It was one of the mysteries of life, how my family with our roomy cargo van could engage in battles over space, whilst the entire Kellner clan, the same large brood as us, could fit into their father’s four-door sedan peacefully.
This was the era before seatbelt and car seat regulations. My father purchased a large cargo van and, instead of seats, there were foam mattresses on the floor. This allowed for sleeping, lounging, sitting…and allowed additional passengers at all times. It even allowed for my parents to, at one point in time, pick up an injured deer (but that’s a whole ‘nother story for another time of storytelling).
Contrasted with our roomy vehicle, was the four door sedan of the Kellner family. Yissocher Dov Kellner, of blessed memory, got a light blue car, one stylish enough to make sales calls, but a bit tight when you tried to fit in two parents and about eleven kids or so. And although they had no cargo van, the Kellners also took in additional passengers. The passengers were stacked, two layers to the car. You either provided a lap in that car, or you got to sit on one.
Yet, whilst our roomy van could have some peaceful moments, overall it was a “hey, get your elbow out of my eye” kinda ride. The Kellner family, on the other hand, would pile into their car and begin to sing. Out loud. Everyone together. With chorus and solos and harmonies. Smiling from ear to ear. Happy. For their father had decided that the verse “Kee B’Simcha” could be read literally to say, “Because they go out with joy, and they’ll come home in peace.”
Not just his car, but his whole life he lived that way. If you enter life with joy and conduct it with singing and happiness, it is sure to flow in a way so that the soul completes its sojourn here on earth B’Shalom, in peace and whole.
I thought of this approach when someone was having kid troubles, kids kicking and screaming and throwing tantrums in public. I remembered the Kellners’ Simcha approach, the setting out with a Joie de vivre, of embracing life and making it feel fun, of grinning from ear to ear unconditionally. And I seemed to recall, quite well, how much peace and wholesomeness that, in turn, engenders.
In this month of Adar, as we work on our Simchas Ha’Chaim and Simchas Mitzvah, may we learn how to sing through life to enable us to get through it in peace.