Late yesterday afternoon, as I enjoyed a Shabbat walk, I noticed the sky. Just a little bit lighter, I thought to myself, than it was at this hour a few weeks ago. Spring is coming and that lifts my heart.
Even in southern Florida where the weather is warm year-round, the winter months feel a bit darker and a bit duller. As the sky brightens, there is the beginning of a sense of renewal.
That increase in joy usually is associated with the coming of the holiday of Purim, which is celebrated on the 14th of Adar, exactly two weeks from today. But the joy of Adar is also associated with the coming of spring. Even in the cold north, the first bulbs are starting to awaken under the soil as the earth gradually warms. Here in Florida, the flowers on some of our trees are exploding with joy.
Our tradition teaches us that we are obliged to fill our hearts with joy. Rabbi Nachman of Bratzlav, who is said to have fought depression all his life, offered us this prayer:
God, I stand beaten and battered by the countless manifestations of my own inadequacies. Yet we must live with joy, overcome despair, seek, pursue and find every inkling of goodness, every positive point within ourselves, and so discover true joy. Aid me in this quest, O God. Help me find satisfaction and a deep, abiding pleasure in all that I have, in all that I do, in all that I am.
—Likutei MoHaRan 1:282 (adaption by Moshe Mykoff and S.C. Mizrahi)
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"When Adar enters, we increase joy"