Adar: Be Happy!
It was 1997 when Billie Bob Harrell Jr.’s struggles were finally over. After winning $30 million in the lottery, he quit his job at Home Depot, took his family on a Hawaiian vacation, bought gifts for his family and friends, and donated massive sums to charity. Despite his low profile, level-headedness, and charitable lifestyle, it wasn’t long before his marriage broke down. Shortly before he shot himself in the head, he told his financial advisor, ‘Winning the lottery was the worst thing that ever happened to me.’
Disturbing as it is, this story is unfortunately none too rare. Common consensus tells us that human life is transient, just a momentary flash amidst the realms of time, so we should, ‘Eat, drink and be merry for tomorrow we will die’.
Yet somehow this does not ring true. Status, wealth, thrills, and possessions, glitter invitingly in our vision, promising a happiness and satisfaction hitherto unfelt. Yet once attained, the feeling is merely fleeting, and the quest for happiness remains more elusive than ever. It is no coincidence that the people who seem to have the most are also the ones who are so obviously still searching. The wealth and fame which should be setting them up for the utmost happiness instead seem to spell their destruction and downfall.
Despite all of this, in the month of Adar, we are instructed to be happy. ‘Mishenichnas adar marbim besimcha’ – ‘When Adar comes, we increase our happiness’. If each of us are commanded to be happy, we must all be capable of happiness, despite and notwithstanding our external factors. Indeed, the true happiness that the torah speaks about is not the pulse-racing, breath-taking, blood-rushing thrill that peaks and then disappears in response to external factors. Instead, the secret to true happiness lies within the deep sense of satisfaction that is felt when we are in line with our purpose. The happiness we feel when we are doing what we were created to do outlasts even the biggest of thrills, and it is one that can be tapped into at any time.
As Jews, we sometimes forget that we are more than our bodies. Each of us has a soul inside of us, a spark of G-dliness originating from G-d Himself. Our purpose in life is to nourish this soul and to reconnect it to its G-dly source during its presence on the physical earth. And when we invest the effort to do this, we experience an intense happiness.
Perhaps that is why we find the Hebrew word ‘Adir’ which means strength, within the name Adar. Because true happiness is not easy to come by; it cannot be acquired by physical factors. Instead, it is an internal state which can only be accessed by turning deep into oneself and satisfying our spiritual desires. And although it is not easy, it is also what will bring us the deepest satisfaction and joy. We are also told that Adar is a month where our personal barriers to holiness are easier to overcome. And therefore, by definition, it is also the month of greatest joy, as we become closer and more connected to G-D.
The zodiac sign for this month is the Pisces – a pair of fish. Fish are a species that is constantly within their source – water. We are told that because of this, they are protected from the evil eye. We too can choose to live constantly within our source. ‘Torat Elokim Chayim’ – the Torah of Hashem keeps us alive, and without it, we would not exist. And when we recognize that and choose to connect to and surround ourselves totally with the Torah, we cannot be touched by the evil eye, and it is then that miracles occur. This is what the evil Haman failed to remember; that when we are connected to our source, nobody can do us any harm.
May we all merit to connect to the special holiness that this month brings so that we can merit to rejoice with a שִׂמְחָה שֶׁאֵין לָהּ קֵץ וְתַכְלִית – a happiness that has no end.