The Longest Ray
Mishenichnas Adar Marbim b’Simcha: entering Adar with joy increases the joy of the world. What bombast from the rabbis! Should we take this declaration seriously? Why Adar? Because it is the final month of the spiritual year, centering upon the holiday of Purim and anticipating Nisan which centers upon Pesach. Purim splays wild excesses about our nature—dangerous, uncontrolled. While anti-Semitism was still de rigueur in ancient Persia, the whole song of Purim impishly mocks Haman’s eliminationist scheme. How can we find G-dliness vis-à-vis genocidal intent? Abject fear is overcome through confidence in G-d. This holy self-esteem armours us. The joy, of course, is not ours to increase; by adhering to G-d’s joy in the world, we transcend ourselves. Joy: add here! If we sign off our year with joy, this joy promises to pulsate throughout the coming year. The face we wear as we exit one room is likely to be the face that enters the next room.
Nisan marks the first month of our nationhood, whereas Tishrei marks the first month of humanity’s creation. We know that we are commanded by G-d in Tishrei to celebrate Sukkot with majestic joy. Does this joy wane? Or will it sustain as we follow the seasons from fall through winter and emerge into redemptive springtime at the end of Adar? Surefooted we have embraced the dark slant of the sun’s autumnal rays, secure in the knowledge that latent light will be the harbinger of brighter times. This parallels our attitude of basic trust in G-d’s order: “There was evening and there was morning” (Bereishit 1:5). Sunset’s onset allows for clear contemplation anticipating our fulfilment of mitzvot in daylight. In Jewish time, fading rays begin our every day, and similarly they begin our calendar year. If we can sustain joy and laughter through the first half of our calendar, the darker half, why not reverberate them into z’man cheiruteinu, the season of our liberation? And from here to the brilliance of the summertime solstice, through Shavuot with its cobalt blue skies opening eyes to Sinai’s prize (the definition of desert is cloudlessness), and forward through the equinox portal of Rosh HaShanah and once more to Sukkot—joy of creation into joy of nation into joy of creation. From the universal to the particular and back to the universal, joy of self and joy of all. We slingshot our simcha around the world as our world boomerangs around the sun. What a beautiful teaching of Judaism: to live each day in the happy equipoise of G-d’s Presence. Chag Purim Sameach v’Chag HaMatzot Sameach.