Adar Arrives, Happiness Increases”
This past week, we
celebrated Rosh Chodesh Adar, the Beginning of the Month of Adar.
In the middle of the cold winter (well, this year, it hasn’t been
that bad), CHAZAL
announced the principle that when this month begins, happiness should renew
itself for the Jewish People. The
simple explanation of this happiness is that it stems from the Holiday of Purim,
that celebrates the fact that in ancient Persia, the Jewish People was saved
from the genocidal plot of that Amaleki descendant, the wicked Haman.
Our weapons against Haman were the great heroes Queen Esther and
Mordechai HaYehudi, Mordechai the Jew.
But even greater than their heroism as individuals, was the fact that
they triggered in the Jewish People a renewed acceptance of the Torah, as we
read in the Megillah (Esther 9:27), “The Jews fulfilled and undertook upon
themselves and upon their descendants and upon all those associated with
them, etc .” Where these
fulfillments and undertakings are interpreted by CHAZAL as referring not
only to the laws of the new holiday, Purim, but also to the entire “Torah
She-B’al Peh,” the Oral
Tradition of the Talmud, that gives the full explanation and sets the
path of development of the “Torah She B’Ketav,” the Written
Law, that Moshe received at Sinai.
But there is another
Holiday closely identified with happiness, and indeed called the “Time of
our Happiness;” that is, of course, Sukkot.
The question has arisen as to the nature of this “happiness.”
Two approaches have been suggested, and both are true.
One is that it refers to the joy of the harvest, as Sukkot is called
“The Holiday of the Harvest.”
The second is that Sukkot follows hard upon Yom
Kippur, the “Day of Atonement,” the Holiest of Days, on which
one’s personal sins, and the sins of the nation are wiped away, if we have
repented, and we are given a new beginning in the Eyes of HaShem.
The model is the
original Yom Kippur. For RASHI
explains that the instructions for the Mishkan
were actually given, and the controlled explosion of enthusiasm that
occurred at the beginning of Parshat Terumah actually took place several
months after the debacle of the Golden Calf, described in Parshat Ki Tisa,
the Torah reading two weeks from this Shabbat.
This is an example of two principles at work.
First is “Ain Mukdam U-Meuchar BaTorah;” which states that strict
chronology is not necessarily followed in the narratives of the Torah, when
there is a good reason for it not to be followed.
A possible reason in this case is to emphasize the idea that for any
punishment that HaShem administers, He has first created the remedy; in this
case, the Mishkan.
Moshe’s reaction to
seeing the Jewish People worship the Golden Calf was to break the original
tablets containing the Ten Commandments.
HaShem’s reaction was no less harsh.
He told Moshe to tell the People (Shemot 33:3-4), “...for I will
not go up in your midst, for you are a stiff-necked People, lest I destroy
you on the way. When the People
heard this terrible news, they went into mourning, and they did not adorn
themselves with their ‘jewelry.’ ”
RASHI explains this “jewelry” as referring to the two spiritual
“crowns” the People received at Sinai, when they said (Shemot 24:7)
“NaAseh VeNishma,” “We will obey even before we fully understand.”
The chronology was that Moshe broke the Luchot on the 17th of Tammuz. And it wasn’t until the following Yom Kippur, four months in the future, that HaShem, finally “persuaded” by the prayers of Moshe, forgave the Jewish People, and allowed Moshe to deliver a new set of the “Aseret HaDibrot” to them. On that day, the Jewish People realized that they had been forgiven. Their reaction was pure joy, and that joy found expression in the outburst of generosity described by the Torah at the beginning of Parshat Terumah.
Thus we see that being
pure in the “Eyes of HaShem,” so to speak, is the essence of happiness,
from the perspective of Judaism. May
this new Month, which begins on such an auspicious note, be a harbinger of
future happiness for our People.
Rabbi Pinchas Frankel