30 Shevat 5782
The month of Adar is designated in Jewish life as the month of joy and celebration – and with this being a Leap Year, we have a double dose of those special feelings. In every nineteen-year lunar-solar calendar cycle, there are seven years in which an extra lunar month is inserted into the Jewish calendar. This extra leap month is always the month of Adar. And with the wondrous holiday of Purim occurring in the middle of Adar 2, we are certainly in for joyous times.Purim is not a holiday in the sense that Pesach is, for example, but it sure is a holiday by any other reckoning. A people constantly threatened with persecution and annihilation needs to be reminded regularly – at least annually – of its ultimate survival and of the defeat of its oppressors and enemies. The advent of the month of Adar always signifies a time or reassurance and confidence in Judaism, the Jewish people and the Divine hand of Providence, so to speak, which hovers over us.It is a month of renewed vitality, faith and purpose. And in Jewish life, joy is always associated with the concepts of observance of ritual and the strengthening of Jewish values and beliefs. Even though the holiday of Purim itself is restricted to only two days in the month, its spirit and joy permeate all the days of Adar.The rabbis stated that from the day that Adar begins we are already bidden to intensify our feelings of joy, faith and optimism. A happy event suffuses the atmosphere both before and after the day on which it occurs. The whole moth of Adar is viewed as au nit, as an entirety of good tidings and happy events. The month takes on the vibrant coloration of the joyous days that fall within its allotted time.Adar also marks the final month of winter. It therefore becomes the harbinger of the beautiful weather of spring and summer that is the climate of the Land of Israel. Though Europe and America have experienced a truly bitter winter, we here in Israel have escaped with our moderate and mild winter weather interspersed with the blessing of periodic days of life-giving rain. (And even a little bit of snow.) In this, Adar fulfills its role of looking forward optimistically to better climes and times. Adar is, so to speak, the proverbial light at the end of the tunnel of winter and its inclement weather and sometimes dreary days. People are clearly affected by the climate where they live. The pervading darkness of the upper reaches of the northern hemisphere contributes to higher rates of suicide, depression, alcoholism and other negative behavior.People do better in sunlight and warmth than in ice, snow and penetrating cold. The dramatic and continuing population shift in the United States for example to the warmer West and South is testimony to this fact. The coming of the month of Adar, above and apart from its aspects of Purim, is, by itself, a sign of hope and optimism. The sun will now shine more brightly and more often. As you can already fathom none of this brilliant journalism of mine really applies to those living south of the Equator. But since Israel is the center of the world and Israel is my home, everything written here should be considered valid.We can all use an extra dose of Adar every so often. The realistically difficult world that Jews constantly live in needs to be occasionally lightened by an additional dose of joy and optimism. People gladly bear the idea of two Adars while they would be less likely to accept a doubling of any of the other eleven months of the Jewish calendar year. The Talmud advances practical and logical reasons to explain why Adar was chosen to be the potential double month. All of these reasons are naturally valid and acceptable on their own – a late rainy season, crops not ready, etc. The rabbis prevented King Chizkiyah from doubling up Nissan instead of Adar. There is an underlying value that the month of Adar possesses that no other month in the Jewish calendar can lay claim to. This idea of the joy of survival, of the ultimate downfall of the wicked, of the better tomorrow in physical, spiritual and national terms, belongs exclusively to Adar. There is no substitute for it in the rest of the year’s calendar.