“When the month of Adar enters, we increase in joy.”
Today begins the Hebrew month of Adar and as the Talmudic quote above states, this is a month of happiness. In two weeks we will celebrate Purim, one of the most joyous of Jewish holidays.
But I can’t help but stop for a moment and ask, “2021? Happy? Joyful?” There are now over 2.3 million people worldwide who have died from COVID-19. We are stuck living and working in our homes. Many of us haven’t seen children, grandchildren, parents or siblings in months or longer. Unemployment is high. Restaurants and other businesses have failed. People are hungry. Our mental health has suffered.
And yet, I can’t help but wonder about the Jewish version of joy. Those who know me well, know I am a huge Star Wars fan. My favorite of all the newer movies is Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. The final scene shows the plans (on some sort of memory card) for the Death Star being given to Princess Leia. The character handing her those plans asks her, “what is it they have sent us?”. She doesn’t answer with specificity, instead she says a single word: “HOPE”. Isn’t it true that so much of Jewish tradition is tied to that idea. Whether it is “Next year in Jerusalem” or having a national anthem entitled “The Hope”- “Hatikvah”, Jews focus remains on the possibilities for our future.
I take nothing away from all the horrible happenings of today. They make me extremely sad but through it all, I look at my community here in Pittsburgh and I remain hopeful. Honestly, that feeling of hope emanates from the good I see happening throughout our community. I wrote about examples of what gives me hope in this past week’s Jewish Chronicle. If you are interested in some reminders of the good that we do here, you can read that piece at jewishchronicle.timesofisrael.com/dont-give-up-now-there-is-light-at-the-end-and-in-the-middle-of-this-tunnel.
This Adar may not be joyful like most years past. For me, through hope and through seeing what this community accomplishes, my joy will absolutely be increasing.
P.S. To add to that sense of hope, this morning, another 300 Ethiopian immigrants landed at Ben Gurion airport. Included was a six year old boy named Benjamin Tesfahun who is in desperate need of heart surgery. He was not supposed to be on this flight but due to advocacy from the Jewish Agency and others, his Aliyah was accelerated. My sense of joy is increasing on this very first day of Adar.