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  • Rabbi Mordechai Lipskier

How a drowning man was saved

Chodesh Adar

Reb Simcha Bunim of P’shischa once noticed a man drowning. Unable to reach him, Reb Simcha Bunim called out, “send my regards to the livyasan!” He later explained that it was clear the man had no strength to save himself as he was. “My joke lifted his spirits and enabled him to grab onto a nearby plank and save his life.” The Gemara says that just like in the month of Av we must decrease in joy, so too must we increase in joy when the month of Adar comes. Why is it necessary to compare and contrast Adar and Av? The Rebbe explains[1] that the Gemara wants to emphasize that the increase of joy in Adar applies also while we’re still in galus, mourning the destruction of the Beis Hamikdash. Even in the darkest circumstances, a Yid can be joyous. And since joy breaks all barriers, it has the power to transform darkness into light.

The Rebbe then suggested several things we can do to increase our joy: Reflect on the fact that no matter what’s going on, Hashem loves us like an only child. Add in Torah and mitzvos, “The commands of Hashem are upright, causing the heart to rejoice.” And bring joy to another Yid. The Rebbe also suggested we do things (as per the suggestions specified in hilchos yom tov[2]) that bring us joy, and help our spouse, children and fellow Yid do the same. The Rebbe added that just like we find in halachah that non-kosher substances become null and void when they’re outnumbered sixty times, so too with regard to the month of Adar in a leap year, the sixty days of joy have the power to nullify all negative and unwanted things. Perhaps we can add that comparing the increase of joy in Adar with the decrease in Av is also to remind us that just as we were the ones to bring about the reason for the decrease in joy (“Because of our sins we were exiled from our land”), we have the power to increase in joy, and bring about the Redemption. As Reb Shimon of Yeruslav, a talmid of the Chozeh of Lublin, interpreted a well-known passuk in Tehillim: Oz yomru b’goyim, then, when Moshiach comes, the nations will say in protest, higdil Hashem la’asos im eileh, why has Hashem done such goodness with these people?! And we will respond, higdil Hashem la’asos imanu, Hashem performed this goodness for us, hayinu s’meichim, because we were joyous![3] Gut Shabbos, Rabbi Mordechai Lipskier [1] Terumah 5752 (1992). [2] Siman 529. [3] Toras Shimon pg. 94. Sichah of the 2nd day of Sukkos 5716 (1955).

The Flint family l’zecher nishmas Reb Avraham Michoel ben Yaakov Shimon Halevi a"h

The Moshe Group Moshe and Rivky Majeski