Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Seudat Mitzva - Lavish Meal for mitzva

Rabbi Nachum of Chernobyl would strongly encourage the Jewish custom of conducting a seudat mitzva - a feast celebrating a mitzvah. Whenever he heard of a brit milah, a bar mitzva, or a celebration upon the completion of the study of a tractate in the Talmud, he would hasten to participate, and urge that the meal be as lavish as possible.

He related: "One year on Rosh Hashonah, when the fate of the Jewish People was to be decided, the prosecuting angel in the heavenly court, came with a huge load of sins, G-d forbid, which he placed on the scale. Angel Michoel, the supernal advocate of Israel, brought a load of mitzvot, but alas, these failed to tip the scales to the side of merit.

And so the defending angel argued before the Heavenly Court: "It is true that there are more sins than mitzvot, but the balance between them is not being gauged properly. When a Jew does a mitzvah, he does it with a joyous heart, elated at the opportunity to serve his Creator. His transgressions, on the other hand, occur at a moment of weakness, they are done without enthusiasm, and with a heart heavy with regret.

"Can you prove to us that this is indeed the case?", challenged the prosecuting angel.

"Certainly", said Michoel, the defending angel, "Observe, if you will, what happens when a Jew does a mitzva; he prepares a lavish feast, and invites his friends to come share in his joy in having merited to fulfill a Divine commandment. Now tell me, have you ever seen a Jew throw a party to celebrate the fact that he has transgressed the divine will....?

Thus, Rabbi Nochum of Chernobyl's affinity for celebrating a Mitzvah with a lavish meal.