Simcha (Joy on Shabbat)
The Weekly Mitzva
Yeshivat Har Etzion
Simcha (Joy) on Shabbat
By Rav Binyamin Tabory
"There are four things which were said in connection with Shabbat two of Biblical origin, and two mi-divrei soferim, which were described by the prophets. The Torah said zakhor (remember) and shamor (observe), while kavod (honor) and oneg (enjoyment) were described by the prophets. (Rambam, Hilkhot Shabbat 30:1)
The two rabbinic laws of kavod and oneg apply not only to Shabbat, but to Yom Tov, as well (see Rambam, Hilkhot Yom Tov 6:16). However, on Yom Tov there is also a Biblical obligation of simcha to rejoice: "You should be happy on your holiday" (Devarim 16:14). Is there a mitzva of simcha on Shabbat, as well?
In Parashat Beha'alotekha, the Torah
lists the days on which the chatzotzrot (trumpets) must be sounded in the
Many other sources indeed indicate that such an obligation exists. The Bahag enumerated the mitzva of Shabbat as "the simcha and oneg of Shabbat." It should be noted that the Bahag most likely refers here to rabbinic obligations of simcha and oneg, as he is wont to count rabbinic laws in his list of mitzvot.
The Sefer Ha-Manhig records that the
The Yerushalmi (Megilla 1:4) establishes that if Purim falls on Shabbat, the Purim feast should not be held on that day. It explains that the Megilla instructs us to "make" Purim a day of simcha and feast. Inasmuch as Shabbat is automatically a day of simcha, there is no way or need to "make" it a day of simcha.
Tosafot (Ketubot 7b) ruled that although generally we recite sheva berakhot at a meal during the first week of marriage only in the presence of "panim chadashot" (someone who has not yet taken part in the wedding celebration), this condition does not apply on Shabbat. They explain that Shabbat itself constitutes "panim chadashot," as we always observe Shabbat as a more festive day through simcha and feast. Though one might claim that Tosefot here do not refer to a halakhic obligation of simcha, but merely observe common practice, on the other hand, this might indicate that an obligation of simcha does exist.
A well-known halakha establishes that although a mourner does not observe mourning practices on Shabbat, the day of Shabbat nevertheless counts towards the seven days of mourning. Yom Tov, by contrast, cancels mourning altogether: if a person passes away on Yom Tov, mourning does not begin until after Yom Tov. The Yerushalmi (Mo'ed Katan 3:5) discusses the reason for this distinction and says that if Shabbat would cancel mourning, there would never be a seven-day week of mourning. The Yerushalmi appears to hold that fundamentally, both Shabbat and Yom Tov are days of simcha and should cancel mourning. It is only due to a technical problem that we count Shabbat as a day of mourning.
On the other hand, other sources seem to indicate that no obligation of simcha applies at all on Shabbat. Tosafot (Mo'ed Katan 23b), for example, write explicitly that Shabbat counts towards the seven days of mourning because simcha is not mentioned in connection with Shabbat. Only Yom Tov, which features an obligation of simcha, cancels mourning entirely.
The Shita Mekubetzet (Ketubot 7) quotes an opinion that one may not get married on Shabbat because doing so violates the prohibition against mixing together two types of simcha ("ein me'arvin simcha be-simcha"). However, this opinion was rejected by the argument that there is no law of simcha on Shabbat.
The Maharil (end of Hilkhot Yom Tov) forbids fasting on Yom Tov, as it is a day of simcha, but permits fasting on Shabbat, on which there is no obligation of simcha.
The Shulchan Arukh (O.C. 529:4) writes that we should wear nicer clothing on Yom Tov than on Shabbat, and the Magen Avraham (ad loc.) explains this ruling based on the fact that Yom Tov, unlike Shabbat, is a day of simcha.
The Tashbetz (298:2) goes so far as to suggest the possibility of allowing eulogies on Shabbat. He says that inasmuch as Shabbat is not called a day of simcha and one observes some mourning laws (in private, though not in public) on Shabbat, perhaps we could permit eulogies, as well.
We have thus encountered different opinions regarding this issue. It is possible that traces of this discussion can be found in variant texts of the siddur.
On Friday night, we say (or sing) "Lekha Dodi" as we welcome Shabbat. The last stanza of this poem reads, "Come in peace, crown of her husband, in simcha and good cheer." The Ari substituted the word "rina" in place of "simcha." When, however, Shabbat and Yom Tov coincide, the Ari recited "simcha" instead of "rina." Apparently, he felt that the idea of simcha applies only to Yom Tov, and not to Shabbat.
On the other hand, the Ari had the practice of reciting "yismechu" during all the Shabbat prayers, as opposed to custom of Nusach Ashkenaz, to recite it only at musaf. Including this paragraph in every prayer would imply that simcha applies to Shabbat, whereas limiting it to musaf would suggest that there is no law of simcha per se on Shabbat. Rav Soloveitchik zt"l explained that the verse in our parasha cited by the Sifrei as the source for an obligation of simcha on Shabbat refers only to the actual time when they brought the sacrifice (musaf). There is an obligation of song and simcha when the sacrifice was brought, and therefore the Ashkenazic custom is to recite "yismechu" only at musaf.
Regardless of the dispute we have seen concerning this issue, it is worth recalling the last words of Shulchan Arukh Orach Chaim. In a totally different context, the Rama writes, "One should fulfill all opinions by making a greater feast and a good-hearted person will always feast."