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Mi She'nichnas Adar

‘Mi She'nichnas Adar, Marbim B'Simcha, When Adar begins, joy increases.’ As we usher in Rosh Chodesh Adar this Shabbat, we couldn’t be in more need of raising our spirits and increasing our joy. The darker side of Purim’s wild hilarity conceals a chaotic world of disorder and uncertainty, a world of v'nahafoch hu, where everything is upside down and inside out, what seems to go forward goes backward: the wicked Haman plots to kill the Jews of Persia, only to himself hang on the gallows he commanded for our destruction; an orphan Jewish girl becomes Queen by winning a beauty contest and then turns around the fate of our People.

It seems we are living in a v’nahafoch hu world today too. Just a few days ago we thought we were in a race of vaccinations against virus. Now it seems we are in a race of vaccinations against variations. Just the other week holiday bookings for the summer were soaring. Now government ministers are telling us to hold our horses on get-aways abroad and in the UK, and are cautioning against a too-hasty lifting of restrictions in the face of still dangerously high infection rates. Will we ever emerge from the challenges of this pandemic? It’s clear there is no going back to the old ‘normal’. But do we have any clue at all what the new ‘normal’ will look like?

So let’s make a determined effort this Rosh Chodesh to do our own ‘nahafoching’, turning weariness and exhaustion, darkness and disorder on its head. Let’s raise up our spirits, raise up our glasses, and find joy in the month of Adar: an act of conscious rebellion that in itself affords strength and light. When I was a rabbinic student at Hebrew College in Boston, every Rosh Chodesh Adar our Dean Rabbi Sharon Cohen Anisfeld adopted the Chasidic custom of doing a headstand in the middle of the Beit Midrash, our Study Hall, embodying the spirit of v’nafafoch hu, literally turning herself on her head. Maybe we should all give that a go this year!

Shabbat Shalom, Stay Safe and Well,

Rabbi Lisa