Chodesh Tov!! Here are a few words on the joyous month of Adar! This is a joyous month for various reasons; it wasn’t just the Purim story that marks this month as glorious. In fact the Talmud relates, "When Adar arrives, we increase our happiness." (Gemara Taanit 29a).
The 3rd of Adar was the anniversary of the completion of the Second Temple, which was built by the Torah Scribe, Ezra and the Davidic leader at the time, Zerubavel. The Second Temple took four years to build. The Second temple was finished only few years after the end of the Purim Story, to find out more about the time period of the building of the Second Beit Hamikdash, check out the book of Ezra.
The 7th Adar is the date of birth, of arguably the greatest Jewish leader of all time, Moshe. His circumcision took place on the 14th of Adar.
The 14th of Adar is also famous for the salvation of the Jewish people from Haman’s plot to destroy the Jewish nation (Megillat Esther 9:17), something I will elaborate on more in due coarse in my Purim Dvar Torah.
The 15th Adar is the day after Purim, know as Shushan Purim. Actually two days prior, the 13th of Adar is the ‘Fast of Esther’ (Taanit Esther), commemorating Esther’s fast, when she was going to request something off Achashvairosh, risking her own life.
It is customary on Purim to give presents to fellow friends, comprising of a minimum of two foods, the gift is named ‘Mishloach Manot.’ The gift is meant to ensure that everyone has enough food for the Purim feast held later in the day, and to promote an increase in love and friendship among Jews as a counter force against Haman's assertion that the Jewish people are characterized by strife and disunity (Megillat Esther 9:22/ Gemara Megillah 7).
The 23rd of Adar is famous as the day that the Mishkan (Tabernacle) was inaugurated for the first time, it was not until the 1st of Nissan that it was erected permanently (Shemot 40:17).
The inauguration process lasted between 23rd – 29th Adar. It was Moshe who had the role as High priest and Aaron and his four sons took the priesthood roles. Aaron’s four sons were, Eliezer, Ithamar, Nadav and Abihu. We will see later on in Parshat Shemini, how Nadav and Avihu die. The Mishkan was especially joyous as Hashem’s divine presence rested in the Tabernacle.
On an unhappy note, the date of the 27th of Adar is the anniversary of the death of the last great Jewish King, Zedekiah (Jeremiah 52:11). He was the last king of the royal house of David to reign in the Holy Land. He ascended the throne in the year 434 BCE, after King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylonia (to whom the Kingdom of Judah was then subject) exiled King Jeconiah (Zedekiah's nephew) to Babylonia.
In 425 BCE Zedekiah rebelled against the Babylonian rule, and Nebuchadnezzar went to attack Jerusalem (in Tevet 10 of that year); two years later, the walls of Jerusalem were penetrated, the city conquered, the Beit Hamikdash was destroyed, and the people of Yehudah exiled to Babylonia. Zedekiah tried escaping through a tunnel leading out of the city, however he was captured; his sons were killed in front of him, and then he was blinded (Jeremiah 52:10).
Zedekiah was stuck in the royal dungeon in Babylonia until Nebuchadnezzar's death in 398 BCE (25 years later). Evil Meroduch, Nebuchadnezzar's son and successor, freed him (and his nephew Jeconiah) on the 27th of Adar; however Zedikiah died that same day. He was a great Jewish King.
Zedikiah was obviously not the only Jew to die, sanctifying G-d’ name, many famous stories throughout Jewish history, include, Hanna and her 7 sons (Gemara Gittin 57b), the mass amount of Jews during the First and Second World Wars, the Jews in Beitar after 50 years after the destruction of Second Temple, the era of the Spanish Inquisition and many more! The Talmud actually says of those who died a death which sanctifies the name of Hashem, that their place in the world to come is beyond the reach of any created being (Bava Batra 10b).
During the Talmudic era, Adar 28th used to be a joyous day and celebrated to commemorate the rescinding of a Roman decree against Brit Mila, Torah study and keeping the Shabbat.
These decrees were initially formulated, as the Roman’s knew if the Jews would be unable to practice and observe these, it would lead to assimilation. The decree was annihilated through the efforts of the great Rabbi Yehudah ben Shamua and his fellow rabbis (Gemara Rosh Hashana 19).
Hope you all have a fantastic week and enjoy this fantastic month! Watch this space for a Dvar Torah on Parshat Terumah. This Dvar Torah is dedicated in memory of David Ben Nissan, who was a very reightous man, may his soul be resting in a good place.