An Adar Letter to the Nitzotzos Community from our Mashpia, Rav Burg
Dear Nitztzos Commmunity,
A gutten Chodesh Adar!
When Adar comes in we increase in joy.
Why is this?
What does it mean to increase joy? If we are happy then we are happy. Can we simply choose to be happier?
The Hebrew name Adar is related to the word “adir,” which means strength and power. Moshe Rabbeinu was born and died in the month of Adar which is fitting because we know that Moshe was called an "adir." Indeed Haman was excited that his lottery fell out in Adar because he knew that it was the month when Jews would have the mazal of Moshe Rabbeinu's death but he did not know that it was also the month when Moshe was born. Why didn't Haman know when Moshe Rabbienu was born? What is the connection between strength and increased joy in this month?
The Gemara tells us (Pesachim 110a), “Melech poretz geder — a king may break down fences to make a path.” The king is given the power to break through the boundaries of private property as a shortcut on the way to his destination. Everything in halacha also reflects a hashkafa, a way of seeing the world. Hashem, our infinite King, has no boundaries or limitations. There is no "private property" in this world and he can traverse wherever he wishes.
“The poretz (the one who breaks through) is gone up before them” (Michah 2:13). Mashiach is referred to as a poretz, a boundary breaker. Mashiach is descended from the son of Yehuda and Tamar, whose name was also Peretz. Mashiach, emulating Hashems ways, will break the boundaries of this world and usher us into the World to Come.
And what can we do to bring Mashiach? The Rebbe Rashab (Rabbi Sholom Dovber, the fifth Lubavitcher Rebbe) paraphrased the aforementioned Gemara and said: “simcha poretz geder”—joy breaks through boundaries."
How does joy break down boundaries? What is the connection between Mashiach, simcha and breaking boundaries?
Joy is not the same thing as happiness. Happiness is temporary. Joy is lasting. Happiness is a condition. When we receive a gift we are happy. When we suffer a loss we are sad. Joy has nothing to do with a particular condition. It is a state of seeing the world. When we trust Hashem that His plan is better than ours, it no longer matters what happens to us, we can remain joyful. This does not mean that we don't mourn the loss of a loved one for example. It does however mean that even in our state of mourning we don't fall into a depression because we are still in a state of joy. Joy is so much more than having a smile on your face. It is the faith that everything is exactly as it should be. Put differently, joy is the ultimate act of submission. We lose joy when we attempt to be in control. Things will never go exactly as we want them to. If it were up to us we would all have wealth, we would all have the perfect shidduch, excellent children etc... Life is not this way. It is not supposed to be. Our desire to control things that are beyond our control is where joy goes to die. Submitting ourselves to God's plan is what brings us joy.
Just as God does not have any boundaries, there is no place where He is limited, so too when we experience joy by submitting ourselves to God's plan do we leave the finite world of boundaries. We are no longer negatively impacted by the boundaries of wealth, challenges and insufficiency. Everything is exactly as it should be.
This middah of submission ushers in the era of Mashiach. The world, the ego, proclaim "I am." Our Godly soul echoes the words of Moshe Rabbeinu who said "What are we?" Mashiach cannot come into a place where he is not welcome. Where God is not welcome. Ego takes up space. It leaves no room for others. As long as we think that our plan is right and God got it wrong we have not created a place where God could feel comfortable in this world. When we submit ourselves to God, when we experience true joy, we have broken down the boundaries of the ego and dwell within the space of the infinite.
Who is strong? He who has conquered his desires. True strength is not dominance over another. It is dominance over our own ego. Thus Adar means the strength that comes from increasing our emunah in Hashem and His plan, leaving the finite world of our own ego and living with the true joy that brings Mashiach. We can increase joy by increasing our awareness of Hashem in this world.
The zodiac for the month of Adar is the fish. Fish represent fertility, and for that reason are seen as a sign of blessing and fruitfulness. Haman, as a member of Amalek, lived in the world of the finite and therefore saw Adar as the month where Moshe died. His desire to destroy Klal Yisrael could not come to fruition. Jews live with the notion of the infinite and therefore we see bracha in this world. For Jews blessings come as if from nowhere. Redemption happens in the blink of an eye. We continue to be fruitful in a world that has been consistently antisemitic because we are not restricted by the ordinary boundaries of the world. For us Adar is the month when Moshe Rabbeinu is born.
Some say that Adar stands for aleph dar. The time when Hashem, the alupho shel olam, is brought to dar, to dwell in this world. This is our Jewish mission. To build for Hashem a dwelling place in our world. May we merit to increase our strength through increasing our humility and submission to God Almighty and experience the ultimate joy as we usher in the redemption of Mashiach speedily in our days.