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  • Writer's pictureAaron Torop

Forced Happiness

Purim is the holiday of joy, and the holiday of being hidden. Let's uncover hidden happiness this Purim!

Jewish tradition teaches us, “Mi sh’nichnas Adar marbin b’simcha,” whoever enters the month of Adar must increase in joy. The pinnacle of our joy during Adar is Purim, celebrated this year by our community on Sunday morning, March 20th (check your email for more information!). This statement, to increase our joy, is not only advice but a real commandment. We are commanded to be happy during the month of Adar - this year nicely coinciding with the entire month of March.

Of course, Purim is a naturally joyous occasion: we celebrate our victory over Haman (booooo!!!) by eating hamantaschen, reading the megillah, and engaging in good-natured revelry. It is a time to be happy for our people’s continued existence and prosperity through good times and bad. But can we really be commanded to be happy? How can we force ourselves to be happy?

I don’t particularly care for the phrase to “force us” to be happy. After all, we can never truly force an emotion. Instead, I prefer to think about this commandment as uncovering the happiness that already exists. I believe that joy is around us, and in Adar we are commanded to find it and let it out.

Purim is not only the holiday of joy, but also the holiday of being hidden. Many people wear costumes, concealing their true identity. It is the only book in the Hebrew Bible where the name of God does not appear even once. Even Queen Esther is hidden! Her name according to Jewish tradition was originally Hadassah but was changed to Esther to hide her identity. She hides the fact that she is a Jew until she cannot keep it in any longer. And the name Esther shares the same root in Hebrew as the word to hide, l’sater.

Purim helps us hide and then uncover what it hidden. Esther reveals herself and we take our costumes off. And, I think, we find the hidden pockets of joy. In the month of Adar we increase our joy not by forcing ourselves, but by discovering hidden happiness. We delight in the small joys of a hot beverage on a cold morning, an excellent book or movie, a wonderful dinner with family or friends. Each day during the month of Adar, especially leading up to Purim, I hope we find ways to increase our happiness by uncovering the happiness that already exists around us. Together, as we enter Adar, we will increase in joy. Chag Purim Sameach – Happy Purim!

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