As the Torah guides us, having a base-line joy is a basic part of healthy living and being a religious Jew. We are warned that when we lose our happiness the mechanism of Divine blessing ceases and curse can infiltrate into our midst.
The question arises, “when Adar enters, we increase our joy (Gemara Taanit 29),” what is this referring to?
When the Torah speaks about unique Simcha, like our joy on Sukkot “Zman Simchatenu”, what is its significance?
Let’s note that the Torah does not ever relate to Pesach as being a time of joy and only once by Shavuot. Three times that Torah uses the word Simcha connected to Sukkot. Sukkot is the culmination of two periods in the calendar, the Moadim and the Yomim Noraim. This comes to teach us that joy comes at the end of a process. After the hard physical labor of the agriculture cycle and after the demanding Teshuva period of Ellul and the high holidays comes a holiday in which we are filled with joy to celebrate our accomplishments.
Adar also comes at the end of season. To begin with, the month of Adar is the 12th (and 13th) and final month of the year. Adar is also the final month of winter. Nisan, the first month of the year, brings in the new, fresh spring season.
The joy of Adar is riding on the hard inner work we put in during the cold and rainy season. Long nights and colder weather outside give us the opportunity to turn inward and focus on personal and spiritual growth.
The Gemara in Taanit teaches us that rain, as opposed to dew, is a spiritual “barometer” for how we are faring in God’s eyes. If we are not worthy to receive rain, we simply won’t get it. When there are droughts in Israel, we take responsibility for lack of rain and decree days of teshuva and fasting so that we can mend our ways.
The winter in general is a time in which we should be growing. It’s a precious time to be learning Torah. Its a time to focus on our personal attributes and a time to focus on a quiet more intimate relationship with God.
After spiritual accomplishment and meaningful time well spent, we are naturally brought to joy. The simcha in Adar is an emotional expression of the inner joy we have after months of hard work.
I will never forget the joy I experienced on Purim when I was in Yeshiva. The energy in the room Purim night was explosive. Personally, I had just taught a class days before to fellow yeshiva bachorim on the topic of Mishloach Manot. My days and nights, prior to the shiur, were spent toiling over the “sugya” so I would not embarrass myself in front of my friends when teaching. When Purim came I was filled with joy, satisfaction and accomplishment that I had completed my mission.
There are many more layers of the Simcha of Adar, which we will discuss in further articles, but the bottom line of our message here is simple,
“No pain, No Simcha”