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Simchat Yom Tov

 



By: Rabbi Ari Enkin

 

The Torah[1] requires one to be “besimcha”, to be happy, on Yom Tov and to ensure that the members of one’s household are in a joyous mood, as well.[2] In order to achieve this it is recommended that one purchase jewelry or clothes for one’s wife and candies for one’s children.[3] It is especially important to be charitable before the holidays to ensure that the needs of the poor are taken care of, as well.[4] One should not be stingy with one’s Yom Tov purchases.[5] Indeed, we are taught that on Rosh Hashana, one’s financial income is decided for the entire year with the exception of Shabbat and Yom Tov expenses, for which one is ultimately reimbursed.[6]

 

Before the Yom Tov meals, one is required to make kiddush just as is done on Shabbat. However, the requirement to do so on Yom Tov is rabbinic in nature rather than from the Torah as is the case on Shabbat.[7] Similarly, one is also required to begin the Yom Tov meals by reciting the hamotzi blessing upon two whole loaves of bread.[8] Nevertheless, there is no requirement to hold a seudat shlishit on Yom Tov, nor a melave malka at its conclusion.[9] Some individuals make an effort to hold a seudat shlishit on Yom Tov in deference to a minority view which teaches that one should do so on Yom Tov as well.[10]

 

One should make an effort to eat meat and drink wine at the Yom Tov meals in fulfillment of the dictum that “there is no joy, except with meat and wine”.[11] However, most contemporary authorities argue that since the destruction of the Beit Hamikdash, meat does not arouse the same level of joy that it once did.[12] As such, the obligation to hold a meal with foods of “joy” may be discharged with serving wine or grape juice at the Yom Tov meals.[13] Those who prefer chicken or turkey would be entitled to use those foods for the “joy” requirement as well.[14] A fish dish is also said to reflect the joyous nature of an event.[15] One should prepare even more foods for the Yom Tov meals than one does for the weekly Shabbat meals.[16]

 

We are taught that the clothes worn on the holidays should actually be nicer than those reserved for Shabbat![17] The reason for this is that a feature of the Yamim Tovim is the obligation for one to be “besimcha”, a principle which is not truly relevant with regards to Shabbat observance.[18] We are taught that one of the ways of arousing feelings of happiness is by wearing exceptionally lavish clothing.[19]

 

Oddly enough, the custom of having a separate set of clothing for Yom Tov is not too widespread. Nevertheless, it is interesting to note that many people instinctively purchase new shoes for the holidays. According to some authorities, making sure to at least have new shoes for Yom Tov satisfies the requirement to have separate Yom Tov clothing. Additionally, having one’s regular clothes cleaned especially for the holiday is considered as making them “new” for this purpose, as well.[20]

 

It is a mitzva to get a haircut in honor of Yom Tov as well as to take a shower.[21]It is also commendable to immerse in a mikva Erev Yom Tov.[22] One should be sure to set aside time on Yom Tov for Torah study.[23] One should also endeavor to visit one’s rabbi and teachers sometime over the course of Yom Tov.[24]

 


[1] Devarim 16:14

[2] O.C. 529:2

[3] O.C. 529:2

[4] O.C. 529:2

[5] O.C. 529:1

[6] Beitza 16a, Kaf Hachaim O.C. 529:3

[7] Mishna Berura 271:102

[8] O.C. 529:1

[9] O.C. 529:1

[10] Rambam Shabbat 30:9

[11] Pesachim 109a, Rambam Yom Tov 6:18

[12] Kaf Hachaim O.C. 529:28

[13] Biur Halacha 529 s.v. Keitzad, Kaf Hachaim 529:22

[14] Yad Ephraim Y.D. 1, Shevet Halevi 1:18

[15] Magen Avraham 533:8, Shevet Halevi 1:18

[16] Kaf Hachaim 529:23

[17] O.C. 529:1

[18] Rambam Yom Tov  6:17-18. One will recall that the primary theme of Shabbat is “oneg”, pleasure, which is distinct from “simcha”, happiness. There are, however, a number of authorities who rule that there is an obligation to be “besimcha” on Shabbat as well, though the halacha does not follow this view.

[19] Mishna Berura 529:12

[20] Elef Hamagen 529:41

[21] Kaf Hachaim O.C. 529:12

[22] Kaf Hachaim O.C. 529:32,33

[23] O.C. 529:1

[24] Shaarei Teshuva 529:2

 
 
The opinions and facts here are presented solely by the author. Torah Musings assumes no responsibility for them. Please address religious questions to your rabbi.
 

21 Responses

  1. joel rich says:

    Nevertheless, it is interesting to note that many people instinctively purchase new shoes for the holidays.
    ==============================
    Also interesting that many people instinctively do spring cleaning before pesach?
    KT

  2. HaDarda"i says:

    “Additionally, having one’s regular clothes cleaned especially for the holiday is considered as making them “new” for this purpose, as well.”

    Isn’t it takanat Ezra always to prepare clean clothes for Shabbat? Indeed, you recently wrote a post about how Thursday is laundry day.

  3. J. says:

    There seems to be a dispute as to whether the mitzva to eat meat/drink wine applies at every meal. To quote R. Josh Flug (http://www.yutorah.org/_shiurim/Simchat%20Yom%20Tov.html):

    “Shulchan Aruch, op.cit., writes that one should drink wine at every Yom Tov meal. The implication is that the mitzvah of simchat Yom Tov applies at every Yom Tov meal. This also seems to be the opinion of Darkei Teshuva, ibid, who questions the minhag to eat dairy products on Shavuot based on the mitzvah to eat meat as part of simchat Yom Tov. If the mitzvah of simchat Yom Tov did not apply to every meal, there would be room to eat meat at one meal, and dairy at another.

    Rav Moshe Feinstein, Igrot Moshe, Orach Chaim 3:68, notes that the mitzvah of eating meat is patterned after the obligation to eat the korban shelamim. Just as the obligation of eating the meat of the korban shelamim applies once a day, for every day of the holiday (including Chol HaMoed), so too does the mitzvah to eat unconsecrated meat apply once a day, every day. [See R. Hershel Schachter, B'Ikvei HaTzon 15:11, who distinguishes between Pesach and Sukkot. On Sukkot a different korban musaf is brought every day, and therefore every day is considered to have an independent sanctity. Therefore there is a new obligation of simchat Yom Tov every day. However, on Pesach, where there is no independent sanctity to each day, one can fulfill the mitzvah of simchat Yom Tov on the first day, and this would suffice for the entire Pesach.]

    R. Moshe Shternbuch, Mo’adim U’Zemanim 1:29, argues that there is no set frequency for the mitzvah of simchat Yom Tov. There is a constant obligation to be in a state of simcha. One uses certain mediums to achieve that state, and when the effect of those mediums wear off, one must replenish the state ofsimcha through those mediums.”

  4. Ari Enkin says:

    Hadardai-

    You bring up a good point. But:

    a) Ezra’s takana applies to all laundry, not just what will be worn on Shabbat
    b) Yom Tov can fall on any day of the week, hence Ezra’s takana just doesnt “fit”
    c) This might be referring to clothes that are exclusively Yom Tov clothes and not just one’s regular Shabbat clothes
    d) And if it is just the regular Shabbat clothes, cleaning them in honor of Yom Tov (especially if Takana Ezra is not applied) gives them this required “newness”.

    Ari Enkin

  5. J. says:

    Regarding going to the mikva on erev yom tov, see the following teshuva from the Tzitz Eliezer: http://hebrewbooks.org/pdfpager.aspx?req=14519&st=&pgnum=78

  6. MiMedinat HaYam says:

    my pet peeve against grape juice fullfilling halachic requirements.

    the biur halacha does not say grape juice, its says wine. (but the next biur halacha would be your source of shoes, if one cannot afford new clothes.)

    2. the mikva issue stems from the gemara (beitzah) “chayav adam le’taher atzmo le’regel”. the chatam sofer says “regel” is only three per year, not RH or YK, which are not “regel”.

  7. Joseph Kaplan says:

    I have a threshhold question: what does “simcha” mean in this context? R. Enkin translates it as “happy.” But what does that mean? Does a vegetarian feel happy if forced to eat meat? Or, indeed, it makes many meat eaters happy to have a break from the heavy meat meals and have one or two dairy meals. And what if you don’t like wine or grape juice or become unhappy at the expense of new cloths when your current cloths make you feel just fine? IOW, does “simcha” mean happy as we understand that english word, in which case some of these halachot seem, say, perhaps a bit odd, or does “simcha” in this context have no equivelent English translation and mean “eating meat, drinking wine, buying your wife a present and your kids candy” no matter how that makes you feel?

  8. J. says:

    MiMedinat HaYam – It would seem that many poskim agree with you. See here: http://www.din.org.il/2011/09/26/%D7%9E%D7%A6%D7%95%D7%AA-%D7%A9%D7%9E%D7%97%D7%AA-%D7%99%D7%95%D7%9D-%D7%98%D7%95%D7%91/

    However, there is an article by R. Menachem Genack (on the subject of using grape juice for daled kosos) where he argues that grape juice is effective for producing simcha. See the end of page 3 and the beginning of page 4:
    http://www.yutorah.org/lectures/lecture.cfm/735493/Rabbi_Menachem_Genack/%D7%91%D7%A2%D7%A0%D7%99%D7%9F_%D7%9E%D7%99%D7%A5_%D7%A2%D7%A0%D7%91%D7%99%D7%9D_%D7%9C%D7%93'_%D7%9B%D7%95%D7%A1%D7%95%D7%AA

    Joseph Kaplan – This would seem to be a machlokes haposkim. Firstly, according to the Sfas Emes on Maseches Sukkah 48 (as quoted in the Piskei Teshuvos 529:11), the mitzvah of eating meat only applies once a day. Secondly, as the article I linked to earlier notes, “מי שמתענג יותר שלא באכילת בשר, רשאי שלא לאכל בשר”.

    According to R. Moshe Sternbuch in Moadim U’zmanim 7:111 (http://hebrewbooks.org/pdfpager.aspx?req=19962&st=&pgnum=188), the mitzvah is subjective, and this is how he explains the fact that nowadays many people (i.e. those who do not enjoy wine) are not careful to drink wine on yom tov (others disagree with this).

  9. I’m with Joseph Kaplan on this. I’ve asked this question before, and I’m going to keep asking it until I get an answer–Is vegetarianism asur/forbidden?

  10. Hirhurim says:

    In my opinion, vegetarianism is not forbidden until the rebuilding of the Temple in Jerusalem and the reinstitution of the sacrificial system.

  11. yehupitz says:

    In a nutshell, this is how I have answered Shira’s question to others in the past: The philosophy that posits that the killing and eating of animal flesh is unethical is counter to the ethics of Biblical-Rabbinical Judaism , i.e. “asur/forbidden”.

    A vegetarian lifestyle choice based on other reasons is not “asur/forbidden”.

  12. Steve Brizel says:

    I would agree with R Gil’s comment re vegetarianism, but I would add a caveat. Simcha is an expression of being Lifnei HaShem. When we had a Beis HaMikdash, the same was expressed by offering Karbanos and drinking wine. One could argue that we commemorate that aspect of Simchas YT ( albeit I am not sure if the same is Min Hatorah or Rabanan) by having at least one meat meal and by making Kiddush on grape juice or wine.

  13. Carlos says:

    “seudat shlishit”?

  14. Ari Enkin says:

    Joseph-

    I’m with you….Simcha is subjective…There is no universal definition.

    Ari Enkin

  15. MiMedinat HaYam says:

    yes, simcha is subjective. but many halachot are based on perceptions of standards dating back to talmudic times (or other time periods where a particular halacha has been frozen), and the question is: are we (still) bound by those perceptions of standards of those times? a post of its own, discussed in recent posts such as “havenenu” (which wisely picked a benign halacha to avoid extreneous controversy.)

  16. AYB says:

    I have a threshhold question: what does “simcha” mean in this context? R. Enkin translates it as “happy.” But what does that mean? … And what if you don’t like wine or grape juice or become unhappy at the expense of new cloths when your current cloths make you feel just fine? IOW, does “simcha” mean happy as we understand that english word, in which case some of these halachot seem, say, perhaps a bit odd, or does “simcha” in this context have no equivelent English translation and mean “eating meat, drinking wine, buying your wife a present and your kids candy” no matter how that makes you feel?

    I was about to make the following point anyway, but given your question, now is the perfect opportunity.

    “Lismoach”, in the context of yom tov, does not mean to BE HAPPY, but rather, to CELEBRATE. Celebration can potentially require an action that does not make you happy, like eating a food you don’t love. “Ein simcha ela bevasar/yayin” is not the incredibly crude elevation of physicality it appears to be, but rather, a statement that the formal “celebration” must be performed in certain set ways. “Vesamachta bechagecha, ata uvincha… vhayatom vehaalmana” means quite straightforwardly “you shall celebrate with your son, daughter, …, the orphan and the widow”.

    Celebration and happiness are of course associated, both in general, and in the goal of the yom tov mitzvah. But if for whatever reason you aren’t happy on yom tov, you don’t need to make yourself even more unhappy by thinking you’re failing to perform the mitzvah of simcha. :)

    Background: http://allyourbeis.blogspot.com/2010/02/metaphysical-dualism.html

  17. Shlomo says:

    The philosophy that posits that the killing and eating of animal flesh is unethical is counter to the ethics of Biblical-Rabbinical Judaism , i.e. “asur/forbidden”.

    I’m not sure why being unnecessarily machmir on tzaar baalei chayim is more problematic than being unnecessarily machmir on any other mitzvah. Is every chumra necessarily a bad thing?

  18. MiMedinat HaYam says:

    shlomo — and tzaar baalei chaim is not as strong a halacha as it is perceived to be, esp in today’s pc world.

    and mishna in beitzah third perek specifically states it does not override yom tov.

    further, objections to slaughtering meat on grounds of tzaar baalei chaim are halachically and morally unfounded.

  19. Shlomo says:

    and tzaar baalei chaim is not as strong a halacha as it is perceived to be, esp in today’s pc world.

    You could say the same about pretty much any other mitzvah which is currently the subject of chumras.

    and mishna in beitzah third perek specifically states it does not override yom tov.

    Yom tov does not need to be overridden since bizman hazeh there is no obligation to eat meat.

    further, objections to slaughtering meat on grounds of tzaar baalei chaim are halachically and morally unfounded.

    Tzaar baalei chaim is always weighed against human need. What can be wrong with avoiding the tzaar by not feeling a personal need? Certainly some such people have their priorities in the wrong places (I’m guessing that’s the argument you have in mind), but how can you make a blanket statement about every such person?

    For the record, I eat meat. (Not too often, but only due to health/cost issues.)

  20. MiMedinat HaYam says:

    shlomo– “You could say the same about pretty much any other mitzvah which is currently the subject of chumras.”

    i’m not even talkimg about the chumra aspects of it. its just not the halacha ppl consider it to be. like “hasagat gvul”. everyone thinks its not at all permitted. well, the parameters of it are very, very limited. ditto tzaar baalei chaim.

    2 the mishna in beitza does not even concern eating. its still not permitted. and i am extending the concept to eating , using the vegetarian argument that i do not even subscribe to, at all.

    3. i wont even go there. its a personal preference issue, as you state.

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