Joyful Adar

The special Mitzva of Adar is to be BeSimcha, joyful. Not always an easy one (especially when told that you have to…) 

I find the following story to be a beautiful example of how Simcha itself can alleviate real problems. 

The two brothers, Reb Elimelech of Lizensk and Reb Zushe of Anipoli, often wandered about together, posing as simple beggars. They would mingle with the masses, listening, teaching, speaking, helping and guiding whomever and whenever they could.

Once, while they were travelling with a group of vagabonds, members of the group were accused of being thieves, resulting in the entire bunch being thrown into jail. Confident of their innocence and eventual release, the two brothers sat quietly. As the afternoon progressed, Rabbi Elimelech stood up to prepare himself to pray the afternoon service.

“What are you doing?” his brother asked.

“I’m getting ready for minchah,” replied Rabbi Elimelech.

“The same G‑d who commanded you to pray commanded you not to pray in a room unfit for prayer!”“Dear brother,” advised Rabbi Zushe, “it is forbidden to pray in this cell, because there is a bucket full of sewage water, making the room unfit for prayer.”

Dejected, the holy Rabbi Elimelech sat down and cried.

“Why are you crying?” said Rabbi Zushe. “Is it because you are unable to pray?”  Sure, Reb Elimelech answered.

“But why weep?” continued Rabbi Zushe. “Don’t you know that Hashem, who commanded you to pray, also commanded you not to pray when the room is unfit for prayer? By not praying in this room, you have achieved a connection with Hashem.   True, it is not the connection that you had sought. Yet, if you truly want the divine connection, you would be happy that Hashem has afforded you the opportunity to obey His law at this time, no matter what it is.”

“You are right, my brother!” exclaimed Rabbi Elimelech, suddenly smiling.  Rabbi Elimelech took his brother’s arm and began to dance from joy as a result of performing the mitzvah of not praying in an inappropriate place.

The guards heard the commotion and came running. Witnessing the two brothers dancing—with their long beards and flowing tzitzit—the guards asked the other prisoners what had happened. “We have no idea!” they answered, mystified. “Those two Jews were discussing the dirty water bucket in the corner, when all of a sudden they came to some happy conclusion and began to dance.”

“Is that right?” sneered the guards. “They’re happy because of the dirty pail, are they? We’ll show them!” They promptly removed the bucket from the cell.

The holy brothers then prayed mincha undisturbed . . .

As the Baal Shem Tov said – “Ki BeSimcha Tezeu” – through Simcha you can get out of (many) trouble(s)…

Shabbat Shalom and a joyful Adar

Rabbi Chaim Michael Biberfeld