Tzav – The Joy of a Wedding

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Yirmiyahu, in the haftorah for the Torah portion of Tzav, warns of the imminent destruction of the first beis hamikdash and the desolation that will take place in Yerushalayim and its surrounding areas if the Jewish people won’t repent. One of the things he says in the name of Hashem is: “I will suspend from the cities of Yehuda and the streets of Yerushalayim the sounds of joy and the sounds of gladness, the voice of the groom and the voice of the bride; for the land will become ruin” (Yirmiyahu 7:34). The Radak says on this Pasuk that in place of a voice of joy there will be a voice of lamenting, crying and screaming. (Click here for Hebrew text.)

To put into perspective the joy of a wedding and marriage in general, the Yalkut Shimone on this Pasuk quotes a Gemara in Brachos daf 6b: “And Rebbe Chelbo said in the name of Rav Huna, anyone who benefits from the banquet of a bridegroom and does not gladden him violates the five “sounds” as it is stated, ‘The sound of joy and the sound of gladness, the sound of the groom, and the sound of the bride, the sound of people saying, praise Hashem, Master of Legions’ (Yirmiyahu 33:11). And if he does gladden the bridegroom what is his reward? Rabbi Yehoshua Ben Levi said, he merits the Torah which was given with five “sounds” as it is stated, ‘On the third day when it was morning, there were sounds and lightning, and a heavy cloud on the mountain, and the sound of the shofar etc. “The sound of the shofar etc.” And G-d would respond to him with a sound’ (Shemos 19:16,19)… Rebbe Abahu said it is as if he brought a thanksgiving offering as it is stated, ‘they bring thanksgiving offerings to House of Hashem. Rebbe Yochanan (Rav Nachman bar Yitzchok) said, it is as if he built up one of the ruins of Yerushalayim as it says ‘For I will return the captivity of the land as at first, said Hashem’ (Yirmiyahu 33:26).”

The Iyun Yaakov on this Gemara says that the five “sounds” could be referring to the five qualities mentioned in Yevamos of a Jew without a wife who is living without joy, blessing and goodness. And those in Israel add: without Torah and without a wall [to protect from sin]. Representing these five acquisitions acquired upon getting married are the five sounds of joy. Indeed, Rabba bar Ulla added a sixth acquisition of peace, which we can actually say was included in the Torah, as it is written: “Hashem gives power (referring to Torah) to his nation, Hashem will bless his nation with peace” (Last pasuk in Tehillim perek 29).(Click here for Hebrew text.)

But out of all the examples of joy the prophet could have picked to express the direness of the situation, why did he pick  a wedding, the joy between a bride and her groom? What about the joy and excitement of Torah learning that was raging all over the city? Or the joy and glee of the Simchas beis hashoava that took place in the courtyard of the Beis Hamikdash every Sukkos which the mishna in the beginning of the fifth chapter of sukkah says: “whoever has not seen a simchas beis hashoeva has not seen [true] happiness in their life!”

It would seem that the most impressionable joyfulness that people relate to is of a wedding between chasson and kallah.

(They just didn’t have Purim yet…just joking;))

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