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Shmini Atzeret
Three Expressions of Happiness Print E-mail
Sunday, 07 October 2007

The midrash in Yalkut Shimoni, Emor, points out that in reference to the holiday of Sukkot, we find three forms of happiness listed in the Torah:

“v’samachta b’chagecha”, “you shall rejoice on your festival” (Devarim 17:14)

“v’hayita ach sameach”, “you shall be completely joyous” (Devarim 17:15)

“v’samachtem lifnei HaShem Elokeichem shivat yamim”, “you shall rejoice before HaShem your God for a seven-day period” (Vayikra 23:40)

In reference to Pesach we don’t even find one reference to “simcha”, happiness. In the case of Shavuot, happiness is mentioned only one time:

“v’asita chag Shavuot l’HaShem elokecha… v’samachta…”, “you shall observe the festival of Shavuot for HaShem your God…and you shall rejoice…”

Rabbi Moshe Hurvitz comments that on Pesach, the festival of freedom, the word “simcha” is not mentioned since freedom on its own has no value. Freedom only has value when it is coupled with the Torah, a system of morals, ethics and spirituality. The Torah was given on Shavuot, therefore the reference to Shavuot includes the word “simcha”. The word “simcha” was only used once the happiness was complete. As the expression goes, “im ein kemach ein Torah”, “if there is no flour then there is no Torah”.

On the holiday of Sukkot we gather in our harvest, we have the “kemach”, the material side as well. There will only be true happiness when we combine the “kemach” with the Torah.

Many people choose to live in Israel because of the Land’s holiness and spirituality. However, studying Torah is not enough. In order to survive, people must have the opportunity to work in order to be able to put food on their tables. If jobs could be found for all those who are seeking work, then the issue of poverty in Israel would greatly be reduced and Israel would be an even happier place, not just on the holidays, but all year long!