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The Systems of the Jewish Year

Mishenichnas Adar Marbim B’Simcha

By Rabbi Tzvi Hirsch Haber

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)


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