Mishenichnas Adar Marbim B’Simcha
The oft sung phrase “Mishenichnas Adar Marbim B’Simcha”, When the month of Adar arrives we should increase our joy, is often taken at its simple meaning that we should act and be more joyous during the month of Adar. Let us look deeper.
We don’t really do anything differently during the month of Adar. We say Tachanun, all the prayers for the dead and everything else that would be omitted on other “happy” days. We don’t add anything to our daily liturgy or daily practices that would show our added joy. Indeed this Halacha is not brought in Shulchan Oruch or most of the Poskim (it is mentioned by the Magen Avrohom 686 and in Kitzur Shulchon Aruch). So how is it manifested in practice?
[The Munkatcher Rebbe in Nimukei OC 685 writes that the reason it is omitted from the Shulchan Oruch is because there is no specific actions that one should or should not do, rather one should engage in behavior that makes him joyous. See also Shu”t Chasam Sofer OC 160 who discusses this issue at length.]
The source of Mishenichnas Adar Marbim B’Simcha is in the Gemara (Taanis 29) commenting on the words of the Mishnah that “Mishenichnas Av Mima’atin B’Simcha” When the Month of Av arrives we should reduce our joy. The Gemara comments that just as when Av arrives we reduce our joy, so too when Adar arrives we should increase our joy.
The reason given for increasing joy in Adar is because they were days of miracles for Klal Yisroel, specifically Purim and Pesach. (Rashi)
The Gemara goes on to say that therefore if one has a court case with an Akum he should not schedule it for Av, when his mazal is bad rather he should schedule it to take place in Adar when his mazal is good.
There are several questions that arise when reading this Gemara:
1) What is the correlation between decreasing joy in Av and increasing joy in Adar?
2) Why does Rashi add Pesach to the reason of increased joyousness in Adar when it took place in Nissan?
3) What is the connection between decreasing and increasing joy and good and bad mazel?
The Magen Avrohom (551) quotes Tosfos (Megilla 5) that in Av we have to cease all joy totally. It would seem that the flip side of this in Adar would be to be totally joyous and cease all sadness. Indeed when quoting this Gemara the Ayin Yaakov adds “When Adar arrives we decrease mourning and increase joy.” Perhaps this is his intention.
Rav Yaakov Emden (Shailos Yaavetz 2:88) explains that Rashi throws Pesach into the mix in order to show us that Purim isn’t a one-time miracle that was performed like Chanukah, rather it ushers in an era of Geulah and redemption, beginning with Adar and running through Pesach.
So perhaps the reason why we are told to be joyous is because we are beginning an era of redemption – the exact opposite of Av when we are beginning a period of Golus and exile. The mazel and season of the time is one of hope and deliverance and is therefore a good time to schedule a court case with the dominant nation in whichever Diaspora we happen to find ourselves in.
Although there are no Halachically mandated behavioral changes for Adar, the deeper message in Mishenichnas Adar Marbim B’Simcha is that we are entering a time of redemption and salvation beginning with Adar and Purim and carrying straight through Pesach. This is an ideal time for each of us to seek out our own personal Geulah – freedom from the yetzer hara and the distractions of Galus. Perhaps it is an auspicious time to start something new – add some learning, or distance ourselves from some of the negative influences around us, in order to merit the final Geulah.
The Sfas Emes (Taanis Ibid) suggests an alternative to Rashi’s explanation. The joy in Adar is not due to the miracles that took place. Rather it is because of the continuation of the sacrifices in the Bais Hamikdash. The kick off for the campaign to keep up the fund which provided animals for the daily sacrifices was when Parshas Shekalim was read at the beginning of Adar, and the due date was Rosh Chodesh Nissan. It is explicit in the verses that there was great joy in the world when the Jews brought the SHekalim, and this ensured the continuation of the Bais Hamikdash and the Tamid offering.
This lies in direct contrast with Av, which commemorates the cessation of the sacrifices and destruction of the Temple, thus explaining the Gemara’s juxtaposition.
Thanks to Yechezkel for his help with this post
UPDATE 2/25/11 –
I just rediscovered the origins of the popular Mishenichnas Adar tune: (Thanks Dixie Yid)
Could the reason that we don’t embrace all the rules of not saying Tachanun, etc in Adar is because those rules were already established for Nissan?
An interesting modern day application of having court cases – I have a friend who has a child that was nebach born not well and he gets some type of supplemental social security for the child and every few years you get reevaluated and a big rov/posek (i think it was your Rebbi)told him to try to get the evaluation done in adar based on this din.
Beautifully done. Thanks aagain for all the insights. in respect to your questions about the correlation between Mazal and joy and also the connection between the lack of joy in Av and the increase of joy oin Adar; see the Zohar in this week’s Parasha, brought down in Korbon Nesanel in the beginning of the 4th perek of Taanis Os 5.
I had a thought. Haman picked Adar because it was a bad luck day for the Jews. Moshe Rabeinu died in Adar. We battle bad luck with simchah. Hashem Tzilchah – if we are b’simchah, Hashem gives us Simchah. For further elucidation on this concept take a look here:
rabbi yaacov haber
are you suggesting that adar is a bad mazel and we should be bsimcha to try to change that? then we shoul o the same thing in av?
Shlomo; I’m suggesting that the essence of Venahfoch hu is that Hashem changed the Mazal of Adar thru our simcha. Since the aveiros of the Second Beis HaMikdosh are still with us – Hashem has not commanded us to change it.Yaacov Haber
can you see how we changed the mazel of that song
The Torah Temimah in his great classic, Mekor Baruch, describes how the Beis Haleivi, Aruch Hashulchan, and Netziv lived with great depression in their later years. He himself excperienced similiar emotions. Rav Soloveitchik also reffered to his state of existential crises very often. This seems very contradictory to the entire Halacha discussed here. Why is there such a great discrepency between Jewish law and practice?
elisha what are you some type of apikoros it seems that your post is just to belittle our gedolim im sure in adar they were more bsimcha than the rest of the year even with their “depressions”
I truly appreciate your constructive critcism. “Rebuke a wise man and he will love you.”
I would like to offer you some advice back. Your alias name suggests you are a Kanoi, a zealot, are you not aware of G-d’s negative stance on zealotry, see Malachim I ch. 19. Why don’t you choose a more peaceful name, something like shlomo, related to shalom.
Additionally you call me an apikoris as if it were a derogatory word. It’s not. Many of our greatest Gedolim have been called Apikorisim, e.g. Rav Kook, R. Dovid Tzvi Hoffman, and R. Yonatan Eibeshutz. I’m proud to join this illustrious group.
The Rav, in his great work, “Halakhicman,” seems to describe himself as the unification of ‘Cognitive Man’ and ‘Homo Religiousus.’ It would seem unlikely that such a man would experience “existential crises very often.”
elisha, it would seem to me that kanoi is correct in this issue. unfortunately, due to a lack of proper education and the current financial situation in america, I haven’t had enough time to correctly learn advanced jewish law. however, over the years I have picked up the bible on occasion and I have been privilaged enough to be in the company of those who have the ability to teach it to me. just a few questions. doesn’t it say that the cause for all the great travesties enumerated in deuteronomy is the fact that the jews failed to comlete the mitzvot with great joy and a good heart? also didn’t king david exclaim, serve god with great joy? the entire concept of jewish holidays stems from the concept of joy? I would app. a response.
As a ardent follower of this blog, I would truly appreciate your response to the previous comments. It seems at first glance that “Ayelet” and “The True Halachic Man” have some very strong questions on your opinions.
true halachik man,
you’re lack of jewish knowledge is quite apparent from your question; it sound like all you know is Aish.com pop-Judiasm . I know a young man named Chester Rosenbaum (who is a homo religiouses) who always asks these questions; I have many times answered him, and he always forgets. The answer is that all verses in the Bible speak about doing actions of mitzvot happily, but none ever refer to the actual existential state of happiness. these two happinesses are very different as everyone knows. In conclusion I suggest you try Yutorah.org instead of Aish.com.
The Hagahos Ashri, as quoted in Shulchan Aruch rules that, in a pinch the Megila can be read with a Minyan for the entire month of Adar.