is to live a ‘physical’ life in the land of Israel in which the presence of G-d is clearly manifest. It seems that the central beracha in our parasha is, “The nations of the earth will see that the name of G-d is called upon you” (28:10). If we can truly feel that we represent G-d’s name in the world, and that the Torah and mitzvot are a gift and an opportunity to fulfill our calling and to feel a unique connection with
Hashem, there is no greater beracha and secret to happiness than this!