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Overview of the Month: Adar

Rochel Gross

Adar is the twelfth month of the year. The name “Adar” was given in Bavel.

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

Mazel of the Month

The mazel of Adar is fish, because fish in lakes and rivers multiply in Adar. This mazel is one of great brachah, because fish are hidden from the eye and protected from ayin hara (the evil eye).

Yidden are compared to fish. Just as fish can only exist in water, Klal Yisrael can only exist with Torah, which is compared to water. And just as fish multiply in Adar, we strengthened ourselves in Torah in this month twice in our history – the first time when Moshe Rabbeinu (who taught us the Torah – Toras Moshe) was born, and the second time when Yidden reaccepted the Torah in the days of Mordechai and Esther.

Adar Alef

This year, there are two Adars. The first one is called Adar Alef, and the second one is called Adar Beis. Have you ever wondered why we sometimes have two months of Adar? What is a Jewish leap year all about?

Let’s study the Jewish calendar for a moment. Our months are based on the lunar cycle, i.e. the amount of days it takes from when the moon is ‘born’ each month, grows bigger and bigger until it is a full circle, diminishes in size again, ‘disappears’ altogether, and is ‘reborn.’

Our years, however, are a different story. Because we are instructed in the Torah to make sure that Nissan is always in spring (Devarim 16), we count our years according to the sun to make sure we keep our Yamim Tovim in place with the seasons. The problem is that twelve lunar months are several days shorter than one solar year. Therefore, every few years, we add an extra month of Adar to “catch up” with the solar year.

How often does this occur? In every cycle of 19 years, there are 7 leap years. The third, sixth, eighth, eleventh, fourteenth, seventeenth and nineteenth years are leap years, in which we have two Adars. We are currently in the fourteenth year of the cycle.


Birthdays and Bar Mitzvahs in Adar

What happens if you were born in Adar? When do you keep your birthday if there are two Adars – in the first or second Adar? This is especially significant when you turn bar or bas mitzvah. From when are you obligated to keep all the mitzvos?

If you were born during a regular year (not a leap year), your birthday is held in Adar Sheini. If you were born in a leap year, your birthday is held in the same month that you were born, so if you were born in Adar Alef, your birthday is in Adar Alef, and if you were born in Adar Beis, your birthday or bar mitzvah is in Adar Beis.

Adar birthdays create some very interesting scenarios. For example, Reuven could be born a day after Shimon, and could end up having a bar mitzvah a month before him! Similarly, Levi could be born a month after Yehudah, and could turn bar mitzvah before Yehudah. Can you figure out how this is possible? (See end.)


Mishenichnas Adar Marbim b’Simchah

When Adar arrives, our joy increases. Chazal tell us that just as in Av we decrease our simchah, in Adar we increase it. Rav Pappa says that if a Jew has to stand trial, he should try to avoid standing trial in Av, which has a bad mazel, and rather schedule it for Adar, which has a very good mazel.

During the happy month of Adar, the wicked reshaim cannot harm us. When Haman drew lots to decide which month would be the best in which to cause the downfall of the Jews, he was unaware that the month of Adar was a good month for Yidden. With the help of Hashem, our sorrow turned into joy and Haman suffered a massive defeat.

Not only is Purim a Yom Tov, but the entire Adar is a month of simchah and joy. It’s important to realize that our mazel is especially strong when we are busy with Torah (just like fish in water). If we become lax in our Torah observance, as we did in the times of Mordechai and Esther, our good mazel can turn into bad mazel, chas v’shalom. In those days, as soon as we did teshuvah and reaccepted the Torah, our good mazel was reinforced.


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