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Tuesday, February 28

The Weekly Shtikle - Mishenichnas Adar

Today, 2 Adar, is the yahrtzeit of my Zadie, R' Yaakov Bulka.
This special edition of the Weekly Shtikle is dedicated le'iluy nishmaso, Chaim Yaakov ben Yitzchak.

While a yahrtzeit is often a more solemn day, the timing of my Zadie's yahrtzeit always has me reflecting on his joy and happiness throughout his life and the joy and happiness we experienced whenever in his presence. And I am always reminded of this thought he once shared with me:

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 (bottom of 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, a"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 inadvertently becoming happy. Indeed, the Magein Avraham (551:1) cites Tosafos in Megillah (5b) as interpreting mema'atin as no joy whatsoever.

But if so, this must be paralleled in Adar! If the mema'atin b'simchah of Av is to be understood as a complete and complete reduction of simchah, the marbin b'simchah of Adar must be completely to the contrary - an 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

There are two observations that come to mind in relation to the above for which I don't have any concrete answers. First, it is noteworthy that the halachah of Av is recorded in the Shulchan Aruch as mentioned above but that of Adar, unless I missed it, is not. Perhaps it is simply because the former is sourced in the mishnah but maybe there is more to it.

Another aspect that puzzled me is the need for this preparatory time. We are required to mourn the destruction of the Beis HaMikdash and to rejoice at our salvation on Purim and Pesach. But what is the necessity for the buildup? In truth, both events were preceded by much anticipation. The churban was imminent for quite some time – at least from siege seven months prior. And Haman met his demise on Pesach, almost a full eleven months before the events of Adar. However, the trigger dates of Rosh Chodesh Av and Adar do not hold any particular historical significance. So why is this anticipation phase a necessary component of the mourning or the joy? Hopefully I will have some answers by Purim.

Chodesh Tov! Mishenichnas Adar Marbim b'Simchah!

Eliezer Bulka


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