Fear and Joy. Surely it is difficult for these two conflicting if not contradictory emotions to exist simultaneously. While human beings constantly struggle with conflicting emotions Judaism separates differing emotions into separate days. Thus the fear griping the Jewish people during the time of Haman is observed on the 13 th of Adar with the 14 th (or 15 th ) reserved for celebration. The festive mood accompanying re-receiving the Torah and the granting of forgiveness -events that occurred on Yom Kippur - is celebrated on the 9 th of Tishrei, where we are mandated to eat a festive meal, whereas the 10 th of Tishrei is a day of serious introspection. Similarly in modern times the too many tragedies that the state of Israel has endured are commemorated on the 4 th of Iyar and the 5 th is a day of celebration and thanksgiving to G-d for this wonderful opportunity to build a Jewish state. One would thus expect the separating of the moods of fear and joy. Yom Tov would seem to lose some of its lustre if fear is to be mixed in.
The Torah, however, understands that true joy can only be experienced if accompanied with fear of the Divine. "You shall eat before the G-d your Lord in the place that he will choose as dedicated to His name; the second tithe of your grain wine and oil.so that you will learn to fear G-d for all times." (14:23). Four years out of seven of the Jewish farmer had to bring just under 10% of his produce Jerusalem and eat it there. This eating was meant to instil fear of G-d in the Israeli farmer (kibbutznick?) Yet a scant three verses later the Torah tells us that "eat it there before your Lord, so that you and your family will be able to rejoice".
Judaism has always equated joy with being in the presence of G-d. "And you shall rejoice before G-d for seven days" (Leviticus 2340). Feeling the Divine presence and knowing that G-d is the ultimate ruler of this world can only bring joy. Feeling the Shechinah is the ultimate in happiness. Many are unfortunately unable to feel the divine presence even as they punctiliously perform the mitzvoth of the Torah. But for those who do, it is a joy unmatched. At the same time being in the presence of G-d is the key to fearing G-d. If there are no atheists in the foxhole then surly there are none in the presence of G-d. When one comes "face to face" with G-d - and we all will sooner or later - with the "great, mighty and awesome G-d" how can one not be full of fear? Such feelings too are not easy to come by. As he lay on his deathbed surrounded by his students, the future leaders of the Jewish people, Rav Yochanan ben Zachai blessed them that they should fear G-d as much as they do man. When questioned over this rather obvious and understated demand he answered "if only". If only we would truly fear G-d what a different world this would be. Fear of G-d must motivate us to higher and higher spiritual levels bringing us greater and greater happiness. It is fear of G-d which is the key to true happiness.
To feel the power the majesty the grandeur of the Creator - to be awestruck by His creation - is a feeling of great fear and joy. The Jewish farmer must come to Jerusalem the place where the Divine presence rests - to be inspired, to be "frightened" and to experience joy. Unfortunately yet understandably there is much fear in Jerusalem today. May the day speedily arrive when the only fear in Jerusalem will be that of G-d, bringing with it joy for all. Shabbat Shalom.