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Parashat Ki Tisa
Happiness is something that will help us in so many life areas. The Arizal was quoted as saying that sadness is what ruins a person’s Parnassah. And when a person brings happiness into his life, he brings Parnassah. This is hinted at in the end letters of the words .והיית אך שמח The letters spell the name of the Angel who is responsible of Parnassah – חת”ך. At times, all you need in order to close a deal is a real smile, but the real smile is sometimes so hard to keep on our faces. All people search happiness, but only a minority find it.
The mitzvah of happiness in Adar is not just for the holiday of Purim. It is the mitzvah of the month. As the passuk says, The month that was reversed for them from grief to joy. (Esther 9:22) Happiness has a number of elements to it. What, specifically, is the happiness of Adar about? And, is there something unique in the month of Adar that made G-d want the holiday to fall out then, and not in another time?
Rashi explains why Adar is a time to increase happiness. משנכנס אדר – ימי נסים היו לישראל: פורים ופסח. We begin to be happy in the month of Adar for there were miracles then – Purim and Pesach. (Taanit 29a) The miracles of Purim and Pesach occurred in Adar and Nissan – so these are happy months, months of miracles, hope and redemption. We begin to be happy in these months because, as the Baal Shem Tov would say, כִּֽי־בְשִׂמְחָ֣ה תֵצֵ֔אוּ When you feel happy, you can leave your difficulties behind. Because when you are happy, miracles happen. Through happiness, we will be redeemed. To keep this happiness a whole year long, one needs not just one month of happiness, but two.
The happiness of Adar is an inner happiness, a positive state of mind. When R’ Akiva saw a fox exiting the Holy of Holies after the destruction of the Temple, although his friends were crying, he was laughing. R’ Akiva, why are you happy to see the Temple in total destruction? He answered, why are you crying? If the prophecy of Uriah that the Temple will be plowed under came true, the prophecy of Zecharia will definitely come true, עֹ֤ד יֵֽשְׁבוּ֙ זְקֵנִ֣ים וּזְקֵנ֔וֹת בִּרְחֹב֖וֹת יְרוּשָׁלִָ֑ם . Men and women of ripe old age will yet again dwell in [the streets of] Jerusalem... With these words, R’ Akiva’s friends announced, You have consoled us. You have opened a window of hope for us.
R Noach Weinberg would teach that one way to happiness is to anticipate something amazing. Then, you will have much more pleasure from what you anticipate, because you already preprogrammed yourself to view this upcoming experience as amazing. Happiness begins from the minute we hope, from the anticipation that something amazing is about to happen. If you always look forward to something, you will always be happy.
R’ Chaim Shmuelevitz teaches this, as well. When we anticipate something we do not want, we cannot stay happy. The Or Hachaim in Vayechi tells us that the reason sometimes the Torah refers to Yaakov as Yaakov, and at other times Yisrael is that when he was happy, he was called Yisrael. But when he was down, when he was in pain, when he was worried…, he was referred to as Yaakov. This answers the question – How did the angel of Esav hurt Yaakov? Wasn’t Yaakov able to overpower him? The Seforno writes, on the words וַיַּ֗רְא כִּ֣י לֹ֤א יָכֹל֙ ל֔וֹ וַיִּגַּ֖ע בְּכַף־יְרֵכ֑וֹ וַתֵּ֙קַע֙ כַּף־יֶ֣רֶךְ יַעֲקֹ֔ב And he saw that he could not reach him, and he touched his hip, and he displaced the hip of Yaakov. The words that say that the angel could not overcome Yaakov mean that as long as Yaakov was connected with G-d, in thought, or in speech, the angel could not cause him harm. But once the Angel of Esav told Yaakov of the future sins of the Jewish nation’s leaders, sins that come from Yaakov’s hip, from his descendants, this got Yaakov worried. And these worries made Yaakov vulnerable. Because when Yaakov was worried, he lost connection with G-d, for just a second.
R Wolbe teaches something amazing. All real happiness in life is a combination of two opposites joining – man and woman – body and soul – heaven and earth – G-d and His people. When it rains, it is the joining between heaven and earth, and this is the happiness of Sukkot at the beginning of the rainy season. This is why it is so important to learn Torah with happiness, and to pray to Hashem with happiness, for, as we know, prayer and Torah are where G-d and His people connect. “When you pray – you are talking to G-d. When you learn – G-d is talking to you”. If you are not happy when you are learning – G-d is not talking to you. פִּקּ֮וּדֵ֤י יְקֹוָ֣ק יְ֭שָׁרִים מְשַׂמְּחֵי־לֵ֑ב. If you are not happy when praying, you are not talking to G-d.
Adar is when winter and summer meet. It is the time when last year meets the new year that begins with Nissan. It is a time that past meets future. It is a time to anticipate, to say that the past is the past and the future can be a new beginning, if only we can find hope in the present. Hope in G-d that He can start everything anew. It is the month in which you have the most hope, because it is the month that is אלף (אלופו של עולם) דר. G-d is among us in a special way.
According to Sefer Yetzirah, the month of Adar corresponds to the feeling of laughter. Laughter is when the opposite of what you expected happens. Adar is correspondent to the tribe of Naftali, and Naftali’s power is נַפְתּוּלֵ֨י אֱלֹהִ֧ים׀ נִפְתַּ֛לְתִּי…גַּם־יָכֹ֑לְתִּי. It is the month when, if we pray hard enough, learn Torah enough, G-d gives us the power to change even His own decisions, Kavayachol. It is the month of וְנַהֲפ֣וֹךְ ה֔וּא אֲשֶׁ֨ר יִשְׁלְט֧וּ הַיְּהוּדִ֛ים הֵ֖מָּה בְּשֹׂנְאֵיהֶֽם.
Why did Haman pick this month of all months? In the timeline of Jewish History, Purim took place when the Jews were a bit confused. They had experienced nearly a millennium of miracles. They learnt to rely on miracles. And now, they were in exile, and dependent on the laws of nature. They were at a spiritual decline. And their only hope was the words of the prophet Yirmiyahu, that after seventy years of exile, G-d would bring them back home to Eretz Yisrael. The Talmud, in Megillah, tells us how the people of the time miscalculated the 70 years, and thought that the time had passed, and that G-d had given up on His People, H”V.
Haman picked this month of Adar, out of all months, for there was no holiday, no miracle in it. Adar is the month in which the leader of the Jews, Moshe Rabbenu, the man who brought miracles to the nation, the man who led the nation into G-dliness, died. Moshe’s death in Adar was seemingly a proof to Haman that Jews have times when they are not G-dly. Haman wanted to use this opportunity to make the Jewish people doubt that G-d was really in their midst. ( עמלק=ספק;הֲמִן־הָעֵ֗ץ) He wanted to take away our hope in the future.
It did not take long for Haman to learn how mistaken he was. The hope of our nation, the G-dliness of our People, is our connection to Moshe’s Torah, not to Moshe himself. Haman came to get Mordechai, to give him a haircut and take him around on the king’s horse. He saw that Mordechai was teaching his students the law of the day: it was the 16th of Nissan, the second day of Pesach. The day we bring the Korban HaOmer. Haman expected Mordechai to be teaching the laws of Sh’mad – of יהרג ואל יעבור – in Yeshiva. How one should die, Al Kidush Hashem. But instead, Mordechai was teaching the laws of the Omer that would have been brought on that same day, had the Temple been rebuilt!
“But Mordechai! Don’t you read the news? Don’t you know that you will all be annihilated? What Omer are you even talking about?” The first thing Haman said to Mordechai was – Mordechai – the handful of flour that you are teaching the students about, to do the Kemitzah, has outweighed the 10, 000 bars of silver that I offered Achashverosh, to annihilate the Jewish Nation!
What does this mean? Mordechai was telling the people to ignore Haman’s decree – to have hope that nothing and no one can interfere with the destiny of the Jewish people! The Jewish people are above the Mazal. The word Mazal comes from the word nozel, that means that things drip from above. Everything that happens drips from above… Except for the Jewish Nation. We can change Heavenly decrees!