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
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
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."
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.