Although Purim may be six weeks away, the advent of the month of Adar (Aleph) brings with it the signature quality of the month of Adar – Meshenichnas Adar Marbim B’Simcha– which is to rejoice! If we think about the reason for being B’Simcha, it clearly is a result of the Jewish People facing the peril of annihilation, and miraculously emerging unharmed and stronger than before.
To delve a bit deeper, we can try to imagine the thoughts and feelings of a typical Jewish person at that tumultuous period in history. When Haman’s threat became known, how much anxiety, how many sleepless nights, how much uncertainty tormented the Jews. Every waking moment was likely consumed with worry about planning and with the terror of not seeing any escape. Then, Hashem’s wondrous although hidden miracle occurred, the Jews were saved, Haman was destroyed and the Jewish people experienced a total turnabout of the situation. Try to envision the thoughts and feelings that came to the fore at that point. Much rejoicing, great relief and gratitude to Mordechai, Esther, and of course, Hashem.
A comparison of the anxiety and stress level of the earlier days to the joy and happiness of the days of salvation may yield a startling contrast. People tend to expend much more energy in worrying and panicking in the face of imminent danger, than they spend rejoicing and taking satisfaction when things turn out alright. Whereas, one constantly dreams of a day that will bring salvation from his troubles, once that salvation actually arrives, the new profoundly positive reality begins to be taken for granted within a very short time. Feelings of simcha tend to be short lived and not that intense, while misery and foreboding lingers and deepens.
This dichotomy of feelings is present not only for major events. It would be worthwhile to self-reflect and chart one’s own ‘Simcha Scale.’ How long and how intensely are your thoughts and feelings preoccupied by difficulties and sad news, and how much do you maintain focus and depth of feelings about positive events and good news? In this newsletter we celebrate with four school families celebrating simchas this weekend. How much are we dwelling on feeling the waves of joy and nachas that should be engulfing us as we share our friends’ and neighbors’ good fortune? What message and attitude are we giving our children? Have we learned to deeply appreciate all the good things Hashem has blessed us with, or do we find the one or two things not going right, and think and speak mainly about that? Do we point out to our children when things go right, or do we allow them to wallow in self-pity and sadness when things go wrong?
Let the month(s) of Simcha help us redirect our thoughts and feelings to a greater, more constant and deeper appreciation of all the good things in our life, all the blessings Hashem has bestowed upon us. May we and our children learn to be optimistic and to be among those who constantly fulfill the dictum which is found in the daily praise of thanksgiving in Shacharis: … עִבְדוּ אֶת ה’ בְּשִׂמְחָה “Serve Hashem with Joy… (Tehilim 100:2)
Best wishes for a Happy Shabbos and a Joy-Filled Adar!
Rabbi Kalman Baumann