Rosh Chodesh Adar began at sundown Feb. 11 and ended Feb. 13. When Adar arrives, joy is increased. During these times, however, it’s a challenge. Our task is to seek joy, even if we must redefine it. Currently, joy has less to do with where we travel, what restaurants we try, and more to do with who we are. We’re resourceful people, innovative, creative and flexible. We seek out humor, even in the darkest of times, and can look to the ever-present gifts from Hashem.
There are simple joys, like the sunrise and sunset each day, birdsong, the noticeable light that lingers, the hope of spring just around the corner, and the blessed breath that moves in and out of our bodies. Joy lives in the stars and moon, the constant changing of the seasons and in nature’s cycles that inform the trees, flowers and animals. Our part is easy, in observing and appreciating those gifts.
Let’s not leave them unopened.
Purim is the star of Adar’s joy with its superheroes, laughter and merrymaking. This year offers “CARnivals” in temple parking lots and Zoom Schpiels, all in celebration of our indomitable spirit.
The themes are the same, of things hidden and revealed, as Hadassah, turned Esther, announces she’s Jewish and saves our people. There’s the fasting, feasting, family and laughter.
Adar’s Zodiac sign is Pisces, represented by two fish swimming in opposite directions. We can choose to follow the one who dives down deeply into the dark waters or the one who swims upward toward the surface in the direction of the sunlight. Pisceans are dreamers. Some are starry-eyed people who imagine a life but take no action toward creating it, while others are visionaries. We all have Pisces somewhere in our chart. Astrologers say, “If it’s in your heart, it’s in your chart,” and vice versa. This may be a clue to unlocking your dreams.
The Hebrew letter for the month is kuf. Like the fish, it dips below the line. With the challenges we face, a deep meditative dive may be required to bubble up to the surface with joy. Kuf means “monkey,” so we think of monkey’s joyful, capricious antics.
Adar’s tribe is Naphtali, the 12th tribe and Jacob’s sixth son, born from his union with Bilhah, Rachel’s handmaiden. The name seems to have two opposite meanings: “sweetness is to me” and “my struggle.” Maybe there’s a struggle to find sweetness, but joy is the reward.
Laughter is the attribute of the month, which increases joy.
The controlling organ is the spleen, which transforms food digested in the stomach and uses it for nutrition in the body, energy, and production of quality blood, which plays a part in the immune system. Good health is joyful.
Try this journaling exercise: On paper, number 1 to 29. List 29 things, one for each day of Adar, that you can experience to increase your joy. Expand the fun by challenging your family members, kids and grandkids to make a list and share it daily, with a call or text.
Think about the things that bring you joy. Rather than focus on what you can’t do, imagine modifications. Maybe you had to cancel a trip to Italy. Acknowledge your disappointment but plan an Italian night in which you make or take out Italian food and play music by Italian artists.
Think back to your childhood joys of skipping rocks or using sidewalk chalk. Invite your inner child to Adar’s celebration. Celebrate Purim with a group on Zoom. Plan to show up with painted faces and guess the character of each participant. Remember the joy of giving with mishloah manot.
Put one task for each day on your calendar. Here are some suggestions to get you started: plant parsley for Passover; order seeds for your summer garden; watch the sunrise/sunset; take a walk and snap photos of one thing of beauty each day; make a new dessert; read outside; observe new growth on trees; bird watch; play Israeli music; watch favorite movies; and have a candlelit meal.
Meditation Focus: Close your eyes and settle. Let your body, mind and spirit recall the simple joys from your childhood when you were skipping stones or drawing with sidewalk chalk. Invite your inner child to Adar’s celebration. Challenge yourself to keep it going beyond the 29 days of Adar.