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Tuesday, February 20

The Weekly Shtikle - Mishenichnas Adar

Today, 2 Adar, is the first Yahrtzeit of my Zadie, R' Yaakov Bulka. This special edition of the Weekly Shtikle is dedicated le'iluy nishmaso, Chaim Yaakov ben Yitzchak.
    In the first mishnah of the fourth perek of Maseches Taanis, we are told that with the onset of the month of Av - "mema'atin b'simcha," we decrease our indulgence in happiness. This is as actually the only "mishenichnas" found in the mishnah. Only later, in the gemara (29a), are we told by Rav Yehudah, the son of Rav Shmuel bar Sheilas in the name of Rav, that just as when Av arrives, we decrease our simchah, when Adar comes, we increase it.
    My Zadie, o"h, points out that the gemara is clearly equating these two customs on some level. And if we examine the laws pertaining to the days leading up to Tish'ah B'Av, they resemble not a decrease in outward expressions of happiness, but more of a total absence of happiness altogether. We even refrain from drinking wine so as to prevent us from inadverdently becoming happy. But if so, this must be paralleled in Adar! Just as the "mema'atin b'simchah" of Av is a complete and utter reduction of simchah, the "marbin b'simchah" of Adar must be a complete and utter invasion of simchah. It is not enough to simply bump the level of happiness up a notch during this time. We must allow happiness to completely envelop us. We must strive for 100% simchah!*
    At first, it would seem that this would make it all the more difficult that the Yahrtzeit falls out at the very beginning of Adar. But in truth, it allows us to focus on one of the many virtues of my Zadie. A mere chance encounter was enough for a perfect stranger to experience my Zadie's simchah - his radiant smile and genuine love for everyone. For us, his family, our experience was on an even higher level. Simchah was not an abstract concept - it was a way of life. And when we were able to grab a piece of that simchah, whether it was by telling over a nice shtikle, or swinging back and forth holding on to his arms, it left its mark on us as well. At this solemn moment which comes in the middle of such a happy time, we are able to reconcile these seemingly conflicting feelings.
Chodesh Tov. Mishenichnas Adar Marbim b'SImchah!
Have a good Shabbos.
Eliezer Bulka
* This might be in sligh contadiction with Tosafos (Megilla 5a) who point out that the reduction is not complete even on Tish'ah B'Av itself as engagement is still permitted. Nevertheless, ein meishivin al hadrush!


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