It is Rosh Chodesh (the New Month of) Adar. The Adar we say “Mishenichnas Adar Marbim B’Simcha” (When Adar arrives we should INCREASE our joy.) The Gemara/Talmud discusses this in juxtoposition to the words of the Mishnah that state “Mishenichnas Av Mima’atin B’Simcha” (When the Month of Av arrives we should REDUCE our joy.)
Do you notice what the DEFAULT setting is???
In fact, when it comes to the month of Av, where we are suppose to reduce our joy, theTorah tells us the specific things we do or don’t do in order to reduce joy. However, for Adar, where we INCREASE our Joy….nothing specific. Just BE MORE JOYFUL. Be MORE of what is supposed to be our default setting.
But how can we possibly be JOYFUL TODAY, when we have been shown one more time how crazy the world is these days?
For the immediate families of the innocent vicitms of the heinous shooting in Florida, the Torah gives them precise instructions on mourinig (who, what, when, how). For the rest of us, we feel for their losses, we feel for the lives that could have been, we feel for the loss of morality in our world. AND we must still increase our joy. Still you and I ask, how can we do that, when the world is so crazy?
Yesterday I was listening to a talk given by my mentor, teacher and friend Esther Wein. She was talking about tthe significance of the straps of the tefilin, the phylacteries that Jewish men wear on their head and arm each weekday morning. This is very timely for our family, as my son will become a bar mitzvah just 2 weeks after Passover. So on March 22nd (my 51st gregorian calendar birthday) and 30 days before his 13th Jewish birthday. he will start wearing his tefillin daily!
Esther pointed out that when you look at a man wearing tefillin, the left strap appears to be on the left side of the head, and the right strap appears to be on the right side of the head. WHAT WE DONT IF WE ARE LOOKING AT THEIR FACE (ie: face value), is that “behind the scenes,” the straps are twisted into a knot that is placed at the back of the head. What is the message? Things are not as they seem. What looks like one thing is really the total opposite. The Purim story itself shows us this! And the Purim “story” is not a “story” and it is not something that “happened then,” but is a story that we read two times every Purim to REMIND us that things are not what they seem AND, that God, will use EVERYTHING, even the most troubling things for the ulitmate GOOD.
THIS is a FUNDAMENTAL principle of Judaism.
EMUNAH. A knowledge that we as humans cannot see the whole picture right now. One day there WILL be total clarity, but we are not there yet. Until then, we must do what we can to get there. We must bring LIGHT into the world – the LIGHT that there IS a moral compass, that there IS a proper way for humans to engage in this world, that there IS an Ultimate Benevolent Creator.
May this essay be a zechus/merit for the souls of the 17 innocent victims. May their memories be for a blessing.
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