We are told by the code of Jewish law, that when the month of Adar enters (which it did on Tuesday and Wednesday) we are to increase in joy.
The problem is how can you mandate a feeling? What if I don’t feel happy? What if I don’t have anything to be happy about? How can you expect me to increase in joy if life isn’t joyful? What if I have many problems and I am unable to increase in my joy?
The answer to that question, might depend on your perspective. Literally.
Let me explain in a Jewish way. A question. Is truth arbitrary? The answer is (also very Jewish) It depends. It depends on whose truth we are talking about. What does that mean you might ask, it either is true or isn’t, it’s black or white, it can’t be both.
Wrong, it depends.
Fundamentally the common mindset; “what is your truth”, ie. that truth is whatever you make it to be is not correct or accurate according to Torah.
However, to my knowledge there is no Mitzvah to “tell the truth”. (Please correct me if you know otherwise.) There is a Mitzvah (in last week’s Torah reading) “midvar sheker tirchak – distance yourself from falsehood”, in other words don’t lie. But, not lying is not the same is telling the truth.
Why would the Torah not have a Mitzvah to tell the truth?
I think the answer lies in the question above, there is a dimension of truth that is dependent on the perspective of the beholder.
When it comes to our own internal truth, there are layers and layers. Today’s truth is false tomorrow, and tomorrow’s truth is false today.
When it comes to external truths, eg. the sky being blue, the grass green, the earth round, these are things that there isn’t space for “your truth”. But when it comes to your own self awareness and self knowledge, the more you know the more you are in touch with your truth.
What you know about yourself today is today’s truth, but once you learn more about yourself (tomorrow’s truth), what you know today is false in comparison. And so as we grow we peel away the external false layers and keep accessing deeper layers getting us closer and closer to our truth.
One will journey this road an entire lifetime and still be peeling away layers.
(It is interesting to note that the next verse in the Torah after “distance yourself from falsehood” is the Torah’s instruction about not taking bribe.
Why shouldn’t you take a bribe? The obvious answer is because it is dishonest, it is a perversion of justice. However, that is not the reason the Torah forbids taking a bribe.
The Torah says, “don’t take bribe, because bribe blinds the eyes of the wise and makes crooked the words of the righteous”.
The Torah is telling us something fascinating. The concern with taking a bribe is not that one will tell a lie, because the Torah just told us a verse earlier not to lie. The issue with bribe is much more nocuous. The bribe taking messes with our subjective truth-o-meter. The issue is that our mind is susceptible to thinking that we are being truthful about a situation when in fact we are being dishonest. The shift in our thinking is a result of the bribe we have taken. Once we have taken the money we are now compelled to argue in favor of the person who has bribed us.
Our self love is the bribe we take each day. It is the bribe of self love that doesn’t allow us to look more deeply at ourselves and find our deeper truth, tomorrow’s truth today.
We can wait for tomorrow and/or life’s experiences to learn a new truth, or we can have a good spouse, mentor or friend who will help us see ourselves for our own inner truth.
This then is the deeper meaning of the prohibition of not taking a bribe, a deeper understanding as to why there is no specific mitzvah of telling the truth and an understanding of truth from the Torah’s perspective.)
As it relates to happiness, your happiness will depend which truth you want to adopt. If you want to put on your myopic lenses, and see only today’s truth, then indeed it is true. Life may be very hard right now, I am going through so much stuff how can you expect me, in fact command me, to be happy?
However, if you can, and I suggest this is what the Code of Jewish Law is expecting of us, to get in touch with tomorrows truth, then you can, will and must be happy. From the vantage point of tomorrow, today will indeed be great. I just can’t see it yet.
Hind sight is 20/20 they say. Perhaps, this is what is being asked of us. Be happy now that Adar has entered, because I, Gd, am giving you a special gift, the power to get in touch with your deeper truth. In that truth, happiness is attainable to all.