SUKKOT AND SHEMINI ATSERET: Being happy for 9 days.

ושמחת בחגך אתה ובנך ובתך ועבדך ואמתך והגר והיתום והאלמנה אשר בשעריך
דב’ 16:13-15
“Be joyful at your festival-you, your children, your servants, the Levites, the foreigners, the orphans and the widows who live in your towns.”
Besides living in the Sukka and taking the four species, in Sukkot we have another Mitsva called “simha”, happiness. This Mitsva also extends for two more days after Sukkot (In Israel is just one day): Shemini Atseret and Simhat Tora.
We are commanded to be and behave in a happy way, every Yom Tob and particularly in Sukkot and Shemini Atseret/Simhat Tora.

First of all, we are happy to belong to Am Israel, by knowing that HaShem protected us in the desert and that we are still under His permanent care.
Second, although, we are used to the idea that happiness is a result of success and that success consists in having more, gaining more, showing more, etc. the Jewish vision of happiness is a little different. If success is getting what you want, happiness is wanting what you got. And sharing it. In Yom Tob we learn to be happy with what we have, regardless of what we have or how much we have.

Part of this Mitsva consists in the enjoyment of material happiness. In Yom Tob we share many festive meals with our family, friends and guests (wine and meat are a must in Yom Tob’s menu). We eat and drink, we sing, we honor the day and we make it pleasurable, as we do with Shabbat (Shulhan ‘arukh OH 529:1). In honor of Yom Tob, we also dress well, or according to the Shulhan ‘arukh, we should dress better than Shabbat. (idem.)
The Hakhamim also specified that each individual in the family enjoys material happiness in a different way. They said that before Yom Tob begins the parents should get for their children “…roasted nuts and walnuts (=the equivalent today of candies and small toys); the husband has to buy clothing and jewelry to his wife, at the level he can afford. And the husband is ahppy with a good meal (and, I would add, by seeing his children and wife happy!).
“Simha” also requires moderation. “During Yom Tob [and this includes very specially Simhat Tora, a person should not drink too much… because drunkenness and frivolity are NOT part of the Mitsva of happiness: those are foolishness and licentiousness… and we are commanded to attain a level of happiness that is compatible with worshipping HaShem… and one cannot worship HaShem thru frivolity and drunkenness” (Idem., 6:19) “The greatest way to worshiping God is by being happy because we are doing the commandments of God, and because we love Him” (MT H. Sukka veLulab, 8:15).
We are also commanded to share our happiness with those who don’t have enough. We should provide food for the the orphans, the widows and other poor people” (SH. ‘A 529:2). Maimonides elaborated on this last point: “One who locks the doors of his house [to the needy] and eats and drinks together with his children and wife, and does not feed and give drink to the poor and needy, is not feeling the joy of a mitsva, but the joy of his own stomach . . .” (MT Yom Tob 6:18)
חג שמח