The Talmud teaches: משנכנס אדר מרבים בשמחה. "With the start of Adar, we greatly increase joy." As we proceed through the month of Adar towards Purim, we have to actively work to increase joy.
We do so by celebrating Purim in a joyous and festive manner. We do so with those closest to us at our Purim seudah--festive Purim meal.
We increase the joy of those more distant by giving משלח מנות (sending portions of goodies to our friends and family--even to those we can't celebrate with person).
Lastly, we give מתנות לאביונים money to those who we might not consider part of circle of joy--our poor neighbors. The tradition instructs us to take our internal joy and bring it to ever-increasing concentric circles to those that we perceive to be most different than us.
I hope that all of us find ways to participate in the joy of the season at all levels. Please let me know if you would like to learn more or participate in any of these mitzvot.
While we are in a period of increasing joy, many of those who have had the least joy this past year--Katrina evacuees--are facing immanent eviction . I find the potential for further decreasing of their already-diminished joy weighs down my spirit and makes it hard for me to fully enjoy Adar. Help them out by telling FEMA to not evict them from their temporary dwellings.
Then, let's celebrate and study and let the true joy of Adar bubble to the surface.
חודש טוב Have a joyous month of Adar,