by Reb Gutman Locks
Which is the greater sin: to drink water on Yom Kippur or to not be happy on Succot?
It is mid-afternoon on a hot Yom Kippur. You are waiting for the noon services to finally begin, and you are very thirsty. Someone walks up to you and offers you a glass of ice-cold water. What do you say? You would probably say, “Are you nuts? Drink on Yom Kippur? No way!” Even if he offered you $100 to drink it, still you would not do so.
But you know, there is a time when you are allowed to drink on Yom Kippur. That is when you are sick, or if you drink just a tiny bit. But still, you are not sick and you are going to fulfill this most important mitzvah. So you do not drink.
But how do we even know that it is forbidden to drink on Yom Kippur? The Torah only tells us to “afflict” ourselves on this day. Perhaps afflict means to hit ourselves with straps, or to lie down on cactus plants? No. The sages explain that “to afflict ourselves” means that on this day we should abstain from eating, drinking, bathing, and so on.
We learn that it is forbidden to drink on Yom Kippur from the rabbis and not directly from the Torah. Still, we would never even dream of drinking on Yom Kippur.
And how do we know not to be sad during the seven days of Succot? The Torah itself says, “And you shall rejoice for (these) seven days.” And there is never an excuse when you are allowed to be sad on Succot, not even the tiniest bit.
Clearly, we see that as important as it is not to drink on Yom Kippur, it is even more important not to be sad on Succot!
Have a happy holiday—it’s the mitzvah.
[i] “From The Old City”