Published November 2022
THE TIME OF OUR JOY
A discussion in the Talmud provides a good example of the Jewish attitude towards life. It is an attitude which is positive, optimistic, affirmative. The Talmud inquires: If a wedding procession and a funeral procession meet at an intersection, which takes precedence? The unanimous decision was that the wedding procession outranks the cortege because in Judaism joy comes first. Moreover, not only that, but the mourners should turn into a side street lest the sight of their tears dampen the spirits of the wedding party.
Jews do not see the world as a veil of tears. Just the reverse. Halacha, Jewish law, is arranged to make sure that the theme of joy is dominant. Mourning must be suspended during Shabbat and the Holy Days. Even in the midst of grief we must remember the pleasures of life. We must remember that there is a time for joy. The root word for joy is Simcha. We celebrate Simchat Torah, the rejoicing of the Torah. We experience Simcha shel Mitzvah, the joy of doing the right thing. Oneg Means pleasure, and we speak of Oneg Shabbat, the pleasure of the Sabbath. The traditional greeting on Yomtov is Moadim Lesimcha, holidays for joy. Joy is a Jewish value.
May your Thanksgiving celebration be filled with an abundance of joy.
Rabbi Alvin Kass
Chief Chaplain of the NYPD