purim in hebron 311.
(photo credit: AP)
Even though it is only Adar I that is now arriving, nevertheless any Adar brings
with it anticipation and a feeling of optimism and satisfaction. This is in line
with the words of the rabbis that “when Adar enters, joy and happiness enter
You will note that it does not say that when Adar arrives, we
will be joyous and happy. Rather Adar brings with it the happiness and joy, and
we will somehow be the beneficiaries of that atmosphere. This may at first
appear to be just a linguistic example of splitting hairs. But I think
The Jewish calendar is not just a record of time and dates. It
creates atmosphere and feeling and emotions and values. The feelings engendered
by the months of Elul and Tishrei are far different than those of Adar. It is
the sensitivity of our soul and the memories of our traditions that infuse the
spirit of the month within us.
So it is Adar that brings with it that
atmosphere of good tidings and eventual joyous tidings coming ahead. In Israel
it also marks the beginning of the turn of the seasons and there is a hint of
spring in the air, even though this year we here, unlike the rest of the Western
world, have had a very dry and mild winter. But spring is certainly the season
that everyone looks forward to and Adar ushers in its advent.
claim to fame is naturally the fact that Purim falls within it. It is clearly
identified by name in the Book of Esther.
Adar is identified in that book
as being the 12th month in the Jewish calendar. This year, as is the case seven
times in every 19 year lunar-solar cycle, there are two months of Adar. So Adar
will not only be the 12th month, it will also be the 13th.
The rabbis who
ordained and perfected the permanent Jewish calendar in the fifth century
ordained that Adar is the only month that can be doubled up. There are many
reasons given for this decision based upon weather, agriculture, travel
conditions and other vagaries of life. But in a simple sense the rabbis wanted
us to enjoy the atmosphere of hope and optimism that is the atmosphere of Adar a
It has been a long exile and very difficult events have
occurred to us. It would have been very easy to give in to sadness and
depression, loss of hope and a feeling of despair. Adar came to dispel all of
those feelings. Purim is the prototype of the Jewish spirit, of our
indestructibility and eventual survival and eternity.
We can always use a
double measure of such spirit and atmosphere.
Hence the rabbis in their
wisdom decreed that only Adar was to be doubled up in a fairly regular sequence
of years. For when Adar enters, so does hope and joy and a feeling of
Adar I contains the day of Purim Katan – the minor Purim
celebrated on its 14th day. This is also to be seen as a harbinger of the great
Purim a few weeks distant. The knowledge that there exists a minor Purim is
itself a heartening message. Good tidings and hoped-for redemptions do not
always burst upon the scene suddenly.
Rather they usually come
incrementally, one step at a time.
If one can commemorate minor
achievements, small victories, gradual improvements, then one can expect even
greater achievements in the future. Life is never an all-or-nothing,
instant-winner game. Purim Katan leads to the great Purim which in terms leads
to the holiday of redemption and national freedom, Pessah.
So Adar I has
great lessons contained within its calendar days.
The appreciation of its
hopeful messages fuels our optimism even when apparently everything around us is
falling apart and undergoing rapid and uncertain change. We should view the
advent of Adar, even the first Adar, even the minor Purim, as being positive
promises of goodness and security and salvation from our enemies and all of the
evil that is unfortunately so prevalent in our world. Yes, when Adar enters, so
does goodness and happiness.