In the Presence of Simcha by Joseph Jarashow

(2006/5766) The theme of Simcha recurs throughout Parshat
Re’eh.  The notion of Simcha is first introduced regarding
Korbanot, which must be eaten in Yerushalayim with
one’s family in a festive manner.  Similarly, Parshat Re’eh
delivers the commandment of Maaser Sheini, which must
also be eaten BeSimcha in Yerushalayim.  The Parsha
concludes with the Chiyuv to rejoice on the Shalosh
Rav Soloveitchik points out that there is a
connection between Simcha and being “Lifnei Hashem,”
in the presence of Hashem.  The Chiyuv of Simcha is
triggered when one is in the presence of HaKadosh                                                              Baruch Hu.  Thus, there is an obligation of Simcha on the
Shalosh Regalim and when bringing Korbanot and Maaser
Sheini, because all three take place in Yerushalayim, in
presence of Hashem.  However, Simcha does not only stem
from being in close physical proximity to the Shechinah; the
Chiyuv of Simcha also exists when we are spiritually close to
Hashem.  For example, because we are spiritually close to
Hashem on Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, there is an
element of Simcha on those days, as well (as the Rambam
states in Hilchot Chanukah).
Although Halacha indicates that the degree of
Simcha required is equivalent on all of the Regalim, this does
not seem to be true from the Pesukim.  The Torah does not
even explicitly mention an aspect of Simcha on Pesach, and
mentions the word Simcha only once regarding Shavuot.  On
Sukkot, however, we are emphatically commanded to
rejoice, a point highlighted by the words “VeHayita Ach
Sameiach,” “and you shall be exceedingly happy” (16:15).  In
addition, in Parshat Emor, the Torah again commands us to
rejoice on Sukkot.  Why is it that Sukkot seems to have a
greater degree of Simcha than the other Regalim?
Rav Zvi Sobolofsky answers this question based on
the Rav’s connection of Simcha to being Lifnei Hashem.  As                                              mentioned above, the Yamim Noraim bring us spiritually closer
to Hashem.  In fact, the Rambam writes (in the seventh
chapter of Hilchot Teshuva) that before performing Teshuvah
on the Yamim Noraim, we are extremely distant from Hashem. 
Once we perform Teshuvah, however, Hashem is directly in
our presence.  Because we are so close to Him after the
Yamim Noraim, and being close to Hashem triggers the Chiyuv
of Simcha, the holiday of Sukkot, which immediately follows
the Yamim Noraim, carries a stronger level of Simcha.
May we all merit to achieve Teshuvah, thereby drawing
ourselves spiritually closer to Hashem, and to become close to
Him in a physical sense as well with the rebuilding of the Beit
HaMikdash BiMeheirah BeYameinu.

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