A Greater Joy

Translation and commentary by Eliyahu Munk from Shnei Luchot HaBrit


This is interpreted in the Zohar (Midrash Hane-elam) as referring to the World to Come. Rashi also points out that the passage [recited when bringing offering of the first fruits of the Land] contains our thanks to G-d who, in His kindness, has already saved us at the beginning of our national history when we were merely a single family. We must learn from it to give thanks to G-d for all our achievements whenever they occur.

"This day the L-rd your G-d commands you…." (Deut. 26:16) Commandments must be accompanied by a greater joy than the joy one feels for all the material blessings G?d has bestowed…

Rashi explains that the commandments should appear to us as if they had only been issued on that very day. Similarly, on the verse,"Keep silence, and hear O Israel, this day you have become a people to the L-rd your G-d" (Ibid. 27:9) Rashi writes, "You should consider each day as the one on which you entered into the covenant with G-d."

This is a very important rule, which, when practiced, helps us to perform G-d's commandments with eagerness, as one performs a task newly assigned. It helps not to treat Torah as something that we are so familiar with that we fall into the habit of neglecting its demands.

"…because you did not serve the Lord you G-d in joy and with a glad heart when you enjoyed everything in abundance." (Ibid. 28:47)

The Arizal explains the above verse in a way similar to Rashi's perspective. G?d teaches us that performance of His commandments must be accompanied by a greater joy than the joy one feels for all the material blessings G?d has bestowed on one. It is not enough merely to serve the Lord and obey His commandments. We must do so joyfully.


Rabbi Isaiah Horowitz the Shelah b. 5320 (1560 CE) in Prague; d. 5390 (1630 CE) in Jerusalem, where he served as chief rabbi. Author of Shnei Luchot HaBrit, hence the acronym SHeLaH, a work of commentary and halacha.



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