By Rabbi Yair Hoffman
- There is a fascinating Zohar Chadash (Shir HaShirim 1a) that tells us of a special holy light that encompasses every Jewish Neshama on each of the six Yomim Tovim (and most Poskim include Rosh HaShana as well). This light, however, is unable to shine forth and impact the soul unless it is accompanied with Simcha. In other words, the key to unlock the special light is through Simcha.
- The parameters of the obligation are explained by the Rambam (Hilchos Yom Tov 6:17,18) to forbid eulogies and fasting. He must also be happy and cheer-hearted – he, his wife, his children, his grandchildren, and all of his household.
THE THREE EXTRAS
- The Rambam (ibid 6:18) explains that part of this Mitzvah of Simcha is to feed the convert, the orphan, and the widow. The Ksav Sofer (Responsum OC #78) explains that this obligation stems from the Simcha obligation of Yom Tov and not the Mitzvah of Tzedakah.
- Originally, of course, the Mitzvah of Simcha was tied to the consumption of the Korban Shlamim. Which are tied to the consumption of actual meat of a B’heima. The Mishna Brurah (529:11) writes that if a person cannot afford meat for Yom Tov then he may use fowl or chicken and this is sufficient. The Mishna Brurah proves this from a Rambam in Hilchos Shabbos (30:10) and extends it to Yom Tov.
- The method of Simcha is each according to their individualized needs. How so? Children should be given nuts and nice foods, one should purchase for the women clothing and jewelry, according to what he can afford. The Biur Halacha suggests shoes (529:2 k’fi mamono.)
- Meats and wine should also be consumed for there is no joy without meat and wine. The Rambam is of the opinion that this obligation stands today as well, even though there is no Korban Shlamim after the loss of the Beis HaMikdash. The Shaages Aryeh (Siman 65), on the other hand, that in our days the obligation of Simcha is not specifically with meat but one can fulfill the obligation even with other things that bring joy.
- The Chazon Ish (OC 124 p.71a) is unsure whether the meat obligation of the Korban Shlamim is for once a day or it also includes the evening. The same question would apply for wine and regular meat as well.
- According to the Rambam there is an obligation to drink wine specifically. According to the Shaages Aryeh one can fulfill the drink obligation with grape juice or with other drinks that he is not accustomed to drink throughout the year. The Shvus Yitzchok (10:2), however, cites Rav Elyashiv zt”l that one cannot fulfill the simcha obligation of wine through other hard alcohols, but it does fulfill the notion of Simcha with other foods.
- How much wine must he drink? Rav Elyashiv zt”l held that it should be a full revi’is. Rav Chaim Kanievsky zt”l and Rav Vosner zt”l held that one also fulfills it with less than a reviis. Clearly, however, if wine bother the person there is no Mitzvah of Simcha in drinking it.
- Rav Elyashiv zt”l explained that the Mitzvah of Simcha on Pesach night is just on drinking the wine, but not on each individual cup of the four cups of wine – even though there is a Mitzvah of derech cheirus on each of the four cups. (Haaros Psachim 108b).
- Part of the Simcha obligation is to attempt that one’s clothing be very special – even more so than Shabbos clothing (See Ramah 529:1)
HONORING YOM TOV AND TAKING DELIGHT IN IT
- There is an obligation on Yom Tov to honor Yom Tov as well by virtue of the word, “Kodesh” that appears in the Torah describing it. Honorable and nice clothing is an obligation of Kavod Yom Tov. It is on account of the Simcha element that it should be better than Shabbos clothing.
- There is also an obligation of Oneg Yom Tov – taking delight in Yom Tov – as well. Part of this Mitzvah is to have 2 meals every Yom Tov, one at night and one in the day. The Oneg aspect of it requires one to have more than an egg’s volume of bread – the Simcha element (see Rav Shulchan Aruch) mandates a wine, meat and delicious foods (or their equivalent).
BODY AND SOUL
- One must keep in mind that Simcha affects the body as well as the Neshama. Each person, small and big, was created b’Tzelem Elokim – in the Divine Image. There is a remarkable sefer entitled, “B’aitzascha tenacheini” which states (Perek 30) that, generally speaking, for most people, their body and intellect develop as they age, but their Neshama does not. We should treat the Neshama of a child, just as we would treat the Neshama of an adult – with the respect and kavod that the Neshama represents.
- Sometimes we tend to cut down or insult others, when we really should be building them up. We want to be remembered as people who helped grow because of us and not despite us. One manner in which we can ensure that we help develop the simcha of those around us is in how we interact with them. It should be genuine and not forced, and it should be an improvement that consistently remains with us. This includes: A] Expressing genuine admiration for their accomplishments and talents. We should think at what they are good at and great at and express that to them. B] Spending quality time with them without their feeling that you are rushed. Show interest in others and don’t interrupt them, or change the subject. If we use the words, “Let’s_____” cheerfully, something special happens. C] We should genuinely thank others around us for what they have done. Offer kindness to others around us.
- The Talmud Yerushalmi (Shabbos 15:3) tells us that the Yomim Tovim were given to the Jewish people in order that they engage in Torah. The Gemorah in Beitzah 15b cites the opinion of Rabbi Yehoshuah that it is a “Mitzvah to split it half to Hashem and half to yourselves.” This opinion is codified in the Shulchan Aruch (OC 529:1). There seems to be a debate as to whether this is to be understood literally or figuratively. The language of the Rambam (Hilchos Yom Tov 6:19) indicates that it is literal – i.e. 50%, but the Maharshal in his Yam Shel Shlomo (Baitzah 2:5) does not read the Rambam in the literal sense. The Pri Magadim (Aishel Avrohom 242:1) states that everyone has the choice whether to spend the majority of the Yom Tov learning or partaking in Simcha.
- The Gemorah in Megillah 32a states that Moshe Rabbeinu enacted that the topic of the Yom Tov should be studied on the Yom Tov itself. There are opinions that this refers specifically to laws – the halachos (see Shaar HaTziyun 529:5).
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