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D’var Torah: Parashat Terumah

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In this week’s D’var Torah, the Chief Rabbi asks: What is the happiest month in the Hebrew calendar? 

What is the happiest month in the Hebrew calendar?

Most people will tell you it’s a simple question to answer; it’s Adar. After all, the Gemara in Masechat Ta’anit daf kaf tet, amud alef tells us, ‘Mi Shenichnas Adar Marbim B’Simcha’ – with the commencement of the month of Adar, our joy increases. Adar commences over this coming weekend, and so this very happy period of the year has arrived.

In the Gemara, Rashi gives a fascinating commentary on this teaching. He says, ‘Yemei Nisim Hayu l’Yisrael, Purim v’Pesach’ – Adar is the happiest month of the year because it contains the miraculous days for the people of Israel, of Purim and Pesach.

Now Purim makes a lot of sense, but why does Rashi include Pesach? What has it got to do with the month of Adar?

I’d like to suggest that Rashi doesn’t interpret ‘Mi Shenichnas Adar’ to mean that it is only the month of Adar which is the happiest time. Rather that the simcha, which accompanies gratification and fulfilment, should be with us at all times. We should nurture and build on the simcha we have now, and carry it through to the days that follow.

We know for example, that Tachanun is not recited on happy days. So during the month of Adar, when do we not recite Tachanun? Just Purim and Shushan Purim. In Nissan however, we don’t recite Tachanun for the entire month because it is such a festive month. This is what Rashi means; with the beginning of Adar, we start the process of simcha, it intensifies, and the joy increases into the month of Nissan.

And this is a lesson for life: joy should not only be associated with certain moments.

Rather, the simcha, satisfaction and gratification which accompanies accomplishment and achievement – should be with us throughout the year. We should strive to increase our joy through greater accomplishments as the months roll on.

So we have Adar, followed by Nissan, and then Iyar. Previously, the month of Iyar was only remembered for sad reasons in the Omer, but now we are fortunate that it includes Lag B’Omer, Yom Ha’atzmaut and Yom Yerushalayim; great days of festivity and celebration.

This year, during the month of Iyar, we’re looking forward to the seventieth anniversary of the establishment of the State of Israel. ‘Mi Shenichnas Adar’ teaches us to have joy, to build on it and to increase it; and may God bless us to have that joy as individuals, and also as a people, throughout the entire year.

Shabbat shalom.