The Month of Adar: Making Room for G-d
"When Adar enters we increase in joy."
(Talmud Ta'anit 26b)
We are commanded to increase our joy (simcha) with the onset of the month of Adar. What is joy, what is simcha? The Declaration of Independence of the United States guarantees, among other freedoms, "the pursuit of Happiness." For the Jewish nation, the pursuit of happiness, or simcha, is the pursuit of mitzvot. For by fulfilling the commandments that G-d has entrusted us with, we are also fulfilling our own purpose in life. And this fulfillment leads to happiness. The Adar experience crescendos with the celebration of Purim, on the 14th and 15th days of the month. Little surprise then that included in the Purim rebirth of the Jewish nation, as recorded in the book of Esther, is the nation's recommitment to the Oral Torah. For the Oral Torah, the instruction of our sages, provides for us the understanding and the means of fulfilling the Biblical commandments.
The plot thickens when we consider how the name Adar, by separating the syllables, can be read as A - dar, or in Hebrew, Aleph - dar. Aleph , the first letter of the Hebrew alphabet, and possessing the numerical value of one, is often understood as a reference to the one G-d. Dar, in Hebrew, means "to dwell." Together, the name Adar can be understood to mean "G-d dwells." And where does G-d dwell? Why in this world, of course! And how do we make room for G-d in our world? By doing His will, by keeping His commandments. Worshipping a distant G-d is neither what G-d desires, nor is it what our souls demand! By performing G-d's commandments - mitzvot - we attach ourselves to Him, we establish His presence in this world.
This is the message of the upcoming Shabbat Torah reading, Terumah , (Exodus 25:1-27:19), in which Moshe Rabbeinu, (our master Moses), is told by G-d to accept terumah - donations - "from everyone whose heart impels him to give." (ibid 25:2) These donations are intended for the building of the tabernacle, (mishkan), in the desert. G-d Himself states, "They shall make Me a sanctuary, and I will dwell among them." ( ibid 25:8) By building a place for G-d - a sanctuary, by allowing our hearts to impel us to do so, is to literally invite G-d's presence into our lives. This is true on an individual level. How much more so on a national level. How wonderful would it be for all nations of the world to dedicate their national wills toward the creation of a sanctuary for the one G-d of Israel, so that He could dwell amongst the nations. This, of course, is the Holy Temple, the Beit HaMikdash, the permanent manifestation of the desert tabernacle whose construction is begun in this week's Torah reading.
The historical tale related in the scroll of Esther, which is read on Purim, itself is the story of the struggle of the exiled Jews to rebuild the Holy Temple that was destroyed by Nebuchadnezzar some seventy years earlier. Their struggle is against their own complacency, and against the evil intentions of Ahasuerus and Haman, who celebrate the destruction of the Holy Temple, and anticipate and welcome what they hope to be G-d's disappearance from this world, and with it, the demise of the Jewish nation.
We share that same twin struggle today, both against our own inner complacency, and against the very real tyrants who daily trample upon G-d's Holy Temple, and seek to purge His presence from the world. Only by arming ourselves with the great joy of fulfilling His word, will we be blessed with the courage and fortitude to persevere in the fulfillment of G-d's command: "They shall make Me a sanctuary, and I will dwell among them." ( ibid 25:8)
To learn more about about the spiritual and historical background of the Purim story, and to see how it compares to our struggle against today's lies and provocations being uttered by the enemies of the G-d of Israel against His people and His dwelling place on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem, please tune in to this week's TEMPLE TALK, with Rabbi Chaim Richman and Yitzchak Reuven.
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