The Shulchan Aruch states “Mi’shenichnas Adar, marbim b’simchah.”When the month of Adar comes in, we increase our joy. Now this is a tall order. Happiness is not controlled by a switch that we can flip on or off. How can Hashem expect us to just decide to increase our joy in a particular month? It is obvious that Hashem only commands us to do what we are capable of. So in which way can we work on upping our level of happiness in the month of Adar?
Here’s another question about Adar. Every month has a constellation, or mazel, which represents the uniqueness of the month it rules over. The mazel of Adar is Pisces – the fish. What fish-like characteristics does this month have that it should be exemplified in such a way?
I think we can answer these questions with the following story.
Yaakov, a good and involved father, was playing hide and seek with his little 6-year-old son. “OK, Shmully, here’s how it works. You close your eyes and count to 30. I’m going to hide and you have to try to find me.”
Shmully scrunched his eyes closed and counted as his father hurriedly hid under the kitchen table. With a call of “Ready or not, here I come,” Shmully started searching for his father. He ran around the living room, his face lit up with a joyful glee as he checked all the usual spots. Not meeting with success in the living room, he eagerly moved on to the kitchen, all the while calling out “I’m gonna find you Daddy!” Shmully took a peek under the table and squealed in delight. “I found you!”
I’m sure this is a scene we have witnessed in many a household. But let’s take a moment to analyze it. Why is little Shmully so happy when he plays this game? What is he so joyful about as he searches for his father? Don’t you think he should be sad and worried? “Where is my Daddy? He’s gone! I can’t find him!” Why doesn’t Shmully feel upset? We all know the answer. He’s not upset because he knows his father is around somewhere. He’s not gone; it’s just part of the challenge, to try and find him.
If there’s one thing we learn from the Purim story, it’s about hester panim – how Hashem is very often hiding behind a mask. He’s hidden and we don’t always succeed in seeing Him. But that’s not grounds for being overly distressed. It’s all part of the challenge – to try and find Him. “Those who seek Hashem will be joyful of heart”(Divrei Hayamim I, 16:10). There is no reason to be sad or upset if we can’t see Him. We know that He’s always there, “peeking out between the cracks” (Shir Hashirim 2:9). Sometimes He’s hiding behind a mask. But we are confident that He’s always there, silently cheering us on as He eagerly waits for us to find Him.
Now we can connect the month of Adar to fish. The Gemara teaches that fish multiply to such a great extent because ayin hara (the evil eye) does not exert any dominion over them. The reason for this is because fish are hidden from the eye. While land creatures are visible for all to see, fish are concealed beneath the ocean waves.
Throughout Adar we are expected to focus on the fact that Hashem is hidden and it’s our job to search to find Him. The avodah of Adar is essentially a month-long game of Hide & Seek. We are commanded to increase our joy during this month. We do so by searching for evidence of hashgacha pratis (Divine interaction in our lives). If we search for Hashem, we’ll be a lot happier.