Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Adar: From despair to joy in the blink of an eye

Haman begging the mercy of Esther / Rembrandt

During the partial solar eclipse in the beginning of 2011, I blogged about the uniqueness of the Jewish calendar, and the place that Adar Bet plays in synchronizing the solar and lunar cycles of the Jewish calendar. Now, before Rosh Chodesh Adar Alef this Friday-Saturday, I'll write a bit more about the significance of Adar, the differences and similarities between Adar Alef and Adar Bet, which occurs this year, and Purim.

Rebbe Nachman teaches that all beginnings used to come from Pesach, but that now, they come from Purim. (This is especially relevant for me, considering that I returned to Israel as an observant Jew awaiting Mashiach after many years away on Rosh Chodesh Adar last year...after I dreamt of a petek (note) that read 'Purim b'Uman').

Purim is the time of nahafoch hu - the point at which opposites meet. Everything can turn from bad to good - for an individual, for Am Yisrael, and for the world - in one moment. Teshu'at Hashem K'Heref Ayin - Hashem's help comes in the blink of an eye. This is especially relevant today, as Israel is losing 'friends', left and right. The situation can seem bleak, but Hashem is in contol, and netzach Yisrael lo yishaker - There is no betrayal for the Eternal of Israel.

Adar is also the month of joy. The rabbis taught that if a person has an upcoming trial against a non-Jew, he should try to have the trial fall in the month of Adar. Since this year there are 2 Adars, there is twice as much eit ratzon, or time when we are judged with compassion. Adar is also a time of increased love between Jews and feelings of oneness with the Jewish people. At Sinai, we stood as one when we received Torah, and peace and love among us, rich to poor, famous to simple, Tunisian to Canadian, young to old, etc, is the vessel through which we are blessed.

The Purim story tells the story of the attempts of Persian minister to bring about a death sentence for the entire Jewish people (sound familiar?), as a result of a Jew's loyalty to Hashem. Through the efforts of a Jewish spy-queen, the tables are turned, the minister is hung, the loyal Jew is honored, and the people are victorious (now let's eat). Purim is a celebration of the reversal of bad fate, and the ability of things to turn from entirely doomsdayish to entirely sweetened (b"H).

Today, Iran is calling for Israel to be wiped off the map, and all the international community can offer are weak sanctions, giving Iran time to perfect its weaponry. Last week, the British Guardian published a letter justifying the killing of Israeli Jews for political goals, and then published a defense of that letter. All across the Western world (Edom), Israel's right to build homes and defend itself is being challenged. After the recent events in Egypt, many in Israel are questioning whether the seemingly rock-solid U.S. military and financial support will withstand future crises. Hezbollah is already ruling Lebanon on Israel's northern border, and events in Egypt are likely to bring about a Muslim Brotherhood - Hamas regime on its southern border. Islamist sentiment is also fermenting in Jordan and Syria following the events in Egypt.

Thus Israel is facing real geopolitical threats on its key borders, and real political/cultural threats from key policymakers around the world. Ishmael and Edom, who have intermittently taken turns at pestering us, are now both against or turning against us. Suddenly it feels like no one is with us....and that is what many discussions of the Messianic era forsee, that Israel (not to mention every individual on a personal level, Hashem should help) will be increasingly isolated into a corner and threatened from all sides (just open the book of Daniel or Zecharia), putting us in a situation that ein lanu al mi lehisha'en ki im al avinu shebashamayim -- we have no one to trust other than our Abba in Shamayim!!

In last week's Dvar Malchut, a weekly collection of teachings of the seven Chabad Rebbes on the Parsha, the Rebbe teaches that although we might think that the phrase 'As soon as Adar begins, joy increases' refers only to Adar Bet, since Adar Bet is the home of Purim, it actually applies to Adar Alef as well, because the dictum itself rests on the principle of increase, thereby naturally extending to Adar Alef. The ingrained nature of joy is to spread. LaYehudim Haita Ora V'Simcha V'Sasson V'Yikar Ken Tehiyeh Lanu - in he end of the day, the Jews in Persia had light and joy and celebration and honor, may it be so for us as well!

משנכנס אדר מרבין בשמחה!!!!!!

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