The month of Adar


Adar has begun. This is a leap year, so we get a double helping of joy. 

Adar is about happiness, miracles and transforming darkness to light. Usually, Purim is in Adar. In a leap year, it falls in Adar ב ‬(Adar II). If Purim is delayed, is Adar I still meant to be joyful, or are there other themes we should be considering? Next month, Nisan, has a New Year (Pesach), according to the ritual cycle. Thus, Adar is the last month of the ritual year – a time to reflect on endings and beginnings, and how time spirals through our lives. 

Moses’ birthday and the day of his death were in Adar – a joyful birth dampened by danger; a death marking the dawning of a new age as the Israelites return to their land just as their leader leaves them forever. Normally, we hold the joy and the bittersweetness of Adar together. Perhaps in a leap year, we are invited to sit in preparation for the ending of the ritual year yet, before the end actually comes, we have extra time to root deeply and intentionally into joy. We delay mourning to celebrate Shabbat. So too can we delay year’s end while celebrating joy with abandon. 

Since October 7th many people are feeling a daily heaviness. Whether we mourn the loss of soldiers and the plight of hostages, are saddened by the need for war, troubled by the suffering of all affected, advocating and praying for an immediate end to violence – wherever we find ourselves on the diverse range of Jewish responses, and especially as we feel the pain of how our different perspectives divide us – we are all struggling. Might the double portion of Adar help us to suspend this heaviness and strife? To set aside our divisions and sadness and lean exclusively into joy? 

That we survived all the trials of our shared history is nothing short of a miracle. That we are alive today to stand up for values we believe in – to fight for Israel, peace, and humanity – is something to be celebrated. Bravery isn’t only soldiers and liberators – bravery is one woman using her voice to save her people; one man refusing to bow to the rulers of the day. 

In these months of Adar, contemplate how to end this cycle  – how to find light and joy, even in dark, difficult days.

Temple Israel

• Published in the March 2024 issue – Click here to start reading.

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