By Menachem Brod
Translated by Yoni Brown
Adar is a month of joy, and our Sages enjoin, “When Adar comes, we increase in joy.” This year, as in every leap year, there are two months of Adar and twice the joy. It sounds good, but it’s not apparent how “increasing in joy” translates into actual practice. Practically speaking, how does one “add in joy”?
In many yeshivot, the students organize dancing each night after the day’s studies. Indeed, this is a beautiful way to express joy; but what can the rest of us do after returning home each night from a long day of work?
One of the most beautiful ways to increase the amount of joy around us is so simple that we don’t think about it — giving happiness to someone else. In these days of Adar, we are meant to wake up each morning and ask ourselves, “how can I brighten up somebody’s day?”
The moment we put our heart into it, we know exactly how to make someone happy. One person would be delighted if we picked up the phone and checked to see how they felt. Another would appreciate a little help around the house. A third would appreciate a gift. And some people would just love a good joke.
Anyone who works around others doesn’t have to go too far out of his way — a warm smile, small acts that show that you care, or even just beaming happiness. An educator can make a student’s day with a word of praise, noticing a success, or expressing interest in a child’s wellbeing.
These are all small acts of kindness you can easily work into your daily routine. If these small things can bring happiness, imagine the joy generated when we go out of our way to help a neighbor who is down on his luck.
These days, Jews spend the weeks leading up to Purim by buying mountains of candy. On Purim, we usually send these treats and sweets to family and friends who don’t even need them. After the holiday is over, everyone is left wondering what to do with all the sugar.
The Rambam tells us, “It is better to focus on giving to poor people (Matanos L’evyonim) than to spend on your meal because there is no greater joy than bringing joy to the downtrodden, the orphans and the widows.”
The Lubavitcher Rebbe always sent a simple package of Meshalach Manos to just three Jews — a Cohen, a Levi, and a Yisroel. Inside was a Hamantashen, a fruit, and a drink. It’s more important to give lots of healthy foods to needy families who would be happy to receive them than bury our friends in unwanted sweets.
If we take this approach and look for ways to bring happiness to others, there is no doubt that we, too, will find great joy in doing so.