It’s Adar! It’s the season of joy. Interestingly, contrast makes for definition.
What applies to human inventions such as computer monitors and such as television screens applies that much more so to human filters of “images’ from heaven, to our neshemot. More specifically, because we are in such a happy span, any discomfort we might currently be experiencing will be that much more pronounced.
Think of cold, whether you are conjuring images of snowy days spent outdoors or of slicing slightly frozen chicken breasts in preparation for a Shabbot dish. In either case, warmth defines cold. By going indoors, we realize how bitter the outside had become. Be running our fingers under warmish water, we appreciate how cold was the meat we were slicing.
Feelings mirror realities in a similar fashion. When we are busy with good deeds, such as giving tzedakah, such as making sure everyone in our circles has a place at a Purim seudah, and when we are busy with self-actualization, such as hearing the Megillah and thus reminding ourselves of our role in Am Yisrael, or such as delivering treats to others, thus reifying our important relationships, we tend to feel cheerful, maybe even thankful, or relieved.
Accordingly, any anguish, loss, grief, or misery we undergo during such a period is that much more illuminated as loss than such might be during more mundane times. To wit, during Adar, our difficulties feel that much sharper. To wit, during Adar, it’s almost t be expected that we experience distress.
What sort of pain is “distress’ and what can we do in response to it?
I’m not sure that anyone has the right to impose a definition of “pain” on anyone else. Hurt is subjective. Even physical medicine has a scale, illustrated for young or compromised patients, written or spoken for more able others, to help sufferers articulate the quantity of their afflictions. Harm caused by pain management strategies notwithstanding, few care providers withhold relief from people who are troubled.
Psychological hurt unwinds similarly. The rich man is disturbed by the loss of his cow, the poor widow by the loss of her hen, and the orphaned child by the loss of his egg. Each is strained by different levels of dissonance and each strain is of equal significance since it tilts the world of the person experiencing it.
What I would proffer, however, is how to deal with spiritual pain, with the sense of being abandoned or otherwise hurt on the cosmic level. The response to such awareness of shortfall, I believe, is to redouble one’s emunah, one’s faith.
The second to last stanza of the 138th portion of Tehillim (Psalms) reads
“If I walk in the midst of distress, You revive me; against the wrath of my enemies, You stretch forth Your hand and Your right hand saves me.”
I respect Torah scholars. I am not one. I am a midlife mom. In spite of this limit, I believe the above passage means that when we are troubled in the deepest possible way, not only is it okay to look to our Maker, but it is necessary to do so. He will not let our enemies triumph over us. He will shepherd us when we are hopeless.
In practical terms, it means that as long as we “keep the faith,” we will not find ourselves transversing our difficulties alone. The Boss will remain with us, and will help us live through whatever crisis we are experiencing.
In the story of Purim, HaKadosh Baruchu is hidden. Nonetheless, the many miracles of Ancient Shushan would not have occurred if He had not set them in motion and had not also proctored their progression.
I can’t tell you why the universe spins in the way in which it does. This year has brought death, injury, disease, poverty, and other “growth opportunities” to people near and dear to me. Conversely, this year has also brought babies, marriages, bnai mitzvot, healing, and kindred wonders to those same dear ones.
Pain is a reality. Pain is made clear when contrasted with joy. Adar is a time of joy. Adar will necessarily bring the sensation of pain into greater focus.
Adar will also bring our relationship to Hashem into greater focus. When we grab our graggers, tilt back our wine glasses, bless our chocolate, and hug our friends, we ought also to keep in mind that no matter how awful our distress, His hand is there to guide us.
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