The Temple Institute: The Month of Adar

 

 


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The Month of Adar

The Month of Adar

 

So Adar has arrived, the twelfth and final month of the year - or is it? The Hebrew calendar is based on twelve lunar cycles - twelve new moons: each lunar cycle takes between 29 and 30 days - and that sets the Hebrew year as 354 days long. Yet the three festivals - Pesach, Shavuot and Sukkot - each have been designated specific seasons of the year.

Pesach has been designated the season of the springtime: "and the flax and the barley were smitten, for the barley was in the ear, and the flax was in bloom." (Exodus 9:31) Shavuot is the festival of the first fruits, and Sukkot the festival of the harvest. All festivals are marked out from Pesach and all months are marked out from Nisan, the month of Pesach, the first month: "This month shall be unto to you the beginning of months; it shall be the first month of the year to you."(Exodus 12:2)

Now the lunar year is some eleven days shorter than the solar year, so with the passage of time, the lunar year begins to drift away from the seasons of the earth. And so in order to anchor the lunar year and keep it in sight of the solar cycle, a thirteenth month is created - and this is the Month of Adar.

Adar is the twelfth month, the final month - the month that precedes Nisan, "the first of your months." Seven out of every nineteen years, the month of Adar is doubled: Adar Sheni - "second Adar" - is created. This keeps Nisan - the month of Pesach - in the season of flax and barley - in the springtime - the marking of the vernal equinox. This year - 5765 - is such a "leap" year. Today marks the first of our two Adars.

"This month shall be unto to you the beginning of months; it shall be the first month of the year to you." This was G-d's first commandment to the children of Israel, whilst still in Egypt. They would begin marking this month as the month of the Passover sacrifice and the exodus from Egypt - even though both events still lay ahead of them. This marked G-d's first sharing with His people their divine mission in the life of mankind.

And so over the years, the declaration of the new month - every new month - a divine appointment - was trusted in the hands of the learned elders - the sages. These sages sat in a semi-circle, in a chamber known as the Chamber of Hewn Stone - located in the northern wall of the inner courtyard of the Holy Temple on Mount Moriah. This gathering of elders was known as the Sanhedrin.

A new Sanhedrin sits today in Jerusalem. May G-d grant them the authority to accept testimony and proclaim the new month throughout the land. For the real battle in Israel is the battle over the calendar: for he who controls the calendar, controls the spiritual seasons of all living souls.

 

 

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