“When Adar enters, joy increases” – Talmud
Chodesh Tov (Happy New Month)! Today is Rosh Chodesh, the beginning of the Hebrew month of Adar. According to the rabbis of the Talmud, Adar is a month of miracles. It is a particularly propitious time for the Jewish people. The month begins with a spirited Hallel – songs of thanks and praise – and gets more joyous by the day, reaching maximum merriment on the 14th of the month, the holiday of Purim.
Why does the jubilance of Purim extend to the rest of the month? Other Jewish holidays don’t influence an entire month. To understand this four weeks of joy, let’s examine what Purim is all about. The holiday commemorates the Jews’ victory over Haman, the dastardly consigliere of the Persian king, who tried to exterminate the Jews 2500 years ago. As described in the Book of Esther, the Jewish Queen of Persia and her relative Mordechai saved their people and foiled Haman’s evil plan.
At the time of the Purim story, the Jews were in exile after enjoying hundreds of years of freedom in their own land. The Holy Temple – God’s resting place on earth – had been destroyed and Jewish morale was low. Taking advantage of their perceived weakness, Haman, the archetype of Jew haters throughout history, planned a “final solution” to finish the Jews off once and for all. His only question was, when to do it? Using a superstitious lottery system, Haman determined that Adar was the most inauspicious month for the Jews, so he scheduled his genocide for Adar. But the joke was on Haman; he was defeated in spectacular fashion and the Jews triumphed, showing that even at our lowest, God is with us and performing miracles. Haman foolishly believed there was a month when the Jews were weak. He didn’t understand the strength of our eternal bond with the Holy One. Staying happy for the entire month of Adar – not an easy feat! – demonstrates our faith in God and proves Haman (and those like him) wrong.
May you have a happy, silly, yummy, meaningful and musical month of Adar!