As it says in our holy books, " Mishenichnas Adar Marbim B’Simcha." This means, "When Adar begins let joy increase! (Babylonian Talmud)" Now you might be thinking, "How can I just turn on the joy switch? I'm not a machine!" I'm with you. According to Rabbi Jill Hammer, "The message of Adar is not to cover up our true feelings with forced merriment but to recognize the double edge that lies under all reality." Life is full of good and bad times, but Adar is here to remind us that even then, happiness is possible. Kierkegaard once wrote: “It takes moral courage to grieve; it takes religious courage to rejoice.” Part of what makes the Jewish people the Jewish people is our ability to find joy despite communal and personal tragedy. It's the greatest medicine that G!d has given us. Let's take it!
The organ of the month is the spleen, in Hebrew t'chol, which is considered "cold and dry" as is the element of Earth (chol in Hebrew means sand), the lowest and densest of the elements. As such, an imbalance of earth can lead to depression. The sadder one is, the more one's personality is dominated by inner inertia which is rooted in the element of Earth giving rise to laziness, indifference and depression. And yet.... even in the darkness of the spleen, which produces black bile, there is a seed of hope! The letters of black humor , מרה שחורה, permute to spell happy thought, הרהור שמח. This month we are encouraged to find holiness in the mundane... though with caution and not in excess. As we read in Yoma, " You shall live--- and not die --- by them (them being mitzvahs)." Sometimes when we get excited about something, we dive deep without taking the time to swim on the surface. This holds true for work, relationships, and our commitment to Judaism. As we learn from Rebbe Nachman, " Over stringency in lifestyle, in devotion, and indeed all areas of life, leads to depression...." Our spleens get exhausted!! This Adar let's turn our attention towards our spleen and move slowly- the way she likes it- so that we can transform that which drowns us into that which may save us!!!
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