SALT - Wednesday, 26 Nissan 5778 - April 11, 2018

  • Rav David Silverberg
            Earlier this week, we noted the Rambam’s ruling in Hilkhot Tum’at Tzara’at (9:7) that a kohen may inspect a skin discoloration to determine whether it qualifies as tzara’at on any day of the week “except Shabbat and Yom Tov.”  The Kesef Mishneh commentary, as we saw, understood from the Rambam’s formulation that inspections should not be made on Shabbat for the same reason as they may not be made on Yom Tov.  On festivals, as the Gemara discusses in Maskhet Mo’ed Katan (7-8), inspections are not made because declaring a person impure would disrupt his festivity and celebration.  According to the Kesef Mishneh, the Rambam applied this reasoning to Shabbat, as well, and maintained that inspections must not be made on Shabbat due to the obligation to rejoice on Shabbat.  (Although, as we saw, the Rambam gives a different reason for this halakha in his commentary to the Mishna, Negaim 1:4.)
            Rav Efrayim Yitzchak of Peremyshl, in his Mishna Acharona commentary to Masekhet Negaim (1:4), dismisses this theory, arguing that there is no obligation of simcha (rejoicing) on Shabbat as there is on Yom Tov.  It is only on Yom Tov that the anguish potentially caused by a tzara’at inspection forces us to forbid such inspections, due to the obligation of simcha.  On Shabbat, however, no such obligation exists, and thus there must be some other reason why inspections are forbidden on Shabbat (as we’ve discussed in our last several installments).
            The Mishna Acharona’s comments touch upon the issue addressed by many writers concerning the formal classification of the mitzva of enjoyment on Shabbat.  The view expressed by the Mishna Acharona, distinguishing between the experiences of Shabbat and Yom Tov in this regard, was developed at length by Rav Soloveitchik in one of his published lectures (Shiurim Le-zekher Abba Mari z”l, vol. 1, pp. 64-68).  Rav Soloveitchik asserted that the obligation of simcha of Yom Tov stems from the experience of appearing before God in the Beit Ha-mikdash, which is unique to the three pilgrimage festivals (Pesach, Shavuot and Sukkot), and thus has no place on Shabbat.  This assertion is sourced in Tosefot’s comments in Masekhet Mo’ed Katan (23b) explaining that Shabbat, unlike Yom Tov, does not terminate the shiva mourning period because there is no obligation to rejoice on Shabbat as there is on Yom Tov.  The simcha we are to experience on Yom Tov diametrically conflicts with mourning, and so the onset of Yom Tov brings an end to the observance of mourning.  Shabbat, by contrast, does not conflict with mourning, and for this reason mourning is observed even on Shabbat (albeit in far more moderate fashion, as only private mourning practices are observed).
            According to this approach, we must distinguish between the obligation of oneg Shabbat, which requires enjoying oneself on Shabbat, such as through fine foods, and the obligation of simchat Yom Tov, which requires a more general experience of joy.
            Many writers have noted that a passage in the Sifrei appears to indicate otherwise.  The Torah in Sefer Bamidbar (10:10) requires sounding the chatzotzerot (trumpets) on “yom simchatkhem” (“your day of joy”) and on “mo’adeikhem” (“your festivals”), and the Sifrei explains the former term as referring to Shabbat.  If the Torah calls Shabbat our “day of joy,” then we may reasonably conclude that there is an obligation of simcha on Shabbat.  However, the Vilna Gaon emends the text of the Sifrei such that it interprets only the word “be-yom” (“on the day”) as referring to Shabbat, not the entire phrase “u-v’yom simchatkhem.”  According to this version of the text, the Sifrei does not associate Shabbat with the experience of simcha.  Moreover, Rav Soloveitchik (cited by Rav Binyamin Tabory) understood the Sifrei as referring to the joy required in the Beit Ha-mikdash on Shabbat when offering the special musaf sacrifice.  The musaf offering was accompanied by joyous singing and festivity, and it is only in this sense, according to Rav Soloveitchik, that Shabbat is described as a “day of joy.”  It is therefore described this way specifically in the context of the obligation to sound the chatzotzerot in the Beit Ha-mikdash at the time the sacrifices were offered.
            Incidentally, Rav Soloveitchik (in the aforementioned lecture) explained on this basis the practice of many Ashkenazim (those who follow the traditional nusach Ashkenaz prayer text) to make mention of the theme of simcha in the musaf prayer on Shabbat – “Yismechu be-malkhutkha…” – but not in the other Shabbat prayer services.  Citing his father, Rav Moshe Soloveitchik, he proposed that the experience of simcha on Shabbat is associated specifically with the musaf sacrifice, which was accompanied by great joy and festivity in the Beit Ha-mikdash, and thus we include the theme of simcha in our musaf prayer which commemorates the musaf sacrifice.  The nusach Sefarad prayer text, which is based upon the teachings of the Arizal, includes the passage “Yismechu be-malkhutcha” in all four of the Shabbat prayers, perhaps reflecting the view that simcha is required on Shabbat just as it is on Yom Tov.