Today is the 18th day of the Jewish month of Adar (Adar II, actually, since this is a leap year). Adar is known to be a month of happiness. Even in the code of Jewish law, the Talmud, it states: When the month of Adar enters, we increase in joy. -Talmud, Taanit 29a
Sure, the holiday of Purim which comes in the middle of the month of Adar is happy, but how does a 1 to 2 day holiday translate to an entire month being considered joyous? We still have the same challenges (bills to pay, carpools to run, illnesses small or big to contend with…) as every other month.
One hint to the success of Purim transforming the entire month to being one of happiness and joy is in looking at the ways it is celebrated – we give additional gifts to the poor, we dress in fun costumes, we give gifts of food and treats to friends, we read/ listen to the story behind the holiday (The Book of Esther) and we have a special feast to “eat, drink, and be merry.” We set aside our usual routines in every way and connect with our history, selves, and others.
To look deeper into the source of happiness in the holiday of Purim we turn to the actual story of the holiday. In reading “The Megilla”/ The Book of Esther, we see a chain of events that add up, in the end, to the Jewish people going from a risk of being wiped out by all the people who hate them all on one day, to having the tables completely turned and it being a day of all of their enemies at the time being wiped out. All, with no open miracles. G-d’s name is not even mentioned in the entire book – He is there, of course, orchestrating the chain of events, all from behind the scenes. In fact, the turning point of the story was when “The king could not sleep”. A simple sleepless night can have more impact than ever imagined. And, there in lies the key to happiness – not the seeking of open miracles to inspire us to happiness, but utilizing the events in our every day life to make a difference and to appreciate the day-to-day miracles around us.
… like my getting 6 costumes sewn in one week, around my work schedule, in time for the Purim celebrations, all while my kids did the treat baking and packing… Or, would that be considered more of an open miracle….
So, Purim lessons on keys to happiness can boil down to: give what you can to help others in need, do nice things for the family and friends you have, appreciate the great potential in seemingly small things, and celebrate life with others.
Another important lesson from the story of Purim is to “give credit where credit is due” as the whole turn-around of the story came from something reported to the king in which “…Esther said in the name of Mordechai…” So, to do likewise, here are links to the great sites I got the pattern piece layout and instructions I used to make the two kimono above.
And to help get you in the mood of being happy, here is a great video – Pharrell Williams – Happy in Jerusalem!