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Adar -- A Celebration of our Lowest Point

by Rabbi Naftali Silberberg

  

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“When the month of Adar enters, we increase in joy” (Talmud, Taanit 26b).

There are many joyous dates on the Jewish calendar, but besides Purim, none of them affect the entire month, causing it to be auspicious and joyous. An understanding of the unique nature of Purim will allow us to understand why its joy extends throughout the entire month of Adar.

Haman thought to take advantage of the Jews when they were at their lowest moment. The Temple was destroyed, and for the first time since the birth of the Jewish nation – the Exodus from Egypt – they were exiled from their land and subjected to the rule of foreign powers. For nearly a millennium, the Jews had been a free people, and now they were experiencing exile and persecution. Furthermore, even the gentiles were well aware of Jeremiah’s prophesy that after seventy years of exile G-d would return them to their land and rebuild the Temple. Seventy years had elapsed (or so everyone thought, due to erroneous calculations) and the awaited redemption had not arrived. “Surely,” Haman thought, “the Chosen People had lost their exalted status; there has never been a better time to implement the Final Solution.”

In a certain sense, our perpetual relationship with G-d is more evident when we are exiled and downtrodden due to our sins, and G-d still interferes on our behalf, as was demonstrated by the Purim miracle
The lottery designated Adar to be the month when Haman’s nefarious plan would be put into motion. The Talmud tells us that Haman was overjoyed by this favorable omen. “My lottery fell on the month when Moses died,” he exclaimed. In Haman’s mind, the demise of Moses, the “head” of the Jewish nation, was a metaphor for the demise of his entire nation.

Haman successfully pinpointed the moment when the Jews were at their lowest point – historically as well as calendar-wise – to implement his plan... however, he still did not succeed.

The history of our nation is very much compared to human life. Through the course of a lifetime a person undergoes drastic changes. The helpless, talentless newborn has virtually nothing in common with the independent, talented person he will be years down the line. And even during adulthood, everyone has ups and downs, happy days and depressing days, fulfilling days and seemingly wasted days. There is, however, one constant: the identity (essence) of the person. John Doe is John Doe from the day he is born until the day he dies. The same is true with the Jewish people. We have ups and downs, but our identity as G-d’s chosen nation is never affected. In a certain sense, our perpetual relationship with G-d is more evident when we are exiled and downtrodden due to our sins, and G-d still interferes on our behalf, as was demonstrated by the Purim miracle.

All other holidays celebrate the “highs” of our nation. Therefore, the joy is limited, because these highs did not last. Purim celebrates a time when we were at a low point in our history – but our relationship with Hashem remained intact. Thus, its joy is greater than the joy of any other holiday, because it demonstrates the essential and immutable nature of our relationship with G-d.

Consequently, the month of Adar, the month which Haman understood to be the most inauspicious month for the Jews, becomes the happiest month of the year—the month when we bear in mind that “inauspicious” has no bearing on our relationship with G-d.


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Miscellaneous » The Jewish Calendar

Talmud
Usually referring to the Babylonian edition, it is a compilation of Rabbinic law, commentary and analysis compiled over a 600 year period (200 BCE - 427 CE). Talmudic verse serves as the bedrock of all classic and modern-day Torah-Jewish literature.
Purim
A one-day holiday celebrated in late winter commemorating the miraculous deliverance of the Jewish people from a decree of annihilation issued by Persian King Ahasuerus in the year 356 BCE.
Haman
Descendant of anti-Semitic tribe of Amalek and prime minister of the Persian Empire in the 5th century b.c.e. Schemed to annihilate all the Jews, and the holiday of Purim was established when the plot was foiled.
Moses
[Hebrew pronunciation: Moshe] Greatest prophet to ever live. Led the Jews out of Egyptian bondage amidst awesome miracles; brought down the Tablets from Mount Sinai; and transmitted to us word-for-word the Torah he heard from G-d's mouth. Died in the year 1272 BCE.
Adar
The twelfth month on the Jewish calendar. This month (which falls out approx. February-March), is the most joyous month on the calendar due to the holiday of Purim which is on the 14th and 15th of this month.
Hashem
"The Name." Out of respect, we do not explicitly mention G-d's name, unless in the course of prayer. Instead, "Hashem" is substituted.
Jeremiah
1. Jewish prophet who lived in the 5th century BCE. 2. One of the 24 books of the Bible, containing the prophecies of Jeremiah. The book is replete with prophecies concerning the destruction of Jerusalem and the Holy Temple.
Exodus
1. The miraculous departure of the Israelites from Egyptian bondage in 1312 BCE. 2. The second of the Five Books of Moses. This book describes the aforementioned Exodus, the giving of the Torah, and the erection of the Tabernacle.
Temple
1. Usually a reference to the Holy Temple which was/will be situated in Jerusalem. 1st Temple was built in 825 BCE and was destroyed in 423 BCE. The 2nd Temple was built in 350 BCE and was destroyed in 70 CE. The 3rd Temple will be built by the Messiah. 2. A synagogue.
G-d
It is forbidden to erase or deface the name of G-d. It is therefore customary to insert a dash in middle of G-d's name, allowing us to erase or discard the paper it is written on if necessary.