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How To Share Joy

02/02/2021 02:12:15 PM


Rabbi Aryeh Feigenbaum


One of the notable features of life during a pandemic is the limit on the number of people we can share our simchas with. As a rabbi, I have spent much time this year encouraging individuals to focus on what they have, rather than on what they do not have. I point out that it is important to focus on those who are present at the simcha, rather than on those who cannot be there because of the limitations of the pandemic.

All this is well and good when advising other people. It is another story when we have to deal with this issue as we celebrate our own family’s simcha. 

As most of you know, this past Sunday our son, Shimon, announced his engagement to Avigail Haskell of Chicago. The gratitude to Hashem and joy we feel is enormous. And yet, by Monday, it began to dawn on me that we will be forced to celebrate this simcha without many of the people we love (including our extended family, members of this kehilla). Somehow, the advice I had given many people over these past few months did not assuage my distress over the limits we would have to deal with. And then I began to understand a thought I had seen in the Nesivos Shalom.

He explains that true simcha comes from the realization that what a person has just experienced is a direct gift from Hashem. At a moment of simcha, a person senses, with great humility, that without the direct hand of Hashem in one’s life, the occasion being celebrated would never have happened. It arouses a strong sense of connection between one’s soul and its Creator. When the simcha is transformed into a celebration of the spirit, when that kind of spiritual connection happens, a person naturally expands his world and wants to include others. It is not merely a desire to have a large event, but a sincere desire of one soul to connect to other souls, to share spiritual joy with those one loves. 

So, what is the solution to this pandemic dilemma? It is to recognize that celebrating and sharing simcha is not limited to space or location. The story is told of Rabbi Akiva Eiger, who, though not even in the same city as the wedding of a student of his, was seen dancing at the time of the wedding. He explained that the physical distance in no way detracted from the simcha he felt for his talmid’s wedding, and he was therefore dancing as he would if he were physically present.

The simcha we feel at this time makes us keenly aware of the constant presence of Hashem in our lives. As such, we know that this simcha will be celebrated under the exact conditions He has decided are best, and we also know that physical presence and location are not factors in sharing our simcha with the ones we love.

Sun, July 21 2024 15 Tammuz 5784