“This is the law of the feast peace-offering that one will offer to Hashem: If he shall offer it for a thanksgiving-offering, he shall offer with the feast thanksgiving-offering unleavened loaves mixed with oil, unleavened wafers smeared with oil, and loaves of scalded fine flour mixed with oil.” (Chapter 7, Verses 11-12) Rebbe Noson teaches that the thanksgiving offering is the aspect of the obligation of anyone who is rescued from a difficult situation or sickness to thank Hashem upon their recovery. The four types of situations for which a person needs to give thanks and say a special blessing are: one who travels through a wilderness or desert, one who is freed from prison, a sick person who is healed and someone who travels across the sea (or by airplane today). All of the different types of suffering we experience are the aspect of the exile of Hashem’s presence in the world (גלות השכינה), because in all of our sorrows He also feels the sorrow. His presence is in exile with us. The main expression of the exile is when sadness enters a person’s heart, because all of the negative desires which someone is trapped by happen because of sadness, and as a result of this a person suffers from being far from Hashem, which is exile. Therefore, when Hashem helps somebody be rescued from their difficulty they need to bring a thanksgiving offering. Today, when we are not able to bring this offering, we need to thank Hashem with a full heart, which is the aspect of happiness. The main expression of happiness is when a person thanks Hashem, because this is the main simcha which we will experience in the future, “Give thanks to Hashem with a harp, with a ten-stringed lyre make music to Him.” (Psalms, Chapter 33, Verse 2) It is also written in another chapter of Psalms, “A psalm of thanksgiving, call out to Hashem, all the earth. Serve Hashem with gladness, come before Him with joyous song.” (Chapter 100, Verses 1-2) By thanking Hashem when we come out of a difficult situation, we are able to rectify the sadness which caused us to fall into a state of suffering. When a person lives with happiness, he will be saved from all types of suffering. Therefore, the Sages taught that in the future, when the Temple is re-built, all of the sacrifices will be nullified, except for the thanksgiving offering. (Likutei Halachot, Laws of Thanksgiving, 6th teaching)
The special mitzvah of this month of Adar is simcha! Praying for simcha and trying to increase the happiness in our lives. One of Rebbe Nachman’s most famous statements is ‘It’s a great mitzvah to always be happy.’ I decided recently to learn more in depth this teaching (and the one preceding it) about joy in the second part of Likutei Moharan, the 23rd and 24th teachings. Rebbe Nachman concludes the second teaching by saying, “And the general principle is that a person needs to overcome and strengthen themselves to be happy always… and to make themselves happy in any way possible, even by telling jokes and doing something silly.” Rebbe Noson adds in his prayer based on this teaching that the main revelation of holiness and our main source of life and vitality comes through happiness. Simcha is also a remedy for a kinds of illnesses and pains. This is how vital it is to our lives. Rebbe Noson teaches us from this parsha that by looking for all of the blessings and good we have in our lives and thanking Hashem and focusing on them, we can increase our happiness and be saved from suffering. We need to thank Hashem as well for all of the times that he has helped us in difficult situations. This is an additional advice for bringing ourselves to a state of happiness.
Rebbe Noson writes a beautiful prayer about Purim in his book Likutei T’filot, his book of prayers, that the miracle of Purim was greater and is greater than all the other miracles we have experienced as a people! It is a time to pray and rejoice. To pray for whatever we feel we are lacking in our lives, spiritually and physically, and to rejoice in Hashem’s miracles, which are always with us. One of the special mitzvahs of Purim is to give tzedkah to the needy, as it’s said about the gifts to the poor on this holiday: כל הפושט יד נותנים לו. The tsaddikim say that the same is true when we stretch out our hands in prayer on Purim, our prayers are accepted. We should all merit during this week of Purim to be happy in our service of God, to make others happy, and as a result of this to see on own personal redemption and the redemption of all of the Jewish people.
(The image is courteous of Chabad.org)