On Joy

What is the task that Moshe Rabbenu lays upon us towards our entrance to Eretz Yisrael? Is it to work hard, to suffer, to exert our efforts? Well, the task is to rejoice. The word “joy” (שמחה) appears 12 times in Sefer Devarim (Book of Deuteronomy), 7 of which are in this week’s Portion. When we examine the context, we find that joy is forthcoming when we give to another and share our joy with them. Joy appears in a Yom Tov (holiday) meal to which we invite the poor, or at a festive event in which we take care to welcome also the widow and the orphan, etc.

Rashi sums up the recipe for joy with the following words. The Lord tells us: “If you bring joy to Mine – I’ll bring joy to yours”. That is, if you take care of “My” people (the poor, the weak, those who are lacking) – I will bring joy to you and your family. In an age of pursuit of happiness, this is a revolutionary worldview: The Portion does not call upon us to look for joy in distant places or in materialistic accomplishments, titles and degrees, but rather – to understand that the real source of joy is in our rapport with others and in our attitude towards others. A revolution of joy.

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סיון רהב-מאיר

Sivan Rahav-Meir is a media personality and lecturer. Married to Yedidya, the mother of five. Lives in Jerusalem. She works for Israel TV news, writes a column for Yediot Aharonot newspaper, and hosts a weekly radio show on Galei Zahal (Army Radio). Her lectures on the weekly Torah portion are attended by hundreds and the live broadcast attracts thousands more listeners throughout the world.
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