Thursday, February 3, 2011

Bnei Yisasschar on Rosh Chodesh Adar

The following is adapted from a shiur given by Deena Tzippora Gerber in Jerusalem on Rosh Chodesh Adar Alef 5771.

Rosh Chodesh Adar, the celebration of the beginning of the month of Adar, begins Thursday night, Feb. 3 and lasts through Saturday night, Feb. 5th. This year, there is an extra month inserted into the Jewish calendar in order to synchronize the lunar and solar cycles (that's the reason that Chanukah always falls in the winter, as opposed to Ramadan, which is on a purely lunar calendar and therefore sometimes falls in the summer and sometimes in the winter).

Although we conventionally think that the extra month is Adar Bet, the extra month is actually Adar Alef, since, as we know, Purim falls in Adar Bet, and therefore Adar Alef is the wildcard, unknown month. As we know that Adar is a month associated with joy, auspicious times for the Jewish people, the unity of opposites and redemption, this means that Thursday night begins a period of an extra, "free" month of joy and eit ratzon (period of divine compassion, listening).

According to the kabbalistic text Bnei Yissaschar, the month of Adar is associated with the zodiac sign of Pisces, the fish, symbolizing the ability to swim in water and derive life from it, rather than become overpowered by water, such as in the floods in the time of Noah. Today we are witnessing heaving floody worldwide. Water can have both a chaotic quality and a life-giving quality. Torah and mitzvot, symbolized by the symbol of the bucket, associated with the month of Shvat and the character of Moses, enables us to hold, carry and use water in a way that gives life, rather than be subsumed by it.

Adar is also connected with the tribe of Naftali. The root of the word Naftali is debatable, but Rashi connects it to the word 'p'til', which describes canisters who have a lid so tight that even in a setting of impurity they remain intact and maintain their purity. This represents Queen Esther, who even inside a foreign hostile king's palace remained completely whole and committed to her people and their purpose in history.

Purim, which occurs in Adar Bet, has a deep connection with Yom Kippur (some say Yom Kippur = Yom K'Purim, or 'a day like Purim'). On Yom Kippur, we received the second tablets, after Moses broke the first, after the people sinned at the Golden Calf. Purim in a similar way is a time for internalizing the Torah, and reestablishing emunah in the heart after losing the connection in exile.

The angel associated with the month of Adar is the angel Avrachiel, which literally means 'I will bless God'. The name also alludes to the concept of 'havracha', which means planting a limp, bent-over branch of a tree into the ground, generating a new tree. Adar is the beginning of the individual and collective revitalization, instigated by miracles after a long dry-spell of exile.

Rebbe Nachman teaches that the terrifying feeling that God has abandoned a person can be transformed into the highest level of Ayeh, the seeking of highest and most hidden manifestations of God in places where he has yet to be found.

A lot is scheduled to happen on Thursday-Friday-Saturday of this week. A large cyclone is headed for Australia, 30,000 people have evacuated. A huge storm is affecting over 100 million people across the US. A day of rage is planned on Saturday against Syrian leader Assad. Egypt is in a state of chaos and world leaders are clueless as to how to respond. Let's hope that God's purpose and guiding hand become clear and that Adar is a time of  ליהודים היתה אורה ושמחה ששון ויקר כן תהיה לנו

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