- Question: [Tuesday, 30th Shevat 5783]
I know that when the month of Adar comes, we are supposed to increase in joy. What however does this practically mean? If I love milk chocolate, should I increase in eating milk chocolates during the month of Adar? Is this truly the meaning of increasing in joy and what the sages intended? Does it mean that I have to put on a smile on my face even when I’m sad? A command to be joyful is very general and abstract, and honestly speaking in most years while I may talk the talk of how one needs to be increasing in joy during this month, I don’t know what practical resolutions are to be taken due to this dictum and what I am supposed to do to fulfill it?
The mitzvah to increase in joyous matters during the month of Adar is a very personal Mitzvah for a person to increase in matters that give him joy on a personal level, both physical and spiritual, and is not limited to any specific action and does not come to include or exclude any specific action. Some examples of joy increasement which will fulfill this mitzvah can include: treating oneself to a special food delicacy, listening to joyful music, purchasing a new item for oneself that gives him joy, and so on and so forth each person according to what gives him joy. On the spiritual side, this can and should include studying a Torah subject that one is eager to discover and learn, or study a Hasidic text which appeals to him. As the Rebbe points out, the joy must be felt not only on oneself but also in one’s family, and hence a father and mother should try to rejoice their family members with those matters that give them joy. Some families are accustomed in fulfillment of this directive to dance to music each night together as a family. Bottom line, it is in truth the most tangible and non-abstract mitzvah that we have, as everyone is aware that there are matters that give him joy and pleasure, and he is simply to increase in those matters during this month. So yes, if you like milk chocolate and there is no health reason for why you shouldn’t be eating it, then increasing in its consumption during this month would definitely fulfill this mitzvah.
Explanation: The Talmud states as recorded in the Poskim that one is to increase in joy throughout the month of Adar. The details and parameters of how to fulfill this mitzvah are not recorded in the Poskim, and hence we must conclude that it is a general command to increase in all matters that bring one joy and so conclude some of the Achronim and is alluded to in the Rebbe’s talks. To quote from the words of the Nimukeiy Orach Chaim, “Although regarding the month of Av the Talmud explicitly lists those matters in which one should decrease in joy, regarding the month of Adar the Talmud does not state anything other than a general directive to increase in joy…. So the answer is that in truth a Jew is always required to be joyful especially according to the teachings of the Besht and his students and this joy is a biblical obligation as stated in Scripture…… Now regarding the command to increase in joy in the month of Adar, no specifics were recorded as in truth whatever matter that one does that increases personal joy is included in this mitzvah and every person should evaluate and estimate what gives him personal joy. A list of examples of joyful actions is not recorded in the Talmud as this may be mistakenly used to deduce that other actions of joy do not fulfill the command while in truth the mitzvah is to increase in any matter that gives one joy.” The Rebbe adds that this also includes matters of spiritual joy such as to increase in learning Torah, in particular the inner dimension of Torah, and the scrupulous observance of Mitzvos.
Sources: See M”A 686:5; Gemara Taanis 29a; Nimukeiy Orach Chaim 687; Likkutei Sichos 4:1274; Likkutei Sichos 16:345; Sefer Hasichos 1992 p. 391
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