What is simcha? We say we are going to a simcha, we will be making a simcha, how was your simcha; all insinuating that it is an event, a place, a party to attend. So why do we call these events (weddings, bar mitzvah, bris, engagements) simchas? At a “simcha” there is usually music, food, fancy clothes and lots of people; definitely all the ingredients to make a great party.
But what is the difference? (Honestly most people I know don’t have parties per se; because bli ayan hora they have so many children who are celebrating simchas; they don’t have a need or time for parties.) A simcha marks the milestones of a person’s life that is connected to taking on mitzvoth. Simcha is a deep emotional attachment to Hashem.
Engagements, wedding, bar mitzvah, and brit Mila, mark a change in status and taking on mitzvoth. The obvious one; a bar mitzvah boy (or a girl’s bat mitzvah) means the almost adult is now considered responsible for taking on mitzvoth. An engagement or wedding is the taking on all the responsibility and mitzvot of marriage. At a brit; a baby boy is given the covenant of Avraham Avinu marking him as a Jew (and the mitzvah is fulfilled by the father or his proxy). There are other simchas. A siyum is the finishing of learning something in Torah completing a cycle which encourages the baeli simcha (the master of the event) taking on more learning. Hachnasat Sefer Torah the finishing of writing a Torah and bringing it to a place that will use the Torah. All have the taking on mitzvot or completing a mitzvah.
But simcha is still not the event itself; these are the places where you will experience simcha. Simcha is the deep emotional connection to Hashem. The closer people are connected to the event; the greater their simcha, the greater their emotions will be felt.
Music, food, wine, nice clothes are all implements to reach happiness, joy, delight and glee. On Yentiv (the holidays) we are told to have meat and wine, and women should buy jewelry and new clothes; these will help bring happiness into the holidays. At a ‘simcha’ we use the same tools; so the guests can feel the simcha with the baeli simchot.
Did you ever notice that the baeli simchot don’t eat, drink, they barely notice anything physical going on? I remember I had a friend who was determined to lower the sound of the bands at events; yet when it was his event he never noticed the loudness. They don’t need these enhancers (nor really aware of the details); they are already there.
Yet there are certain simchas that bring on the happiness to more than the usual suspects (read: family). Last night I was able to attend the l’chaim of one of my closest friends’ daughter’s engagement announcement. She saw her twin marry many years ago and was m’vtar on having her younger sisters get married before her. At an age which I’m not allowed to disclose; she is a kallal. This crosses family lines. This is a simcha that all those who know this beautiful, talented, bright young woman can’t help but feeling tremendous gratitude to Hakodesh Baruch hu and feel simcha.
Mazel Tov! Mazel Tov!