Why is No One Having a Good Time? I Specifically Requested It

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

by R. Moshe Kurtz

Lomdus on the Parsha: Be’ha’alosecha

Based on the Acclaimed Sefer Chavatzeles HaSharon

Q: Is there a mitzvah to be happy on Shabbos?

Also in the day of your gladness, and in your solemn days, and in the beginnings of your months, you shall blow with the trumpets over your burnt offerings, and over the sacrifices of your peace offerings; that they may be to you for a memorial before your God: I am the Lord your God. (Numbers 10:10)

From a simple glance we could be left with the impression that there only exists an imperative of simchah (gladness or happiness) on the holidays. However, the Beis Yosef (O.C. 281), based on the Sifrei, argues that there also exists a mitzvah of simchah on shabbos. Indeed, this would be the justification for the inclusion of the Yismichu V’Malchusicha prayer in the Shabbos Amidah. On the same basis, the Beis Yosef (O.C. 688) cites the Jerusalem Talmud (Megillah 1:4) which also recognizes that shabbos contains an inherent element of simchah:

Rebbi Zeira said before Rebbi Avahu: then could one make [the Purim meal] on Shabbos? He answered him, “to make them days of drinking and joy (Esther. 9:22)” those whose joy depends on the court; this excludes those whose joy depends on Heaven.

The Jerusalem Talmud teaches us that one may not perform the mitzvah of the Purim meal when it would overlap with the pre-existing mandate of simchah that is Biblically built-in to Shabbos. Along the same line of reasoning, the Shitah Mekubetzes (Kesubos 7a) presents an opinion that the issue with performing a wedding on Shabbos is due to principle of ein me’arvin simchah b’simchah, which means that one should not fulfill two commandments concurrently, as it detracts from fully experiencing the simchah that is due to each mitzvah respectively. The Rama M’Pano (no. 78) similarly explains that one should not recite the Blessing on the New Moon on Shabbos as it would also present a conflict between the simchah demanded by both this special blessing and Shabbos respectively.

However, there would appear to be a clear indication from the laws of mourning that only holidays include an innate element of mandated simchah. When a holiday coincides with the initial seven days (shivah) or first thirty days (sheloshim) of bereavement it terminates the mourning period immediately. However, Shabbos only temporarily suspends public expressions of grief but does not actually curtail the mourning period. Tosafos (Moed Katan 23b, s.v. Man D’Amar) explains that the reason that the holidays completely neutralize the period of mourning is due to the element of simchah they possess which is intrinsically at odds with the notion of grief. Whereas Shabbos, which does not include a requirement of simchah, would not supersede the period of mourning entirely. Instead, R. Akiva Eiger and many others (e.g. Tashbeitz 3:298, Mahari Berona no. 121, Shevus Yaakov 3:31) hold that Shabbos is characterized by the concept of oneg, enjoyment. On this basis, the Maharil was opposed to incorporating the prayer of Yismechu on shabbos, and on the same premise the Tur instructed the recitation of Tzidduk HaDin (prayer accepting God’s judgment) at Shabbos Minchah.

The Ba’al Halachos Gedolos, however, suggests that Shabbos contains both elements of oneg and simchah. If this is true, why does the Talmud (Archin 10b) not include Shabbos as one of the days that we recite the festive prayer of Hallel?

To answer this, we turn to R. Shmuel Rozovsky who draws a distinction between the day (yom) versus the conduct (nihug). While Shabbos may not be a day which is defined by simchah it does incorporate characteristics of conduct that relate to simchah. However, Hallel is reserved for days of simchah – therefore, Shabbos does not qualify for its recitation. Likewise, Shabbos does not curtail the days of mourning since Shabbos is not categorically a day of simchah.

However, since Shabbos does include conduct of simchah, it is reasonable to suggest that prayers such as Yishmachu would be appropriate, while reciting the Blessing on the New Moon or performing a wedding would not be appropriate, as they would contravene the prior mandate of simchah conduct on Shabbos.

Another potential distinction between the simchah of the holidays and the oneg of Shabbos is whether one is required to eat meat at their meal. Some authorities understand that simchah demands an objective standard of meat (perhaps even in the absence of Temple offerings) while oneg connotes an imperative of subjective enjoyment. Therefore, contrary to popular practice, one could potentially argue that it would be better for dairy lovers to eat their lasagna and eggplant parmesan on Shabbos, and make the effort to eat meat meals on the holidays. (See Aruch HaShulchan 529:5, Mishnah Berurah 529:11, and Kaf HaChaim 529:28 and other commentaries on the same section of Tur and Shulchan Aruch.)

Note: This series is not intended to dispense practical halachic conclusions. The Torah presented here is but a small extraction from the breadth of the sefer Chavatzeles HaSharon and is not affiliated with the author in any official capacity. Translations are adapted from Sefaria, Chabad.org, Mechon Mamre, and my  own. Contact: [email protected] 

About Moshe Kurtz

Rabbi Moshe Kurtz is Assistant Rabbi at Congregation Agudath Sholom of Stamford, CT. He welcomes questions, feedback and speaking requests at: [email protected].

Leave a Reply

Subscribe to our Weekly Newsletter

The latest weekly digest is also available by clicking here.

Subscribe to our Daily Newsletter