An often-quoted line, usually preceded by the words "The Sages said", is:

"En simchah ella be-bassar ve-yayin -- There is no rejoicing except with meat and wine."

I can't find it worded this way in the Sources, but a likely origin is Pesachim 109a:

It was taught [in a baraita that] Rabbi Yehuda ben Beteira says: When the Temple is standing, rejoicing is only through [the eating of sacrificial] meat, as it is stated: “And you shall sacrifice peace-offerings and you shall eat there and you shall rejoice before the Lord your God” (Deuteronomy 27:7). And now that the Temple is not standing [and one cannot eat sacrificial meat, he can fulfill the mitzva of] rejoicing [on a Festival] only by [drinking] wine, as it is stated: “And wine that gladdens the heart of man” (Psalms 104:15).

The Rambam [Hilchot Yom Tov 6:17-18] states (in part)

On the ... holidays, a person is obligated to be happy and in good spirits ... Children should be given roasted seeds, nuts, and sweets. For women, one should buy attractive clothes and jewelry according to one's financial capacity. Men should eat meat and drink wine, for there is no happiness without partaking of meat, nor is there happiness without partaking of wine.

I personally don't like either. Is it the halacha that even someone who does not like meat and wine must consume them on Yom Tov?


2 Answers 2


(adapted from R' Josh Flug's YUTorah article "The Mitzvah of Simchat Yom Tov")

The Beit Yosef (Orach Chaim 529:5) questions the Rambam's assertion that one must eat meat on Yom Tov (still leaves in wine though):

ויש לתמוה על הרמב"ם למה הצריך שיאכלו בשר וישתו יין דהא בברייתא קתני דבזמן הזה אין שמחה אלא ביין ומשמע דביין סגי בלא בשר:

One can wonder why did the Rambam say one must eat meat and drink wine? Since the baraisa teaches 'there's only joy through wine' which implies that with wine is enough, no need for meat

The Shaagas Aryeh (1695-1785) however writes (siman 65) that Rambam is indeed of the opinion that the mitzvah of simchat Yom Tov is subjective and one can fulfill the mitzvah with whatever brings happiness to oneself.


THe root of this good question is to decide what's to be enjoyed on Yom Tov - the soul or the body, as it says חציו לה' וחציו לנו (half to G-d and half for us) Psochim 68b:

"דתניא, רבי אליעזר אומר: אין לו לאדם ביום טוב אלא או אוכל ושותה או יושב ושונה. רבי יהושע אומר: חלקהו, חציו לאכילה ושתייה וחציו לבית המדרש. ואמר רבי יוחנן: ושניהם מקרא אחד דרשו, כתוב אחד אומר (דברים טז) עצרת לה' אלוקיך, וכתוב אחד אומר (במדבר כט) עצרת תהיה לכם. רבי אליעזר סבר: או כולו לה' או כולו לכם. ורבי יהושע סבר: חלקהו, חציו לה' וחציו לכם".

For it was taught in a baraita that these two tanna’im disagreed about this matter: Rabbi Eliezer says: A person has nothing but to choose on a Festival; he either eats and drinks or sits and learns the entire day, but there is no specific mitzva to eat on the Festival. Rabbi Yehoshua, on the other hand, says: Divide the day, half of it for eating and drinking and half of it for the study hall, for he holds that eating and drinking are obligatory on the Festival.

Some follow the former - חציו לה' and therefore do what the soul enjoys "de-jure" (as stated by the sages), drinking and eating meat even if they don't like it, some follow חציו לנו - and enjoy the body, and replace the food they don't like with foods they do.

Some hold that as the person's table represents the Altar, the meat and the wine represent the Yom Tov sacrifices before Hashem.

If I remember right, most Poskim follow the second (not obligating) but some follow the first (yours truly). I drink a glass of wine (which I don't like so much) with meat to specifically perform "אין שמחה אלא בבשר ויין".

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