Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Spirit of the Law: Purim I: Month of Adar

Kitzur Shulchan Aruch, Chapter 141, 1

1) From the onset of Adar one should magnify his joy. (Mishenichnas Adar marbim b’simcha.) If a Jew has an altercation with a non-Jew he should take him to court during Adar since it is an auspicious time.

The Ohev Yisrael, zt"l, writes that the word “b’simcha” has the same numerical value as the word “shana,” year.[1] The more b’simcha, joyous, one is during Adar, the more joy one will experience the entire year!

The Chidushei HaRim, zt"l, states that just as we go into the illumination of Tishrei through Elul, we attain the dveikus, or intimate connection with Hashem, of Nisan through Adar. In Adar, our repentance is born of love and is stronger than the teshuva of Elul which is rooted in fear.

The Divrei Shmuel explains the deeper meaning of the preference to take a gentile to court during this month. On a deeper level, this refers to judging the non-Jew within us which is the aspect of Amalek within. One who has difficulty struggling with the negative inside himself (and who doesn’t in our generation?) overcomes this with much greater ease during Adar.

The Chidushei HaRim writes further that Adar is a conjunction of the phrase Aleph-Dar (א-דר=אדר). Aleph refers to Hashem, sometimes known as Alufo Shel Olam, the lofty One of the universe, and dar literally means dwells.[2] This means that during the month of Adar, due to the boundless joy we experience, it is easier for us to become a dwelling place for Hashem.

Chazal say, “One who wishes to preserve his property should plant an Adar on it,” which could mean either planting a type of tree known as an adar, which is usually understood to be a maple, or to plant the tree during the month of Adar. As it says in Tehilim (93:4,) "Adir bamarom Hashem”—“Hashem is All Powerful on High." But what does the verse have to do with securing one’s material wealth? The Chashva L’teshuva, zt"l, explains that the needs of every Jew are allocated from heaven. The reason why people lack is because their heavenly allotment is being withheld. What should one do to avoid losing out, then? “Plant an adar.” Adar refers to one who is steadfast as a mighty maple in his faith that Hashem is All Powerful!

Once, two friends met and one complained to the other that things were very difficult financially. He was literally at the end of his rope and didn’t know what to do or where to turn.

“Well,” responded his friend, “Rebbe Nachman writes that ‘one who is always happy will succeed.’ So I recommend that you strive a to feel happy all the time.”

“But that is one of the most difficult things to do! How can I possibly work towards such a lofty goal?” complained the disgruntled man.

Nu, what won’t people do to make a living?” his friend answered.

[1] Both equal 355. (ב=2 ש=300 מ=40 ח=8 ה=5 & ש=300 נ=50 ה=5)

[2] To this day an apartment in Hebrew is called a “dirah.”

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