We are in the middle of the Hebrew month of Adar, a month when we are commanded to be joyful. Commanded. It’s not a gentle suggestion or a request, it’s an obligation received from G-d.
Some years it’s easy: between Purim, the spring thaw, and the general goodness of life, the mitzvah of Adar joy is as simple as the sunlight outside the window.
This is not one of those years.
My various communities have been hit hard by tragedy recently. Since the beginning of Adar three weeks ago, I have attended four funerals and visited three houses of mourning. Two of the deceased were relatively young, and one of these young men was taken suddenly, leaving behind his wife and ten-year-old son.
I wander through my days, clinging to my children and my to-do list, barely listening to the chatter that surrounds, searching for some deeper connection that can carry me through the fog.
I find it where I always do: in community. Our custom of providing food for the bereaved is only the beginning. We have been watching each other’s children in order to enable each other to attend the mourners. We have been leading shiva minyanim and checking on each other more than usual and greeting each other with more kind looks and heartfelt hugs.
Adar may not be as joyful this year as in other years, but there is a muted joy in coping together.