Beryl’s family is on shlichus in South America. For the first time, they were all going to spend the month of Tishrei in Crown Heights. They arrived a few days before Rosh HaShanah, and Beryl spent most of the first day in 770. Many things were going on, and he was very excited to be part of it all.

After davening, Beryl’s father stood talking to another shliach while Beryl looked around at all the people. A jolly looking chassid with a booming voice caught his attention. “Simchos Shabbos v’Yom Tov. Please contribute so every family can have festive meals and a happy holiday.” Beryl watched as the man collected tzedakah and thanked the people, telling them how wonderful it is for every family to have enough for Yom Tov.

On their way home, Beryl asked his father about the “Simchos Shabbos v’Yom Tov man.” Beryl’s father smiled as he thought back to his own childhood in Crown Heights. “That’s part of the 770 scene,” he told Beryl.

“I was wondering why he kept telling everyone how important it is that every family have fish, meat, wine and everything else for Yom Tov.” Beryl said. “If it was before Sukkos, Pesach or Shavuos, I could understand. Those are happy holidays when we have festive meals. But now, it’s right before Rosh HaShanah, the Day of Judgment! Of course, we have to eat and drink, but it just doesn’t seem right to be so concerned with food on the day that a person is being judged.”

“You’re making a mistake there, Beryl,” his father said. “True, Rosh HaShanah is a very serious day, but while we’re serious, we should also be happy and festive.”

“Serious and happy together?” asked Beryl.

“Yes. The prophet tells the people about Rosh HaShanah: ‘Eat tasty foods and drink sweet beverages, for the rejoicing of G‑d is your strength.’ We are happy to be His chosen people, and confident that He will bless us with a good year. So it’s important to rejoice on Rosh HaShanah and have festive meals.”

(Adapted from Sichos Shabbos Parshas Nitzavim-Vayeilech, 5750;
Sichos Shabbos Parshas Haazinu, 5751)