“And G-d spoke to Moses saying: Speak to the Children of Israel saying: On the fifteenth day of this seventh month is the Festival of Succos, seven days for G-d.” (Vayikra/Leviticus 23:33, 34). G-d commands a seven-day long period of celebration for the festival of Succos/Booths.
This coming Sabbath we read Parshas Emor. It sets forth the standards of purity and perfection for a Kohen, specifies the physical requirements of sacrifices, what must be done with an offering that has a blemish, and proclaims the Sabbath, Passover, Shavuos, Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur and Succos to be holidays. Also, it discusses the pure olive oil for the Menorah and loaves of bread, known as the Showbread, for the Table. It ends with the story of a man who blasphemed G-d's name with a curse.
For ten verses preceding the ones quoted above, the Torah explains the awesomeness of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. As a result, it is not possible to understate the importance of these two holy days. Nor can we miss that someone who fails to fast on Yom Kippur will be spiritually excommunicated. So it would be reasonable to assume that our normal standard of behavior should be like how we act on these formidable days.
Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch notes that according to the Torah, Rosh Hashanah is celebrated for only one day (two in our time for certain practical reasons), as is Yom Kippur whereas Succos is seven days long. Thus, while there are two somber days for atoning and fasting, there are more than triple that for being joyful and celebrating.
Rather than be bowed down with remorse at not having lived up to our potential, the Torah teaches us that our normal mood should be joyousness for the bounty G-d has given us. We should enjoy our possessions, but more importantly, we should revel in performing our duty to G-d.
Question – How do/would you fulfill the command to be joyous?
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