shabbos candles

Weekly Halacha Series
Halachos Series on Hilchos Yom Tov

shabbos candles

Published by
Pirchei Shoshanim

A Project of
The Shema Yisrael Torah Network

Written by

Rabbi Dovid
Ostroff, shlita


These Halachos were shown by Rabbi Ostroff to
HaGaon HaRav Moshe Sternbuch, shlita



Questions for the Week of Parshas Vayechi

How is the mitzvah of simcha celebrated on Yom Tov?

When compared to Shabbos, Yom Tov, has an extra embellishment called simcha happiness. The prophet tells us that we must enjoy Shabbos, as it says , which is achieved by consuming succulent food and drink. [1] The Mishna Berura cites Rishonim who hold that enjoying Shabbos is included in , as it says and the Sifra explains that one must enjoy Shabbos with food and drink. Oneg (pleasure) applies to Yom Tov as well, as Yom Tov is also . [2]

So what is simcha?

The Rambam [3] says the following: One is obligated to be happy and good hearted on Yom Tov; him, his wife and children and all those depending on him. How does one make them happy? Children are supplied with nosh (nuts, candies etc.) and women are supplied with fine clothes and jewelry, according to one's financial means. Men consume meat and wine, as simcha can only be had with meat and wine.

What is the Rambam's source?

The Rambam cites the possuk (rejoice on your festival) as the biblical source for simcha. However, he states that the possuk is really referring to consuming the korban sh'lamim offered on Yom Tov the shalmei simcha, but nevertheless it includes all means of simcha, each person with what makes him happy. Indeed in the time of the beis hamikdash the main simcha was to eat the korban sh'lamim.

What if one particularly enjoys eating fish, not meat, what is the simcha?

Rav Yosef in the gemora [4] says that women's clothing differs; in Bavel women appreciated colored clothes and in Eretz Yisrael women prefered ironed linen. There is no set pattern. For most people a good piece of meat and good wine satisfies whereas others might enjoy salmon steak. Each to his own, as long as it brings one simcha.

Revelry and wine seem contrary to Jewish behavior, should one not be more serious?

Firstly, there is a major difference between drinking for simcha and frivolity. Secondly, the halacha maps a timetable for Yom Tov, which does not leave much room for incorrect behavior.

The Rambam writes (6:19) even though eating and drinking on Yom Tov is a mitvas aseh (a positive mitzvah) one should not spend the entire day eating and drinking. Everyone must rise early to shul and to batei midrash where they learn and read Yom Tov portions in the Torah and return home to eat. They then return to shul and learn until midday. After midday they daven mincha, return home to eat and drink until nightfall.

We see that Yom Tov is divided between shul and learning and eating and drinking, which should place Yom Tov in the right Torah perspective.

Is there a mitzvah of simcha on Chol Hamoed?

The Mishna Berura [5] cites the Rambam as his source to say that simcha applies on Chol Hamoed but kavod (honor) and oneg do not apply. However, in another location [6] he cites other sources who say that oneg and kavod apply to Chol Hamoed as well and one must eat, drink and wear clean clothing different to that of a weekday.

Why the discrepancy?

Mitzvas simcha stems from , which applies to Chol Hamoed as well. Oneg and kavod stem from and Chol Hamoed is not called . [7]

What is the difference between oneg and simcha?

Oneg requires one to eat two bread meals on Shabbos and Yom Tov, one at night and one during the day. The Rambam says to drink wine during the Shabbos and Yom Tov meals (on account of oneg) and consume meat and delicacies according to ones means. Actions that cause pleasure are included in oneg.

The original simcha was to eat the korban, as stated above, not any meat and only because we lack korbanos are we obligated to find other means to make ourselves sameach. [8]

In the time of the beis hamikdash one has a mitzvas aseh to eat the korban. One must consume meat during a meal or alternately if one does not enjoy meat, one should consume food that brings simcha. (Rav Sternbuch shlita explains that simcha is brought about by specific items, whereas oneg is more general. E.g. eating nuts is pleasurable but does not necessarily cause simcha. A good wine or juicy piece of meat will).

Must one imbibe wine every day of Chol Hamoed?

Its mathematics. Since it is a mitzvah to be bsimcha on Chol Hamoed and wine produces simcha, one should imbibe wine on Chol Hamoed. [9]

It is not clear though how much wine, whether a reviis, [10] a majority of a reviis or any amount. [11] Perhaps we could say that the purpose is simcha and each person according to his particular drinking habits. Some people will suffice with a small amount of wine while others require more, vtzorich iyun. If one does not enjoy wine it seems sensible that one is free from this obligation.

[1] See M"B simon 242:1.

[2] Simon 529:1 and M"B 4.

[3] Hilchos Yom Tov 6:17-18

[4] Pesachim 109a.

[5] Simon 529:16.

[6] Simon 530:1 and Sha'ar ha'Tsiun 4.

[7] Shulchan Aruch HaRav simon 529:5-7.

[8] Shulchan Aruch HaRav simon 529:7.

[9] See the references cited in SSK 66 footnote 4.

[10] 86cc or 150cc.

[11] See the SSK 66 footnote 4.


Food for Thought

Hilchos Chol Hamoed

Are melachos prohibited on Chol Hamoed midoraisso or midrabanan?

May one shave on Chol Hamoed?

Does it make a difference whether one shaved before Yom Tov?

What about cutting fingernails?

Answers coming BE"H next week.

Vort on the Parsha

Yakov instructed Yosef to swear to do chesed ve'emes kindness and truth and bury him in Eretz Yisrael. See Rashi. The K'sav Sofer explains that chesed done to others in this world is not a chesed shel emes because the results are in this world to better another's wellbeing in this world, which is not the world of truth. Being buried by tzadikim and eulogizing to the point that the listeners repent, merits the deceased in the true eternal world, which is a chesed, a kindness of emes in the eternal true world.


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Note:  The purpose of this series is intended solely for the clarification of the topics discussed and not to render halachic decisions. It is intended to heighten everyone's awareness of important practical questions which do arise on this topic.  One must consult with a proper halachic authority in order to receive p'sak.