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The More You Give, the More You  Get

02/16/2018 11:03:57 AM


Rabbi Steven Suson

Mishenichnas Adar Marbin B'simcha
"When Adar comes, we increase our happiness!" (Taanit 29a)

Today, we celebrate Rosh Chodesh and joyously welcome the Hebrew month of Adar. When this time comes around, the Talmud instructs us to increase our happiness level. In fact, this is one of the few seasons that we are actually commanded to be in a positive, even happy, mood. Although it seems strange that our tradition would tell us how to feel at a particular time. Many people allow their moods to be dictated by unpredictible and volitile external forces. However, while we often cannot control our circumstances, some of the mitzvot associated with the upcoming holiday of Purim can help us to achieve a happier demeanor. These observances teach us to focus on the hidden miracles that bless our lives each day. The customs and traditions of Purim are designed to remind us to:

  • recognize the many blessings in our lives and show gratitude to the Almighty for the Divine protection we enjoy. 
  • cherish our families and close friends, upon whom we rely for support and inspiration.
  • realize our potential to selflessly help others in need.

On Purim, we read the story of Esther, participate in a festive celebration, and send Mishloach Manot (food related care packages) to our friends and neighbors. Additionally there is another very important mitzvah to be completed in this season which adds to our sense of satisfaction. Matanot L'evyonim are monetary gifts to those who are less fortunate. These gifts help the recipients in obvious and measurable ways, but let me suggest that this precept is central to this season, and key to the command to feel happy, because of the personal affect giving has on the giver. 

Newton's law of every action having an equal and opposite reaction surely applies to charitable giving as well. The satisfaction we feel after having effectively helped others to improve their lives enriches us spiritually and helps us to achieve personal happiness.

Dressing up in costumes is also traditional on Purim. The Baal Shem Tov once wrote that by donning costumes, we conceal our identities. In such a way, the giver remains as anonymous as the recipient of tzedakah. Maimonides agrees that the holiest form of charity is given in this way - an unknown donor to an unknown beneficiary. 

Sometimes outside factors influence us emotionally, but an important lesson of the month of Adar is that we do have control over how we feel, by virtue of our actions.  When we do good for others, we in turn feel more complete. Performing acts of Hesed makes us more happy - and happiness breeds more acts of kindness.

Wishing you and your family a Shabbat Shalom and a very happy Adar!

Shabbat Shalom,

Rabbi Suson

Mon, May 27 2019 22 Iyyar 5779