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Chupah in Israel

With Hashem’s help, there will be many weddings this coming week as Lag B’Omer is on Thursday.

One of the Brochus we give the Chosson and Kallah is we ask Hashem to give them and us Sasson V’Simcha.

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We ask Hashem, “Quickly Hashem, may we hear in the cities of Yehuda and the courtyards of Yerushalayim the sound of Sasson (joy) and Simcha (gladness).”

What is the difference between Sasson and Simcha?

The Gra (the Vilna Gaon) explains that Simcha is the excitement and happiness which comes with the anticipation of a joyful event.

While Sasson is the feeling of happiness one has once they are already experiencing the long-awaited event.

Therefore, a couple who is getting married on Lag B’Omer are now in a state of Simcha as they are happy as they anticipate their upcoming marriage.

On the other hand, Sasson is the happiness they will feel once they are already married.

If this is true, why, in Sefer Yeshaya (35:10), when the Navi prophesizes about the upcoming Messianic era, does it says, “Sasson V’Simcha Yasigu” (Gladness and joy will overtake them)? Why is Sasson before Simcha?

שָׂשׂ֤וֹן וְשִׂמְחָה֙ יַשִּׂ֔יגוּ

Shouldn’t Simcha, the anticipatory happiness, proceed Sasson?

The Vilna Gaon answers that the order is, of course, correct.

It indicates that in the future, we will live in a time where even after we reach and attain the Simcha we anticipated, and we are already in a state of Sasson. Nevertheless, we will expect even more happy things in the future.

Therefore, the passuk says that Sasson (the anticipated happiness) and Simcha (anticipating even greater Simcha) will overtake them in the future.

According to the Gra, part of man’s tragedy is that in this world, we have desires.

We think once we reach our desired goal, we will be satisfied.

But alas, such is not the case.

As the sages taught, “He who has a hundred now wants two hundred.”

However, in the future, after we are redeemed, we will experience Sasson, a sense of total attainment of happiness.

Nevertheless, Hashem says, “You are not yet finished with happiness. You can anticipate even more happiness to come.”

We may say “dayenu”- this is enough- which is Sasson.

However, Hashem says, “No, it is not enough. Anticipate even more and more happiness to arrive.”

A parable that illustrates the Vilna Gaon’s understanding is the following:

A man is on his way to Eretz Yisroel after the two years of the pandemic.

He buys a ticket and is happy (Simcha) as he anticipates the long-awaited trip.

Finally, he is on the plane and buckled in, and the plane is about to take off.

He is in a state of Sasson; he is happy as he finally reaches his long-anticipated event.

He is on the plane and going to Eretz Yisroel. He is at peace with his happiness.

Suddenly, a member of the cabin crew approaches and says, “You are going to be upgraded in a few minutes to first class, so please get your things together.”

He has now reached the level of Sasson V’Simcha.

He has finally acquired what he had long-anticipated, as he is on the plane.

Now, he enters into a totally unexpected new state of Simcha, as he anticipates being upgraded to first class.

May Hashem give us Sasson very soon.

And may we all experience the newfound Simcha, which will immediately follow the Sasson; speedily and in our days.

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Rabbi Ron Yitzchok Eisenman is rav of Congregation Ahavas Israel in Passaic, New Jersey. His book, “The Elephant in the Room,” is available either directly from the author or at Amazon.com