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The Month of Adar: The Month of Joy

 

The month of Adar, the month of the Purim celebration and the month of preparations for the upcoming Passover festival contains eight days of special significance. Use our guide below to learn about these eight days. Click on the image to learn about the day which is being highlighted in green. Enjoy!

 

The Half-Shekel Contribution

 

Rosh Chodesh Adar - the first day of the new month of Adar, the twelth and final month of the yearly cycle that begins with Nisan, ("the first of your months" Exodus 12:2), the month of the exodus from Egypt. When the Holy Temple is standing and the Divine service is being performed daily, the month of Adar is full of preparations for the upcoming Passover pilgrimage festival which begins on the 15th of Nisan. In addition, the month of Adar is the month that the half-shekel is collected.

Shekolim is the name of the group of verses, (Exodus 30:11-16), read in synagogues throughout the world on the first Shabbat of the month of Adar. This year it is read on the Shabbat that immediately precedes Rosh Chodesh. It is as follows:

"And the L-rd spoke to Moses, saying: When you take the sum of the children of Israel after their number, then shall they give every man a ransom for his soul to the L-rd, when you number them; that there be no plague among them, when you number them. This they shall give, every one that passes among them that are numbered, half a shekel after the shekel of the sanctuary, (a shekel is twenty gera), a half shekel shall be the offering of the L-rd. Every one that passes among them that are numbered, from twenty years old and above, shall give the offering of the L-rd. The rich shall not give more, and the poor shall not give less than half a shekel, when they give the offering of the L-rd, to make atonement for your souls. And you shall take the atonement money of the children of Israel, and shall appoint it for the service of the Tent of Meeting; that it may be a memorial to the children of Israel before the L-rd, to make atonement for your souls."

The half-shekel contribution was given annually for over a thousand years, being interrupted only by Nebuchadnezzar, whose army destroyed the first Holy Temple. The collection of the half-shekel was reintroduced by Nechemia and the returnees from Babylon, in preparation for the reconstruction of the altar and the rebuilding of the Holy Temple. It was halted once more by Titus, the Roman destroyer of the second Holy Temple, in the year 70 ce, and finally banished by the emperor Hadrian some 65 years later.

On the first day of the month of Adar, the public would be notified that the time had come to prepare for the half-shekel contribution. Collection stations would be set up in all the cities and villages of the land of Israel, as well as abroad. The annual half-shekel contribution provided the perfect vehicle for all the nation of Israel, both those of greater means, and those of lesser means, to express their concern and love for G-d and for His Holy Temple.

Having completed the local collections, emissaries would then transport the money to Jerusalem, where it would be collected and deposited into the Chamber of the Half-Shekel - located within the Temple Mount complex. Three times during the year the priestly treasurer would fill each of three separate coffers with the half-shekel coins. Three times a year the priestly treasurer would reenter the chamber in order to distribute the money as needed. And what were the half-shekel coins used for? For the purchase of animals for the communal sacrifices, such as the daily offering, and the festival offerings. In addition, the half-shekel contribution was used for the maintenance and enhancement of the Holy Temple and its many chambers and courtyards. The treasurer who entered the chamber was forbidden from dressing in an ostentatious manner, so as to alleviate any suspicion of him having dipped into the coffers for personal gain!

Today we are on the historical eve of the rebuilding of the Holy Temple and the renewal of the Divine service. An unprecedented spiritual awakening in Israel and around the globe, spearheaded, in great part, by the Temple Institute, is making this reality more achievable than ever before. The half-shekel contribution is every bit a relevant and meaningful expression of devotion to G-d and the rebuilding of His Holy Temple, as it was in the past. We take this opportunity to encourage all who want to play an active role in this great undertaking, to make this upcoming month of Adar, the month of the half-shekel contribution.

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Adar 7: Date of the birth and the death of Moses

 

Moses, the greatest prophet of Israel, was born and died on the 7th day of Adar. It is characteristic of the righteous of Israel that the day which makes their entrance into this world, is the same calendar date which marks their departure from this world and entry into the next world. This is a manifestation of the principle that the righteous fill their days and their years with their good deeds. Therefore, the years of their lives reach perfect completion before they depart from the world.

The evil Haman, who sought to destroy the Jews of the Persian empire of Achashverosh, discovered that the anniversary of Moses' death was the 7th of Adar. His plans called for the slaughter of the Jews the following week. Haman thought that no doubt that the spiritual rhythm of Israel would naturally be at an ebb during this period of the year, leaving them particularly vunerable and unable to thwart his intentions. What Haman was unaware of was the fact that the 7th of Adar was also the anniverary of Moses' birth! Far from finding Israel at a moment of darkness, Haman's conspiracy transpired during a particularly propitious time for Israel!

"For You are not a G-d Who desires wickedness; evil does not abide with You.
Confused people shall not stand before Your eyes; You hate all workers of iniquity.
You destroy speakers of lies; the L-rd abhors a man of blood and deceit.
But I, with Your great loving-kindness, shall enter Your House; I shall prostrate myself toward Your Holy Temple in the fear of You."
(Psalms 5:5-8)

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Adar 13: The Fast of Esther

 

From the scroll of Esther, chapter four, verses nine through seventeen:

And Hathach came, and he told Esther what Mordecai had said.

And Esther said to Hathach, and she ordered him to [tell] Mordecai:

"All the king's servants and the people of the king's provinces know that any man or woman who comes to the king, into the inner court, who is not summoned, there is but one law for him, to be put to death, except the one to whom the king extends the golden scepter, that he may live, but I have not been summoned to come to the king these thirty days."

And they told Esther's words to Mordecai.

And Mordecai ordered to reply to Esther, "Do not imagine to yourself that you will escape in the king's house from among all the Jews.

For if you remain silent at this time, relief and rescue will arise for the Jews from elsewhere, and you and your father's household will perish; and who knows whether at a time like this you will attain the kingdom?"

Then Esther ordered to reply to Mordecai:

"Go, assemble all the Jews who are present in Shushan and fast on my behalf, and neither eat nor drink for three days, day and night; also I and my maidens will fast in a like manner; then I will go to the king contrary to the law, and if I perish, I perish."

So Mordecai passed and did according to all that Esther had commanded him.

Esther ordered the entire house of Israel to fast on her behalf, to beseech G-d to grant her protection and success as she approached King Achashverosh to convince him to foil Haman's evil plans.

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The reading of Zachor

 

"Remember what Amalek did to you on the road, on your way out of Egypt. That he encountered you on the way and cut off those lagging to your rear, when you were tired and exhausted; he did not fear G-d. And it shall come to pass, when the L-rd your G-d has given you rest from all your enemies round about, in the land which the L-rd your G-d is giving you for an inheritance to possess it, that you shall obliterate the memory of Amalek from under the heavens. Do not forget." (Deuteronomy 25:17-19)

Amalek was the first nation to attack Israel after the exodus from Egypt. Amalek's vicious and hateful attack of Israel, with no reason or rationale, has proven an architype for the enemies of Israel and the G-d of Israel throughout the ensuing millennia. Haman, who, without provocation, also sought to eradicate the nation of Israel and to thwart forever the rebuilding of the Holy Temple, which had already begun in Jerusalem, was a biological, as well as spiritual descendant of Amalek.

These verses from Deuteronomy known as parashat Zachor, (Remember!) are read on the Shabbat preceding the Purim celebration. By reading these words, we remind ourselves of G-d's love for Israel, and also of the implacable hatred of our enemies. Pity our enemies don't likewise read these same words. It might just convince them of the utter futility of all their ill-conceived efforts!

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Adar 14: Purim

 

From the scroll of Esther, chapter eight, verses seven through seventeen:

"Then King Ahasuerus said to Queen Esther and to Mordecai the Jew, "Behold the house of Haman I have given to Esther, and they have hanged him on the gallows because he laid a hand on the Jews.

And you-write about the Jews as you see fit, in the name of the king, and seal [it] with the king's ring, for a writ that is written in the name of the king and sealed with the king's ring cannot be rescinded."

And the king's scribes were summoned at that time, in the third month-that is the month of Sivan-on the twenty-third day thereof, and it was written according to all that Mordecai commanded, to the Jews and to the satraps and the governors, and the princes of the provinces from Hodu to Cush, a hundred and twenty-seven provinces, every province according to its script and every nationality according to its tongue, and to the Jews according to their script and according to their tongue.

And he wrote in the name of King Ahasuerus and sealed it with the king's ring, and he sent letters by the couriers on horseback, the riders of the king's steeds-the camels, bred of the dromedaries that the king had given to the Jews who are in every city, [the right] to assemble and to protect themselves, to destroy, to slay, and to cause to perish the entire host of every people and province that oppress them, small children and women, and to take their spoils for plunder.

In one day, in all the provinces of King Ahasuerus, on the thirteenth of the twelfth month, which is the month of Adar.

The copy of the writ was that an edict be given in every province, published before all the peoples, and that the Jews be ready for that day, to avenge themselves upon their enemies.

The couriers, those who ride the king's steeds, the camels, went out hastened and pressed by the king's order, and the edict was given in Shushan the capital.

And Mordecai left the king's presence with royal raiment, blue and white and a huge golden crown and a wrap of linen and purple, and the city of Shushan shouted and rejoiced.

The Jews had light and joy, and gladness and honor.

And in every province and in every city, wherever the king's order and his edict reached, [there was] joy and gladness for the Jews, a banquet and a festive day, and many of the peoples of the land became Jews because the fear of the Jews was upon them."

Chapter nine, verses sixteen and seventeen:

"And the rest of the Jews who were in the king's provinces assembled and protected themselves and had rest from their enemies and slew their foes, seventy-five thousand, but upon the spoil they did not lay their hands on the thirteenth of the month of Adar, and they rested on the fourteenth thereof, and made it a day of feasting and joy."

Today Purim is marked by the reading of the scroll of Esther, distributing mishloach manot (gifts of food) to friends and neighbors, giving tzedakah (charity) to the less fortunate, and partaking of a festive meal.

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Adar 15: Shushan Purim

 

From the scroll of Esther, chapter nine, verse eighteen:

"And the Jews who were in Shushan assembled on the thirteenth thereof and on the fourteenth thereof, and rested on the fifteenth thereof, and made it a day of feasting and joy."

The counter-uprising of the Jews lasted an additional day in the Persian capital of Purim. Therefore the Jews of Shushan didn't celebrate their victory until the fifteenth of the month, one day after their brethren in the outlying provinces. Shushan was a walled city, and to this day, Jews who live in cities which have been walled since antiquity, likewise celebrate Purim in the fifteenth day of Adar. This is the custom of the Jews of Jerusalem.

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Parashat Para

 

"The Lord spoke to Moses and Aaron, saying:

This is the statute of the Torah which the Lord commanded, saying, Speak to the children of Israel and have them take for you a perfectly red unblemished cow, upon which no yoke was laid." (Numbers 19:1-2)

The third special Shabbat Torah reading of the month of Adar is known as parashat Para - the instruction concerning the preparation of the Red Heifer, contained in the book of Numbers, chapter nineteen, verses one through ten. This is part of Israel's preparation for the upcoming Passover festival. On the eve of Passover all of Israel is required to ascend to the Holy Temple with their Passover offering. In order to make this ascent (aliya), one must first be in a heightened state of ritual purity. To attain this level of purity one must be sprinkled with the ashes of the red heifer. To learn more about the mystery of the red heifer and the Divine promise of purity, please click here.

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Parashat HaChodesh

 

"The L-rd spoke to Moses and to Aaron in the land of Egypt, saying, This month shall be to you the head of the months; to you it shall be the first of the months of the year. Speak to the entire community of Israel, saying, "On the tenth of this month, let each one take a lamb for each parental home, a lamb for each household." (Exodus 12:1-3)

The fourth and final special Shabbat Torah reading of the month of Adar, known as parashat HaChodesh, (The [New] Month), is found in the book of Exodus, chapter twelve, verses one through twenty. These verses describe the first commandments Israel received, even before leaving Egypt: the determination of the month of Nisan as the first of the months, and the preparations for the Passover offering. Parashat HaChodesh is read on the Shabbat immediately preceding Rosh Chodesh Nisan, the first day of the month of Nisan, the month of the Passover pilgrimage festival.

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