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Rabbi Lisa's Message

February, 7 2024

Mishenichnas Adar, marbim b’simcha! When the Hebrew month of Adar enters, joy is increased. 

Okay, get ready for an increase in joy, because the Hebrew month of Adar begins tomorrow night at sundown. How do we understand this idea, that Adar is a joyful month?

What if the backdrop of joy does not match our felt experience? It is indeed a dark time–a time of war and division. We feel this in the world at large. In particular we feel the intense pain and deep conflict in Israel-Gaza. This same conflict is dividing the Jewish community and our friendships and families. 

Can we move toward joy in a time like this?

From a mental health perspective, being told to feel or experience something in a certain way is not always helpful, and can at times be quite harmful. What happens when there is personal dissonance–when our insides don’t match the communal or societal pressures of the Jewish calendar cycle?

What happens when Adar enters during a time of war. How do we access or experience joy then?

Perhaps the opposite is true for us. We may want to feel joy, but can’t access it. The level of stress we are experiencing as humans is clearly taking a toll. We may want a way out of the darkness and turmoil. Maybe having the reminder and the nudge that Adar is entering reorients us? Perhaps trusting the rhythm of the Jewish calendar may bring unknown transformation and healing? While we may not feel joy at the moment, is there something nourishing during the month of Adar that can serve as an emotional reset? 

Someone recently said, “It’s nice to know with the coming of Adar that joy does exist . . . somewhere.” 

Essentially Adar reveals the miracle of joy. Maybe joy is always present and during this time of year, it simply increases, multiplies. We may begin to feel inklings of that joy as the weather changes. Yes it has been chilly and rainy, yet we notice that the light lingers longer. Buds are beginning to appear. Blossoms have begun to pop. JOY! Nature shows us how seasons change, newness enters, and the inherent joy of the natural world increases all around us. 

Is all of that enough to change how we feel about the events in the world around us? A world that is inflamed and in distress? 

Mishenichnas Adar, marbim b’simcha! When the Hebrew month of Adar enters, joy is increased. Whether or not we feel it, or want to feel it, or should feel it, joy does exist, somewhere. Maybe it’s small moments. A blossom. The light lingering just a little longer. 

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