Moshe-Mordechai van Zuiden
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Adar, the month of happiness

In the month of Adar, Jews are supposed to promote happiness in the Universe (Latin, the unit that was turned). One does not necessarily need to make oneself happier. Included in the recommendation is to gladden others.

Why is happiness so important in Judaism?

  • It’s impossible to be angry and happy at the same time. Our Sages say that anger is like idol worship, one of the worst sins. So to avoid this is a good thing. A very popular excuse for our anger is that others angered us. Still, we use that to excite ourselves — which we could choose not to do. “He angered me” is therefore never true. It is also impossible to be angry and to speak badly of someone — one of the worst sins.
  • It’s impossible to be arrogant and happy at the same time. Read Sayings of the Fathers and see how bad arrogance is. Modesty is a virtue. Many people with money or brains or talent ruining their lives or relationships (only socialize with other arrogant people) through their illusion of supremacy. If you’re always happy, some people will take you for a simpleton but if you do it well, that won’t disturb you. And you become closer to many simple people – a great advantage.
  • Happy people are seldom alone. (Almost) everyone loves happy people. Sayings of the Fathers often condemns isolation. We gladden bride and groom because, without happiness, each will sit in their corner and mope. A Prophet needs happiness to receive Prophecy but we too cannot connect to G^d in prayer without happiness. (Crying may be done when you’re happy. Even better than when you’re down.)
  • It’s impossible to be jealous and happy at the same time. Not to be jealous is in the Ten Commandments. Happy people aren’t just content with their share — they feel privileged. (When you’re always happy, you do get enemies because there are many jealous people. I wouldn’t know what to do about that.)
  • It’s impossible to be dissatisfied and happy at the same time. Satisfaction is very close to gratefulness, which I think is a very important component of religiosity. (Dissatisfaction really looks very bad on people.)
  • No matter how many Injunctions you obey, if you don’t make something of your life and your Judaism, it all won’t interest your offspring. Yet, the other way around, if you celebrate your moral life, your offspring will do that forever too, we quote from the Torah at every Shabbat morning Kiddush.
  • When you’re happy, you’re one step away from friendliness (if you’re not egotistical). Our Sages tell us that to receive others with a smile. That is a large form of generosity that doesn’t cost anything. (In fact, to give charity without a smile is a sin.)
  • You need nothing to be happy. Pull up these corners of your mouth! I call that baseless happiness. (If you do that sincerely, are not just pretending, the smile will make you happy; but the other way around, to show your happy side once your feel happy may take forever.) Nothing and nobody could take that away from you. When you smile, you’re rich.
  • The last is the best, the Torah demands happiness with the execution of the Commandments and Injunctions. That is no embellishment of our behavior but rather essential, says our Torah. Those who meticulously observes without happiness sins greatly – constantly. Those very serious ultra-religious people are not religious at all. Ask people if happiness in Adar is a command from the Rabbis or from the Sages. The answer is: From the Torah, all year around.
  • If I had one more bullet here, we would have had ten of them. Nice number. Too bad! Being light is a form of happiness, icing on the cake.

A Happy Purim Katan!

The above is an English adaptation of the below Dutch version.


Adar, de blije maand

In de maand adar worden Joden geacht blijdschap te bevorderen in het heelal (prachtig, uniek Nederlands woord, bedacht door Hooft). Men hoeft niet perse zichzelf blij(er) te maken. Anderen verblijden is inbegrepen.

Waarom is blijdschap zo belangrijk in het Jodendom?

  • Wie blij is kan niet tegelijkertijd boos zijn. Kwaadheid is als afgodendienst, zeggen onze geleerden, wat geldt als een van de ergste zondes, dus dat is een goeie. Een van de meest populaire excuses voor kwaadheid is dat iemand kwaad op jou is, maar nog steeds gebruiken we dat om onszelf op te winden – wat we dus ook kunnen laten. “Hij maakt me kwaad” is nooit waar. Wie vrolijk is spreekt ook geen kwaad – een van de ergste zondes.
  • Wie blij is kan niet tegelijkertijd arrogant zijn. Lees spreuken der vaderen en zie hoe erg superieuriteitsgevoelens zijn. Bescheidenheid siert de mens. Veel mensen die geld of hersens of talent voor iets hebben, verpesten hun leven of relaties (gaan alleen om met andere arrogante mensen) met superieuriteitswaan. Mensen kunnen  je voor een erg simpel iemand houden als je altijd vrolijk bent maar dat raakt je niet als je het goed doet. En je hebt een beter contact met veel simpele mensen – nooit weg.
  • Wie blij is, is nooit alleen. (Bijna) iedereen houdt van vrolijke mensen. Isolement wordt vele keren veroordeeld in de spreuken der vaderen. We verblijden bruid en bruidegom, omdat zonder blijheid ieder in z’n eigen hoekje gaat zitten mokken. Zonder blijheid kan een profeet geen profetie ontvangen, maar wij ook niet ons met G^d verbinden in het gebed. (Huilen kan best als je blij bent. Beter zelfs dan als je depri bent.)
  • Wie blij is kan niet tegelijkertijd jaloers zijn – een verbod van de Tien Geboden. Blije mensen zijn niet alleen tevreden met wat ze hebben – ze voelen zich bevoorrecht. (Als je altijd blij bent krijg je wel vijanden want er zijn veel jaloerse mensen. Daar is niks aan te doen, dat ik weet.)
  • Wie blij is kan niet ontevreden zijn. Dat ligt heel dicht bij dankbaarheid, wat in mijn ogen een belangrijk kenmerk is van religieusiteit. (Ontevredenheid staat een mens echt heel slecht.)
  • Je kunt nog zo goed de verboden in acht nemen, maar als je niet iets maakt van je leven en je Jodendom, dan zal dat alles je nazaten niet meer boeien. Maar omgekeerd, vier je morele leven, dan zullen je nazaten voor altijd dat ook blijven doen, citeren we uit de Tora in de kiddush elke sjabbatochtend.
  • Wie blij is, is een stap verwijderd van vriendelijkheid (zodra je niet egoistisch bent). De geleerden vertellen ons dat het een groot goed is om anderen met een glimlach tegemoet te treden. Dat is een grotere vorm van gulheid dan iemand geld geven. (In feite, iemand liefdadigeheidsgeld geven zonder glimlach, is een zonde.)
  • Je hebt niets nodig om blij te zijn. Trek die mondhoeken naar boven! Ik noem het blijheid gebaseerd op niks. (Als je het oprecht doet, niet om te doen alsof, word je daar blij van; maar het kan heel lang duren voor je je zonnige kant laat zien als je wacht met je blij te gedragen tot je je blij voelt.) Dat kan niets en niemand je afnemen. Als je lacht, ben je rijk.
  • Lest best, de Tora eist blijheid bij het opvolgen van de ge- en verboden. Dat is geen verfraaiing van ons gedrag maar essentieel, zegt ons de Tora. Wie alles stipt nakomt zonder blijheid begaat een grote – constante – zonde. Die hele serieuze mensen die zo vroom zijn, die zijn niet vroom. Vraag mensen of vrolijkheid in adar van de rabbijnen of de Tora moet. Het antwoord: van de Tora – het hele jaar door.
  • Als ik nog een puntje had waren het er tien geweest. Mooi getal. Jammer dan! Luchtigheid is een vorm van vrolijkheid, een kers op de taart.

Een vrolijke Poeriem kattan!

About the Author
MM is a prolific and creative writer and thinker, previously a daily blog contributor to the TOI. He often makes his readers laugh, mad, or assume he's nuts—close to perfect blogging. He's proud that his analytical short comments are removed both from left-wing and right-wing news sites. None of his content is generated by the new bore on the block, AI. * As a frontier thinker, he sees things many don't yet. He's half a prophet. Half. Let's not exaggerate. Or not at all because he doesn't claim G^d talks to him. He gives him good ideas—that's all. MM doesn't believe that people observe and think in a vacuum. He, therefore, wanted a broad bio that readers interested can track a bit what (lack of) backgrounds, experiences, and educations contribute to his visions. * This year, he will prioritize getting his unpublished books published rather than just blog posts. Next year, he hopes to focus on activism against human extinction. To find less-recent posts on a subject XXX among his over 2000 archived ones, go to the right-top corner of a Times of Israel page, click on the search icon and search "zuiden, XXX". One can find a second, wilder blog, to which one may subscribe too, here: or by clicking on the globe icon next to his picture on top. * Like most of his readers, he believes in being friendly, respectful, and loyal. However, if you think those are his absolute top priorities, you might end up disappointed. His first loyalty is to the truth. He will try to stay within the limits of democratic and Jewish law, but he won't lie to support opinions or people when don't deserve that. (Yet, we all make honest mistakes, which is just fine and does not justify losing support.) He admits that he sometimes exaggerates to make a point, which could have him come across as nasty, while in actuality, he's quite a lovely person to interact with. He holds - how Dutch - that a strong opinion doesn't imply intolerance of other views. * Sometimes he's misunderstood because his wide and diverse field of vision seldomly fits any specialist's box. But that's exactly what some love about him. He has written a lot about Psychology (including Sexuality and Abuse), Medicine (including physical immortality), Science (including basic statistics), Politics (Israel, the US, and the Netherlands, Activism - more than leftwing or rightwing, he hopes to highlight reality), Oppression and Liberation (intersectionally, for young people, the elderly, non-Whites, women, workers, Jews, LGBTQIA+, foreigners and anyone else who's dehumanized or exploited), Integrity, Philosophy, Jews (Judaism, Zionism, Holocaust and Jewish Liberation), the Climate Crisis, Ecology and Veganism, Affairs from the news, or the Torah Portion of the Week, or new insights that suddenly befell him. * Chronologically, his most influential teachers are his parents, Nico (natan) van Zuiden and Betty (beisye) Nieweg, Wim Kan, Mozart, Harvey Jackins, Marshal Rosenberg, Reb Shlomo Carlebach, and, lehavdil bein chayim lechayim, Rabbi Dr. Natan Lopes Cardozo, Rav Zev Leff, and Rav Meir Lubin. This short list doesn't mean to disrespect others who taught him a lot or a little. One of his rabbis calls him Mr. Innovation [Ish haChidushim]. Yet, his originalities seem to root deeply in traditional Judaism, though they may grow in unexpected directions. In fact, he claims he's modernizing nothing. Rather, mainly basing himself on the basic Hebrew Torah text, he tries to rediscover classical Jewish thought almost lost in thousands of years of stifling Gentile domination and Jewish assimilation. (He pleads for a close reading of the Torah instead of going by rough assumptions of what it would probably mean and before fleeing to Commentaries.) This, in all aspects of life, but prominently in the areas of Free Will, Activism, Homosexuality for men, and Redemption. * He hopes that his words will inspire and inform, and disturb the comfortable and comfort the disturbed. He aims to bring a fresh perspective rather than harp on the obvious and familiar. When he can, he loves to write encyclopedic overviews. He doesn't expect his readers to agree. Rather, original minds should be disputed. In short, his main political positions are among others: anti-Trumpism, for Zionism, Intersectionality, non-violence, anti those who abuse democratic liberties, anti the fake ME peace process, for original-Orthodoxy, pro-Science, pro-Free Will, anti-blaming-the-victim, and for down-to-earth, classical optimism, and happiness. Read his blog on how he attempts to bridge any tensions between those ideas or fields. * He is a fetal survivor of the pharmaceutical industry (, born in 1953 to his parents who were Dutch-Jewish Holocaust survivors who met in the largest concentration camp in the Netherlands, Westerbork. He grew up a humble listener. It took him decades to become a speaker too, and decades more to admit to being a genius. But his humility was his to keep. And so was his honesty. Bullies and con artists almost instantaneously envy and hate him. He hopes to bring new things and not just preach to the choir. * He holds a BA in medicine (University of Amsterdam) – is half a doctor. He practices Re-evaluation Co-counseling since 1977, is not an official teacher anymore, and became a friendly, powerful therapist. He became a social activist, became religious, made Aliyah, and raised three wonderful kids. Previously, for decades, he was known to the Jerusalem Post readers as a frequent letter writer. For a couple of years, he was active in hasbara to the Dutch-speaking public. He wrote an unpublished tome about Jewish Free Will. He's a strict vegan since 2008. He's an Orthodox Jew but not a rabbi. * His writing has been made possible by an allowance for second-generation Holocaust survivors from the Netherlands. It has been his dream since he was 38 to try to make a difference by teaching through writing. He had three times 9-out-of-10 for Dutch at his high school finals but is spending his days communicating in English and Hebrew - how ironic. G-d must have a fine sense of humor. In case you wonder - yes, he is a bit dyslectic. If you're a native English speaker and wonder why you should read from people whose English is only their second language, consider the advantage of having an original peek outside of your cultural bubble. * To send any personal reaction to him, scroll to the top of the blog post and click Contact Me. * His newest books you may find here:
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