7 Adar 1 5765
Rabbi Barry Goldfischer
(Be’er Miriam, Midreshet)
Mishenichnas Adar Marbin Besimcha..
Why during the month of Adar are we instructed to increase the simcha in our lives? Furthermore, how should we view this transition in the context of the month that we just experienced – Chodesh Sh’vat? Rashi informs us that Adar is unique becauseYemei Pesach hayu l’yisrael: Purim vePesach. Rashi hints that we should increase our simcha because in Adar we experience the miracles of Purim and Pesach. At first glance, Rashi is very perplexing. Adar showcases the miracle of Purim which serves to enhance our happiness; however, the miracle of Pesach – the exodus from Mitzrayim – took place in Nissan!
Let us begin by examining Hashem’s motive for redeeming Bnei Yisrael from Mitzrayim. The point of the Exodus was for Bnei Yisrael to accept the Torah. When analyzing the story of Kabbalat HaTorah, we are struck by some very contradicting elements. On the one hand, Bnei Yisrael accepted the Torah with enthusiasm – Naaseh v’nishma. However, the Gemara Shabbat records a very different acceptance. Hashem threatened the Jewish people with death if they did not accept the Torah! In fact, the Gemara continues to compare this forced acceptance to a shtar moda’a – a contract that someone is forced to accept under duress. Such a contract is not halachicly binding! Was the Torah accepted willingly or forced upon Bnei Yisrael?
The Medrash Tanchuma suggests that the enthusiastic acceptance of Torah was on Torah Shebichsav, whereas Torah shebaal peh was forced upon Bnei Yisrael. Since Torah shebaal peh was forced upon them, it was not halachicly binding for many generations. When did this change? The Gemara Shabbat concludes that in the generation of Achashveirosh, Bnei Yisrael reaccepted the Torah mi’ahavas haneis. What type of love generated the acceptance of Torah shebaal peh? When one is in love, one recognizes the importance of details – her favorite ice cream topping, a particular flower to buy her before Shabbat, the one song to play to cheer him up – there is no question, that attention to detail is an expression of profound love.
Purim was not a blatant miracle. The average Jew had to look deeper to recognize the presence and involvement of Hashem. By piecing together the details of the Purim story, it became evident to B’nei Yisrael that Hashem was molding the salvation the entire time. It was the details of the miracle that led the Jews to reaccept the Torah SheBaal Peh. When we learn Torah SheBaal Peh, we look beneath the surface of Torah Shebiksavand analyze Hashem in every facet of life. We engage in a love affair with Hashem as we study every detail of His and our existence.
The simcha of Purim was two-fold; it contained a celebration of the moment and a celebration for the past. The Jewish people’s resounding victory over her adversaries was the celebration of the moment. More importantly, however, Bnei Yisrael celebrated the completion of the Pesach story. Several generations after the Pesach story, the Jews of Purim re-experienced the miracle of Maamad Har Sinai with the enthusiastic and loving acceptance of Torah SheBaal Peh. Ultimately, the story of Purim completes the story of Pesach. In this vein, Adar actually does contain the miracles of both Purim and Pesach.
The simcha of Adar, therefore, can be understood as a simcha of Kabbalat Hatorah. Why does this simcha of Kabbalat Hatorah follow the month of Sh’vat? Sh’vat can be viewed as the point of physical maturation on the calendar. This can be seen on Tu B’sh’vat when the trees begin to blossom and the fruits begin to bud. In the same light, the Shem M’shmuel teaches that the fruits that bud are actually a metaphor for our own fruits – our Mitzvot – which also begin mature at this point on the calender. Since Tishrei, our spiritual growth has been gradual. During the month of She’vat, however, we begin to blossom and mature spiritually. The Ba’alei Mussar tell us that the Month of Shvat is unique for the study of mussar and for self growth. On Rosh Chodesh Shvat, Moshe began to deliver the greatest Mussar drasha of all time: Sefer D’varim. He spoke for 37 days until his death on 7 Adar. Having undergone a month of self growth and spiritual maturation, we are now prepared to begin the avodah of the acceptance of Torah in the month of Adar.