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Tuesday
Mar142017

THE POWER OF HAPPINESS

Dear Reader sh’yichyeh,

The month of Adar is in full swing. Even though we already celebrated Purim, the Simcha of Adar is still supposed to get stronger from day to day.

As we are still under the influence of Purim (pun intended), I would like to start with a “Purim-style” story:

There was once a Chassid who lived in a very non-Chassidic town. During the month of Adar, he was joyous, but he did not feel that his neighbors were really getting into the spirit of joy. It was the opposite in the month of mourning, the month of Menachem Av. While everyone was mourning and acting sad and depressed, this Chassid seemed to be joyous. Even on Tisha B’Av the Chassid acted in an upbeat way.

When one of his neighbors asked him how he can be so happy during this time of mourning, the Chassid replied that the way he understands the Gemara, one is supposed to be more joyous on the 9th of Av than on Purim! Seeing the shocked faces of those assembled, our mischievous Chassid explained: Chazal tell us that when the month of Adar arrives we must add in joy. They also tell us that when we reach the month of Av we should diminish our joy. It is very clear, continued the chassid, that every day from Rosh Chodesh Adar until Rosh Chodesh Av, about 150 days, you are supposed to add in joy.

Purim is only the fourteenth day on the journey of upward joy. Tish B’Av is only nine days into the descent after reaching the climax of 150 days. If so, it is equivalent to the joy on day 111 which is so much greater than the joy of day 14…

When I was doing the research to write this article, I was sure that there would be many HaYom Yoms, especially in the month of Adar, that speak about the Avoda of Simcha. Yet, I was surprised to see that there is only one HaYom Yom, and not in the month of Adar, that speaks about the power of serving Hashem with simcha!

The only time Simcha is mentioned in the HaYom Yom is in the entry for Shmini Atzeres: “Shmini Atzeres and Rosh Hashanah are similar in terms of certain mystical intentions (kavanos) and Supernal Unifications (yichudim).On Rosh Hashanah, however, they are framed in terms of ascent, whereas on Shmini Atzeres, the thrust is on drawing G‑dliness downward. On Rosh Hashanah, our Divine service is characterized by submissive supplication and intense remorse; on Shmini Atzeres, our Divine service is in a joyful mode.”

[From this it may be inferred that what we can accomplish in the 48 hours of contrite remorse on Rosh Hashanah can be equally accomplished in the 48 hours of joy on Shmini Atzeres and Simchas Torah. Indeed, the Rebbe Rayatz once cited his father, the Rebbe Rashab, as follows: “The 48 hours of Shmini Atzeres and Simchas Torah should be dearly cherished, for at each moment, one can draw bucketsful and barrelsful of treasures, both material and spiritual. And this is accomplished through dancing.”]

I asked a Mashpia, why, in his understanding, there is no HaYom Yom that speaks about the critical and central Avoda of Simcha in our day-to-day life. He answered brilliantly: You missed the lesson from the HaYom Yom of Shmini Atzeres. In that HaYom Yom the Rebbeim compare Shmini Atzeres to Rosh HaShana and teach us that what can be accomplished on Rosh HaShana with inner remorse can be accomplished on Shmini Atzeres through joy. This is teaching us something essential to Yiddishkait: Just as everyone feels that every day is a small Rosh HaShana and we want to accomplish and bring ourselves to accept the Malchus Shamayim, so too every day, everyone should know that all those things can be accomplished through serving Hashem with joy.

Serving Hashem with Simcha is very much connected to bringing Moshiach, as the Rebbe explained on Shabbos Parshas Ki Seitzei 5748, as follows:

The concept of simcha shares a connection to the Future Redemption. For it is in the Era of the Redemption that we will experience the consummate level of simcha. At that time, all undesirable influences will be negated, as reflected in the verse, “And G-d will wipe away tears from every face.” Indeed, all the negative influences will be transformed into good.

This will greatly increase the simcha we will experience, enabling it to reach consummate perfection. Therefore, the returnees to Eretz Yisroel are described as being “crowned with eternal joy.” The relation between the concepts of simcha and Redemption is alluded to by the fact that the roots of the words simcha and Moshiach share the same three letters shin mem ches.

To explain the connection between the two: Simcha breaks through (poretzes in Hebrew) all barriers. This is also the nature of Moshiach, who is a descendant of Peretz, and is referred to as ha’poretz, “the one who breaks through,” as it is written, “The one who breaks through will ascend before them.” For Moshiach will break through all barriers and limitations.

On the verse, “Zion - there are none who seek her out,” our Sages comment, “This indicates that one should seek her out,” implying that we must demand the Redemption. Similarly, we must seek out joy, including the ultimate joy, the joy of the Redemption. We must demand that G-d grant us the consummate joy of the Era of the Redemption.

I, therefore, offer the following suggestion and request: that we increase our rejoicing with the intent of actually bringing Moshiach and the true and ultimate Redemption.

Throughout the years of exile, the Jewish people have longed for the Redemption and prayed for it earnestly every day. Surely this applies to the tzaddikim, and the n’siim of the Jewish people who had an overwhelmingly powerful desire for Moshiach. Indeed, as related in the annals of our national history, some actually sacrificed their lives to force Moshiach to come earlier (although there is a specific warning against doing so).

Nevertheless, these earlier activities cannot be compared to the storm for the coming of the Redemption aroused by the Previous Rebbe with his cry (printed more than forty years ago): “L’Alter l’t’shuva, L’Alter l’Geula-Immediately to t’shuva; immediately to Redemption.” And his intent with the word “immediately” was simple: at once, straight-away.

… And so, it is natural to ask: what can we do to bring Moshiach that has not already been done?

In reply, it is possible to suggest, as above, that the Divine service necessary is the expression of joy for the sake of bringing Moshiach.

Simcha breaks through barriers, including the barriers of exile. Moreover, simcha has a unique potential to bring about the Redemption. As explained in the series of discourses entitled Samach Tisamach, although the phrase “the day of the rejoicing of His heart” is interpreted as a reference to the building of the Beis HaMikdash, during the First and Second Battei HaMikdash, G-d’s happiness was not complete. It is only in the Beis HaMikdash to be built in the Era of the Redemption that there will be perfect happiness. “Then the happiness will reflect the essence of the Ein Sof.”

The maamer continues to explain that this essential joy can be aroused by the simcha experienced in connection with a mitzvah. Indeed, the simcha reaches higher than the mitzvah itself, precipitating the expression of the essential joy of the Era of the Redemption.

In previous generations, people surely experienced simcha in connection with their observance of mitzvos. For the experience of this simcha is a fundamental element of Divine service, as it is written, “Serve G-d with happiness.” Nevertheless, in previous generations, the emphasis was on the service of G-d, and that service was infused with happiness. The suggestion to use simcha as a catalyst to bring Moshiach, by contrast, puts the emphasis on the simcha itself, simcha in its pure and consummate state.

(Needless to say, for a Jew, even this pure expression of happiness must be connected with his Divine service in the Torah and its mitzvos, as it is written, “The precepts of G-d are just, bringing joy to the heart.” Nevertheless, the emphasis is on the simcha itself, not on the factors which bring it about. And this service of simcha should have as its goal - bringing Moshiach.)

…This is within the grasp of every individual. By meditating on the imminence of Moshiach’s coming and the knowledge that at that time, perfect simcha will spread throughout the entire world, it is possible to experience a microcosm of this simcha at present.

Indeed, the lengthy explanation of this concept is not in place, deed is what is most important. Announcements must be made about the importance of increasing simcha with the intent of bringing Moshiach. And if anyone questions the effectiveness of this proposal, let him put it to the test and he will see its effectiveness. And this simcha will surely lead to the ultimate simcha, the rejoicing of the Redemption, when “then our mouths will be filled with joy.”

I want to end by sharing another thought with you: This year, not being a leap year, we only have one month of Adar. While that may be easier for many - especially teachers and students - there seems to be a component missing: The power to nullify all negative forces in the joy celebrated in the 60 days of Adar, as it is possible in leap years (as the Rebbe told us). To those that feel this lack and emptiness, I would like to suggest that even though we only have 30 days of Adar this year, we still have 60 HaYom Yoms for the month of Adar. If we throw ourselves into the “Shishim,” i.e., 60 HaYom Yoms of the month of Adar, we will certainly have the Ko’ach to nullify all negatives and bring Moshiach!

Rabbi Avtzon is the Rosh Yeshiva of Yeshivas Lubavitch Cincinnati and a well sought after speaker and lecturer. Recordings of his in-depth shiurim on Inyanei Geula u’Moshiach can be accessed at http://www.ylcrecording.com

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