Friday, August 5, 2016

Powerful Months

“Rab Judah the son of Samuel ben Shilath said in the name of Rav. ‘Just as with the beginning of Av rejoicings are curtailed, so with the beginning of Adar rejoicings are increased” (Talmud Taanit 29a).

While this Talmudic passage can be a reference to the way people behave in light of the holidays connected to those months (Tisha B’Av is the 9th of Av, Purim is the 14th of Adar), Jewish tradition infers an actual change in the emotional atmosphere during those times of the year.

It is interesting to note that these months are also the months in which two of the greatest leaders of the Jewish people passed away. The first of Av is Aaron’s yahrtzeit. In addition to being the first High Priest and the brother of Moses, Aaron was renowned for his pursuit of peace between individuals. Pursuing peace is particularly important during the month of Av, because it is stated that the Second Temple was destroyed because of senseless hatred.

Moses, on the other hand, passed away on the 7th of Adar (which was also his birthday). Raised in the palace of Pharaoh, Moses turned the world upside down by rescuing the Children of Israel from slavery when the situation seemed hopeless for them. This is the optimistic power of the month of Adar that we celebrate with joy during the holiday of Purim, when the evil plans of Haman were overturned.              

During Av we curtail our rejoicing so that we can focus on more serious matters, and in so doing repair our relationships others. During Adar, however, we increase rejoicings, because it is a time when we acknowledge that we can be saved from any situation, no matter how dire.


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