LIFELONG LEARNING FOR JEWISH WOMEN

Adar Aleph, A Time for שמחה/Happiness?

By the time we bless the new month of Adar, I am usually knee deep in both Purim and Pesach preparations, but this year it is not the case.  Why?  Because this year is a leap year and that means I get an extra month before these exciting preparations begin.  In a Jewish leap year, we get an extra Adar, positioned before the Adar that we celebrate Purim in, called Adar Aleph, the first Adar.  Purim is celebrated in Adar Beis.
Here’s some great trivia about Adar Aleph and Purim in general:
  1.  How often do we have a leap year, or a shana meuberes?

Answer:  7 times in 19 years.

  1.  Which years do they fall in?

Answer:  3, 6, 9, 11, 14, 17, 19

This answer can be confirmed in the back of the ערוך השולחן.

  1.  On the years when we have a leap year, does the statement of משנכנס אדר מרבין בשמחה (When Adar comes we must increase in happiness) apply to the Adar Aleph also?

Answer:  Rashi explains the Gemara where this statement requiring us to be happy in Adar that it is referring to ימי נסים היו לישראל פורים ופסח (Days of miracles for the Jewish people Purim and Pesach).  So many questions can be asked, here is a sampling. 

  • If we are to be happy in Adar, then why is Pesach mentioned?
  • If we are to be happy when we were saved, then why is Chanukah not mentioned. 
  • If we are to be happy on Pesach, then why did the sages write about Pesach under the happiness of the month of Adar, and not Nissan.
  • The flip side of משנכנס אדר מרבין בשמחה, is משנכנס אב ממעטין בשמחה, when Av comes, one must diminish in happiness.  So why is Av singled out, there are other unfortunate times in the year?

Taking the model from the month of Av, we find two interesting facts. 

  1.  The month of Av, specifically the 9th of Av has been singled out repeatedly throughout history as a day of foreboding.

On the years when we have a leap year, does the statement of משנכנס אדר מרבין בשמחה (When Adar comes we must increase in happiness) apply to the Adar Aleph also?

Answer:  Rashi explains the Gemara where this statement requiring us to be happy in Adar that it is referring to ימי נסים היו לישראל פורים ופסח (Days of miracles for the Jewish people Purim and Pesach).  So many questions can be asked, here is a sampling. 

  • If we are to be happy in Adar, then why is Pesach mentioned?
  • If we are to be happy when we were saved, then why is Chanukah not mentioned. 
  • If we are to be happy on Pesach, then why did the sages write about Pesach under the happiness of the month of Adar, and not Nissan.
  • The flip side of משנכנס אדר מרבין בשמחה, is משנכנס אב ממעטין בשמחה, when Av comes, one must diminish in happiness.  So why is Av singled out, there are other unfortunate times in the year?

Taking the model from the month of Av, we find two interesting facts. 

  1.  The month of Av, specifically the 9th of Av has been singled out repeatedly throughout history as a day of foreboding.
  2. There were several difficult days in Av, not just one.

We are going to apply these two facts to משנכס אדר מרבין בשמחה.

The days of salvation during the Purim story really started when Haman chose Adar to be the month to destroy the Jews.  He thought that Adar would be an auspicious time to make his decree against the Jews because of the death of Moshe Rabeinu on the 7th of Adar.  What he did not know is that it was also Moshe’s birthday.  The life of a Tzadik is perfect from birth until passing, especially when both dates are the same.  The month of Adar historically has been a month noted for goodness, and it is not just one day, but several days.

When remembering the day of Moshe’s passing in a leap year, it is on Adar Aleph.  Therefore, when our sages remind us about the miracles that occurred subsequent to Rosh Chodesh Adar, both Purim and Pesach are attached to the birth of Moshe Rabeinu.

Now we have an answer to our original question.  During a leap year, do we start the simcha in Adar Aleph or Adar Beis?

Answer:  Adar Aleph

  1.  How does the previous Divrei Torah teach us a lesson in Education?

Answer:   I once taught a group of rowdy grade 12 girls.  The first day of school I greeted them saying that I know that when they complete school, they are all going to find their individual niches, but now, I want to be a part of their successes.  Even in the relatively immature stages of their lives, I want to be available to them to help them dig deep and discover their own real potential.  Adar Aleph is that hidden storehouse of simcha that our Dvar Torah helped us understand.  I am encouraging once again that everyone who is involved with young people take every opportunity to encourage, explore within themselves and reveal their true G-dly spark.

Enjoy the next 60 days, and increase in simcha from day to day.

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