Adar is the most joyous of months. As the Talmud teaches, “When the month of Adar enters we increase our joy.”
By Rabbi Ari Enkin, Rabbinic Director, United with Israel
In a Jewish leap year, there are two Adars. While on the secular calendar, a leap year means the addition of an extra day at the end of February (Feb. 29th – my birthday!), a Jewish leap year means the addition of an extra month.
The primary reason for Adar joy is because Adar is the month in which Purim is celebrated. While we have lots to share with you on Purim, in short it is the holiday that commemorates the salvation of the Jewish People from the evil Haman’s attempt to exterminate them. The Book of Esther tells the entire Purim story and is read twice over the course of the holiday.
Another exciting fact is that Adar is the month in which Moses was born, as well as the month in which he died. To be exact, he was born on the 7th of Adar and died on the 7th of Adar 120 years later. Although we know when Moses was born and died, we don’t know where he was buried. The Torah simply tells us that he was buried in the area of Mount Nebo, which is a tremendous mountain range across the Jordan.
Many people fast on the 7th of Adar based on the teaching that the day a righteous person died is an auspicious day for forgiveness. At the same time, there is a custom for Jewish burial societies around the world to hold a banquet on the 7th of Adar – usually at night so that those who choose to fast on the 7th of Adar can do so. This banquet, or other type of gathering, is representative of a number of things. For one, it is an opportunity to celebrate Moses’s life.
It is also used to reflect on the holy work in which Jewish burial societies engage. Indeed, members of the burial society are almost always volunteers who prepare bodies for burial. It also recalls that Moses’ death was perhaps the single Jewish burial in history that did not need a Jewish burial society – we are taught that God Himself buried Moses!