February 22, 2019

Making More Joy

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What is the source of all this Joy in Adar?

Adar is the month when we tap into the joy of life the deepest ways. The Talmud teaches, Mi’shenichnas Adar, Marbim b’Simcha, which we can translate as “when Adar arrives, we increase joy.” But really the root word  רַבִּים means many. So when Adar arrives we can also read this as “when Adar arrives we multiply — with simcha, when Adar arrives we multiply — with joy.” In other words we celebrate the growth of the Jewish people with joy.

Well you might ask, don’t we always welcome the birth of Jewish babies with simcha? Is there a time that we are not going to welcome them with simcha?

Perhaps what this teaches specifically is that there is a special joy added onto the regular joy. Marbim. Additional joy.

All months have a uniqueness – Adar is connected to joy

What might be the additional joy of a baby born in Adar?

It could be because of the decree recorded in the story of Esther declaring a decimation of the Jews was in this month. The decree to end the Jewish people of Ancient Persia forever was issued in Adar. But instead of Adar being the yahrzeit for the Jews of Persia, it stands as a testament to the miracle that transpired. The Jewish people’s prayers and teshuva; the selfless actions of a woman not afraid to risk her life revealing who she was; her standing for the Jewish right to self defense in the face of such the oncoming threat; created the miracle we know of as Purim.

The miracle and joy of Purim came about through the actions of a people who recognized their dependence on Hashem. That they, and their future entirely depend not on their own independence, but on their total dependence on Hashem giving strength to their actions. Esther’s example of self-sacrifice, bravery, and concern for the fate of others was the vehicle for salvation and the harbinger of joyous celebration we now know as Purim.

Experiencing the joy

So this month of Joy could be said to encompass two intertwined ideas; we recognize that our continued existence comes from the desire to fulfill Hashem’s work in this world, and that we must be willing to do the work with a measure of joy, both when in comes to us in ease, and when it comes to us in peril.

This year we have two months due to the Jewish leap year, so I wish your a double portion of Adar joy.

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Rabbi Yonah is the co-founder of Pico Shul and director of Shabbat Tent.