Serve Hashem besiimcha - and so will your children!
Serve Hashem besiimcha - and so will your children!
In our parsha, we read of ninety-eight קללות: ‘curses’, which will befall Bnei Israel because(28:45-47):’You have not hearkened to the voice of Hashem, to observe His commandments..;..because you did not serve Hashem, your G-d, בשמחה: with gladness and goodness of heart, מרב כל: when everything was abundant’.

Asks Rav David Hofstedter: ‘Is there not a contradiction in these psukim? On the one hand, we are told that the curses are the punishment for not observing Mitzvot; yet, subsequently, we read that the קללות are for not serving Hashem with joy, בשמחה?

Rav Bunim me’Pshischa, reconciles the two psukim, by saying that:Not performing Mitzvot with שמחה, is the reason why people who presently perform Mitzvot, will, in the future, come not to perform them, at all.

Rav Nebenzahl explains: Even if one now performs all the Mitzvot punctiliously, the test of whether he- and his children- will perform them in the future, is whether he performs them בשמחה.

Adds the Rav:When one performs Mitzvot בשמחה, it leads to him always seeking to do more and more Mitzvot, as he has an ‘identification with’, and an appreciation- of the worth, of the preciousness of Mitzvot.

And, his children, seeing his example, will also, in their lives, follow in his ways.

How should we serve ה׳ בשמחה?

The Ari Hakadosh answers, by homiletically translating  מרב כל׳’, not as ‘when everything was abundant’, but as ‘more than anything’.

Our simcha in doing Mitzvot should be greater than our joy in any other activity, whatsoever.

Rav Elya Lopian adjures us not to be like those  people who perform Mitzvot by rote, whilst, at the same time, giving their full and undivided attention to each and every detail of their ‘worldly’ activities, such as dining, and, above all, to the pursuit of wealth. We should ensure that the care and importance - and שמחה- we give to our performance of Mitzvot is greater, than our שמחה from any other activity.

Rav Nebenzahl concludes:’If we now perform all the Mitzvot, but without שמחה, out of a sense of ‘obligation’, and by rote, then- our parsha teaches us- our children will ‘absorb’ this lifelessness , and are likely to end up not performing the Mitzvot at all’.

On the other hand, adds Rav Hofstedter: ‘If we perform Mitzvot with שמחה, with an appreciation of our great זכות to perform Mitzvot, then our children will inherit this vital trait, and it will stay with them all their lives’.
This, he concludes, is the promise of our sages:(Shabbat 130.)’Every Mitzvah which Bnei Israel accepted בשמחה, they still perform בשמחה’.

And, surely there is no greater gift that we can give to our children than this!

לרפואת נועם בת זהבה רבקה ונחום אלימלך רפאל בן זהבה רבקה, בתוך שאר חולי עמנו.