Adar Month of Happiness and Laughter
What is special about the month of Adar that requires us to increase happiness? I assume it is related to the fact that the holiday of Purim is during this month. Thanks.
Describing the month of Adar, the Talmud explicitly mentions the direct connection between Adar and happiness, as it says: “When the month of Adar enters we increase happiness.” We also associate this month with laughter. To understand the essence of the month of Adar we need to first examine the intrinsic connection between laughter, happiness, and this month of Adar.
The first place where we encounter the idea of laughter in the Torah is Sarah’s reaction to the prophecy that she will have a child at the age of ninety. Describing Sarah’s response the verse says, “And Sarah laughed to herself saying: ‘After I have shriveled will I once again have fine skin? And my husband is old!’ (Gen. 18:12)” The Torah clearly tells us that what triggered laughter within Sarah was the unexpected coming together of opposites. The idea of her aged body creating life was so ironic that she could not hold back her laughter. The punch line of a joke represents this idea beautifully. The more unexpected and out of place the punch line is, the funnier the joke. This is the essential cause of the experience of laughter.
We live in a world where God’s involvement is not always apparent. It’s not hard to find selfish acts of injustice that are rewarded. It’s not hard to find the righteous trampled under the schemes of the wicked. It’s not hard to find the bad ruling the good. For a person whose trust in God is not strong, it seems as though the world is heading towards destruction rather than redemption. Every experience of sudden and unexpected change of events, however, gives us a taste of the ultimate transformation of bad to good that will happen in the future. This experience reminds us that at any moment everything can turn upside down and everything can finally make sense. It is this feeling that triggers laughter in the body and happiness in the soul of each and every one of us who is looking forward to the day of the final revelation. This is the deeper reason for the feeling of happiness that accompanies every experience of laughter.
The commentaries point out that the unexpected reversal of fates is the apparent underlying theme in the Purim story. Close analysis of the Megillah reveals how quickly and smoothly the plans of Haman were not merely foiled but more notably transformed into bringing about the salvation of the Jewish People. The very night that Haman planned to convince Achashverosh to have Mordechai hanged ended up being the night on which he advised Achashverosh to extravagantly honor Mordechai. The very gallows that Haman prepared for Mordechai ended up being used for his own hanging. The very day that Haman had decided to be the time to destroy the Jews was the day on which the Jews destroyed their enemies. Ultimately, Haman’s own proposal to kill Vashti ended up paving the way for the ultimate salvation of the Jewish People. The turn of events in the story of Purim truly embody the verse that says, “Many are the thoughts that are in the heart of man but the counsel of God will prevail.” (Mishlei 19:21)
This is the connection between the month of Adar and the idea of happiness and laughter. The “special energy” of this month is the transformation of bad to good, as the Megillah says referring to the month of Adar, “The month that has been transformed for them from one of sorrow to happiness and from mourning to festivity. (Esther 9:22)” It is therefore specifically this month that is the ideal time to reflect on the miraculous turn of events that took place in the story of Purim. Through reliving the finale of the story of Purim we are given a taste of the future happiness and laughter that will fill the world when there will be the ultimate transformation of all that seems bad to good. This is the unique joy that we are meant to feel at this time, and this is the depth behind the month of Adar’s connection to the idea of laughter and happiness.