The first section of the Code of Jewish Law, Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayim, concludes1 with the laws concerning the 14th and 15th day of Adar I (an event that occurs during a Jewish leap year, when there are two months of Adar, Adar I and Adar II).

The Rama concludes this section thusly: “Some are of the opinion that one is obligated to feast and rejoice on the 14th of Adar I (known as PurimKatan). This is not our custom. Nevertheless, one should eat somewhat more than usual, in order to fulfill his obligation according to those who are stringent. ‘And he who is glad of heart, feasts constantly.’”2

Our Rabbis3 explain that the Rama’s concluding words of Orach Chayim are similar to his opening words: The Rama begins with the words, “I place G‑d before me constantly,”4 and he concludes with, “And he who is glad of heart, feasts constantly.” These two “constants” correspond to the daily, or “constant,” sacrificial Tamid offerings “offered twice daily, constantly.”5

One of the reasons for the Rama’s two “constants” is the following: Orach Chayim consists of the commandments and laws that a Jew is to perform on a daily basis and throughout the day — from the moment he awakens until he goes to sleep at night — as well as those laws that relate to specific times of the day or night, or specific times of the year.

However, the beginning of Orach Chayim and its conclusion consist of the two “constants” whose obligation is constant and ongoing — throughout all the days of a person’s life, each and every hour of every day of all one’s years, constantly. This is why one “constant” is placed at the very outset and beginning of Orach Chayim and the other “constant” is placed at the conclusion and end of Orach Chayim:

The beginning of Shulchan Aruch (Orach Chayim) “I place G‑d before me constantly,” is the aspect of Divine reverence, as the Rama states at the beginning of Shulchan Aruch at length: “When a person takes to heart that the Great King, the A-lmighty, whose glory fills heaven and earth, stands over him and observes his actions... he will immediately be imbued with a feeling of reverence and humility, and constantly have a sense of shame before Him.” By contrast, the conclusion of Orach Chayim, “And he who is glad of heart, feasts constantly,” is the aspect of joy.

Both reverence and joy of G‑d are to subsist within the person “constantly,” at all times: every spiritual service a Jew performs should be permeated with the feeling of reverence and humility before Him, as well as with joy. As the verses state, “Serve G‑d with reverence,”6 “Serve G‑d with joy.”7

Why, however, is one of these two “constants” placed at the very end of Orach Chayim? Just as “placing G‑d before oneself constantly” — reverence and humility before G‑d — is so fundamental and crucial to one’s service that its place is at the very beginning of Orach Chayim, shouldn’t this apply as well to the equally fundamental and crucial principle of serving G‑d with joy — “And he who is glad of heart, feasts constantly.” Why is this quotation found at the very end of Orach Chayim rather than at its beginning?

In point of fact, the two “constants” mentioned by the Rama at the beginning and conclusion of Orach Chayim are not necessarily meant as the two characteristics that merely serve as fragments of the person’s observance of Jewish law. Rather, they serve as an introduction to what one should do prior to one’s fulfilling the laws of Shulchan Aruch and finally what one should do after one has fulfilled these laws:

Before a Jew even begins his service of observing Torah and mitzvos it is necessary that he accept the yoke of G‑d’s Divine kingdom — “I place G‑d before me constantly.” Or as our Sages express this thought:8 “One should first accept upon himself the yoke of the heavenly kingdom, after which he accepts upon himself the yoke of the mitzvos.”

Acceptance of the Divine yoke is already in a revealed state (or at least should be in a revealed state) before the person actually begins his performance of Torah and mitzvos. For once the person is already immersed in the actual performance of mitzvos, he does not palpably feel the state of acceptance of the Divine yoke but the acceptance of the yoke of mitzvos — to veritably fulfill the decrees and commands of the King.

Thereafter, at the conclusion (and following) one’s actual service of Torah and mitzvos, one is suffused with the feeling of “And he who is glad of heart, feasts constantly”: After having concluded his Divine service, a Jew is rewarded with the joy that comes from having fulfilled this service, thereby becoming attached and united with G‑d.

This degree of palpable and revealed joy can only come after the conclusion of one’s spiritual service:

Although a person may perform his actual service of Torah and mitzvos with joy, when a person is occupied with his actual service of Torah and mitzvos, he cannot be entirely permeated with this feeling. For he is then in the midst of his service — a service that requires that the preeminent feeling be one of reverence, fear and awe of G‑d. Only after he has completed his service is one’s joy fully revealed in its full force, permeating every fiber of his being.

Based on Likkutei Sichos, Vol. XXVI, pp. 209-214.