Simcha (שמחה), or Happiness in Judaism is mostly noted as an important component of serving God (avodat Hashem) in Tanach, Kabbalah, Chassidus and Mussar. In Halacha, Simcha is recognized as both an essential component to the practice of all the mitzvot, as well as required in specific Halachik contexts.
Simcha in Halacha
According to the Rambam, "The joy that a person takes in performing a mitzvah and in loving God Who commanded it is itself a great [divine] service."
Simchas Yom Tov
Main article: Simchat Yom Tov
Simcha during the Jewish holidays (Yomim Tovim) is considered a biblical commandment (mitzvah d'oraisa). According to the Rambam this mitzvah may be fulfilled by drinking wine and eating meat. There is no mitzvah of simcha on Shabbos, only "oneg" ("pleasure").
Simcha during Tefilla
With regards to prayer (tefilla), the Talmud states "One should not stand up to pray while immersed in sorrow, or idleness, or laughter, or chatter, or frivolity, or idle talk, but only while rejoicing in the performance of a commandment (b'simcha shel mitzvah)."
Simcha during Av and Adar
Simcha is also cited in Halacha as an element that changes with the season. The Talmud states that one should decrease in joy during the month of Av and increase in joy during the month of Adar. The decrease in joy during Av is mentioned in Rambam and Shulchan Aruch, however, the increase in simcha during Adar is not mentioned. But the Halachik sources that do mention simcha in Adar include the Magen Avraham and the Kitzur Shulchan Aruch. According to the Muncatcher Rebbe, the Nimukei Orach Chaim, the reason for this omission in the Rambam and Shulchan Aruch is due to the fact that happiness has no concrete guideline and very much depends on the nature of the individual. Whereas acts of sadness and mourning (where required by Jewish law) requires specification and delineation.
One Minhag relating to simcha during Adar is to hang a sign in one's home on which should be inscribed "When Adar comes in, increase in happiness" (Mishenichnas Adar marbin b'simcha, משנכנס אדר מרבין בשמחה). Some place this sign on top of the portion of a wall left unfinished (zecher l'churban), serving the memory of the destruction of the Beis Hamikdash.
- Deuteronomy, 28:45, 28:47.
- Psalms, 100:2.
- "Psalm 100: Serving God in Joy." RavKookTorah.org. Accessed November 11, 2014.
- Rabbi Avraham Isaac HaKohen Kook. Olat Re'iyah, vol. I, pp. 221-222.
- Hasimcha B'aspeklarya Hayahadus. Dvar Yerushalayim. Beit Shemesh: Jerusalem. 1989. Page 12.
- Sefer Chareidim, "Mitzvat Hateshuvah", ch. 4.
- Yanklowitz, Shmuly. "Judaism's value of happiness living with gratitude and idealism." Bloggish. The Jewish Journal. March 9, 2012.
- Rabbi Yisroel Baal Shem Tov, Keter Shem Tov, Hosafot, Chapter 169.
- Rabbi Nachman of Breslov, Likkutei Maharan, Part 2:24.
- Freeman, Tzvi. "Just Happy." Bringing Heaven Down To Earth. Class One Press. Accessed November 11, 2014.
- "Rabbi Schneur Zalman of Liadi on Sadness and Joy." Joy: An Anthology. Chabad.org. Accessed November 11, 2014.
- Rabbi Yisroel Salanter. Sefer Imrei Binah, Kevutzas Maamarim. Warsaw. 1878. Page 29.
- Yad Hachazakah, Hilchot Lulav 8:15.
- Rabbi Israel Baal Shem Tov. "Epistle 44." Tzava'at Harivash. Trans. Jacob Immanuel Shochet. Kehot Publication Society. Brooklyn: New York. Fn 3.
- Maimonides, Mishneh Torah, Laws of the Lulav 8:15.
- Cohen, Alfred S. "Vegetarianism from a Jewish Perspective." Halacha and Contemporary Society. KTAV Publishing House. 1984. Page 295-297.
- Tosfot Moed Katan 23 s.v. Maan De'amar
- Talmud, Tractate Berachos, 31a.
- Eisenberg, Ronald L. Jewish Traditions: A JPS Guide. Jewish Publication Society, 2010. Page 524.
- Talmud, Tractate Ta'anis 29a.
- Talmud, Tractate Ta'anis 26b.
- "Mishenichnas Adar Marbim B’Simcha." torahlab.org. Tuesday, February 28, 2012.
- Nimukei Orach Chaim, Piskei Tshuvos, Chapter 686, fn 17.
- "Rambam & Shulchan Aruch, What Happened To Halachic Happiness In Adar?" revach.net. Revach L'tefila. Accessed November 11, 2014.
- Yalkut Avraham 686
- Piskei Tshuvos 686:5.