A Woman’s Oneg Yom Tov
‘You Shall Call The Shabbos A Delight’
The Avudraham, one of the classic Poskei Rishonim, cites in the name of R’ Gershon ben R’ Shlomo that the obligation to light candles for Shabbos is based on the mitzvah of oneg Shabbos. In order to enjoy the food that one eats, one must be able to see it. Therefore, Shabbos candles are lit where the Shabbos meal is consumed. However, there is no obligation to light candles on Yom Tov since there is no mitzvah of oneg Yom Tov. Therefore, R’ Gershon concludes that no berachah should be recited over lighting candles on Yom Tov (Avudraham, Maariv shel Shabbos).
Our sugya discusses the mitzvah of oneg Shabbos, which is based on Yeshaya 58:14: “Call the Shabbos a delight (oneg).” Although this passuk is found in Navi, many Rishonim maintain that oneg Shabbos is a Torah obligation (see Mishnah Berurah 242:1; Shaar HaTzion ibid.; see at length the Meoros HaDaf HaYomi journal on Nedarim 66a and Pesachim 68b).
The mitzvah of oneg Shabbos lends great significance to all food eaten over the course of Shabbos. Although it is generally permitted to eat untithed food in an informal setting, it is forbidden on Shabbos. Shabbos makes even a small amount of untithed food significant and, therefore, the food may not be eaten until tithes are taken.
The Gemara, however, does not clearly state whether there is a similar mitzvah of oneg Yom Tov. The Rishonim, therefore, debate the issue.
Learning from Haman
The Rambam writes explicitly that there is a mitzvah of oneg Yom Tov: “Just as there is a mitzvah to honor the Shabbos and to delight with it (oneg), so too there is a mitzvah with Yom Tov” (Hilchos Yom Tov 6:16). The Meiri (Beitzah 3a, 35a; Shabbos 119a) writes similarly, as do other Rishonim (see Ritva, Moed Koton 13a; Teshuvos HaRashba 4:317, et. al.).
A source for this position can be found in a Midrash which describes Haman’s conversation with Achashveirosh and his slanderous description of the Jewish people. Haman complained that the Jewish people constantly indulge themselves with food and drink, with excuses of “oneg Shabbos and oneg Yom Tov.” (It is interesting to note that poskim consider the wicked Haman to be a source from which one can draw halachic conclusions; see Noda B’Yehuda 2: Y.D. 161).
Other Rishonim, including the Avudraham, cited above, and the Shaar HaMelech, citing one opinion in the Meiri, maintain that there is no mitzvah of oneg Yom Tov. Tosafos asserts the same, and therefore rules that there is no obligation to eat bread on Yom Tov (Tosafos, Sukkah 27a; see also Tzlach on our sugya in regard to the effect of oneg Yom Tov on the laws of tithing).
The Shulchan Aruch, O.C. 529, rules that there is an obligation of oneg on Yom Tov, in accordance with the Rambam’s opinion. This obligation is derived from the continuation of the passuk cited above, “Call the Shabbos a delight… to sanctify Hashem in His honor.” Since the Yomim Tovim are sanctified to Hashem – the Torah calls them “mikraei kodesh” – one must eat a meal with bread to honor them.
For the same reason, if a person forgot to say Ya’aleh V’Yavoh during Birchas HaMazon, he must repeat Birchas HaMazon, as is the halacha with all obligatory bread meals (Shulchan Aruch O.C. 188:6). Likewise, since the accepted halacha is that there is a mitzvah of oneg Yom Tov, a berachah must be recited over Yom Tov candles.
A Woman’s Obligation
It is customary that women be the ones who light Shabbos and Yom Tov candles. Should they therefore say a berachah when lighting? Perhaps we can argue that the obligation of oneg Yom Tov only applies to men since normally women are exempt from positive, time-bound commandments.