And You Will Be Happy On Your Festival–Thoughts On Shabbat HaGadol

Rebbe Nachman of Breslov’s famous saying, מצווה גדולה להיות בשמחה (Mitzva gedola l’hyot b’simcha), “It’s a big mitzva to be happy”, is not necessarily an halachic opinion, but good life advice.  However, (ושמחת בחגך (דברים ט״ז י״ד (V’Samachta b’Chagecha, Devarim 16:14), “And you will be happy on your festival”, does have the weight and status of a מצווה דאורייתא (Mitzva D’Oreita) Biblical commandment.

In contrast to Shabbat, where the concept of ענג שבת (Oneg Shabbat), Enjoying Shabbat, is a Rabbinic injunction and is based on a prophetic verse (Isaiah 58:13), וְקָרָאתָ לַשַּׁבָּת עֹנֶג (V’Karata l’Shabbat Oneg) “And you will call Shabbat a pleasure”, being happy on the חגים (Chaggim) Festivals is a profound Torah obligation.

I remember my rebbe, Rabbi BCSZ Twerski zt”l, saying that Simchat Yom Tov (שמחת יום טוב), was the “hardest mitzva in the book”. Turning on our joy and maintaining it for 48 hours (longer if one includes the intermediate days of Chol Hamoed), not allowing ourselves to become annoyed or angry or depressed, is a super-human task. He didn’t mean programmed “Happiness” of singing and dancing, but the actual inner feeling. The world, in its current mode, is just not that well-suited to sustained joy.

Even after we make the decision, using our בחירה (Bechira) Free Will, to be happy, we need every bit of סייעתא דשמיא (Si’ata d’Shemaya) God’s help that we can gather to be able to carry it out.

חג שמח וכשר (Chag Sameach v’Kasher), May you have a Joyful and Kosher Pesach.

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3 Responses to And You Will Be Happy On Your Festival–Thoughts On Shabbat HaGadol

    • It’s not a matter of negotiating a “fair deal”, but of guaranteeing our survival. Compromise is an effective strategy only when both sides have the same rules and the same goal–a reasonable price. Absent that common ground and the only questions are how many unilateral concessions are we willing to make this time and when are the next demands going to be announced.

  1. Mr. Cohen says:

    What Jewish Liberals Fail to Comprehend:

    “As our Evelyn Gordon wrote in a prescient COMMENTARY article published in January 2010, by signaling its willingness to withdraw from some territory, the Israelis did not convince anyone of their good intentions.

    To the contrary, such concessions reinforced the conviction that Israel was a thief in possession of stolen property.

    The reaction from the Palestinians and hostile Europeans was not gratitude for the generosity of the Israelis in giving up land to which they too had a claim, but a demand that it be forced to give up even more.

    Land-for-peace schemes and a belief in two states on the part of Israelis has always led most Palestinians to believe that their goal of forcing the Jews out of the entire country was more realistic, not less so.”


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