On Shabbos Parshas Shekalim we bentch Rosh Chodesh Adar, the month that concludes the lunar year cycle and marks the last of the six winter months. As Rosh Chodesh falls on Yom Rishon and Yom Sheni (Sunday and Monday), Shabbos Mevorchim coincides with erev Rosh Chodesh.
Parshas Shekalim is the first of the Arbah Parshiyos read on the Shabbos of their relevancy, continuing up to Rosh Chodesh Nissan. These are Parshas Shekalim, Parshas Zachor, Parshas Parah and Parshas HaChodesh – corresponding to the four elements of creation: fire, water, earth and wind, respectively.
Some of Adar’s significant events: It was on the first of this month that Moshe Rabbeinu began to beseech Hashem to allow him to enter Eretz Yisrael; the third of Adar in the time of Ezra HaSofer marked the joyous dedication of our Bayis Sheni; Moshe Rabbeinu was born on the seventh of Adar; the mon ceased its descent in the midbar on that same date when Moshe Rabbeinu was niftar at the age of 120; the end of the Spanish Inquisition is commemorated on the twenty-fifth of this month.
Adar’s association with mazel (good fortune) and joy is in no small measure due to the machatzis hashekel, the half shekels that were appealed for on the first day of Chodesh Adar in the time of the Bais HaMikdash. According to the Gemara this was the refuah l’maka — the antidote for the blow that was to come in the form of the 10,000 kikar of silver that Haman invested with Achashverosh for the king’s approval to eliminate the Jewish nation.
Haman deluded himself into believing that he had picked the perfect month in which to carry out his diabolical scheme, since the loss of our most influential spiritual leader on the seventh day of Adar would surely render the Jews a vulnerable lot. That Moshe Rabbeinu was born on that same date escaped the rasha, who proved to be oblivious to many other “incidentals.”
The evil Haman regarded anything and anyone Jewish with utter contempt, never in his wildest dreams imagining that a discreet and unassuming Jewish woman would be crowned queen and in due course become the harbinger of his undoing.
In Megillas Esther, our heroine is referred to as Esther and Hadassah — “Esther” (satar –hidden) alluding to her exceptional modesty and reflecting her act of hiding before being taken to the king (and subsequently keeping her true identity secret), and Hadassah suggestive of her virtuousness. The tzaddikim who prevail both in this world and the next are likened to hadassim, the fragrant myrtle bush that endures through summer and winter.
In actuality, a tzaddik’s spiritual energy achieves even greater potency in the hereafter. So much so that Hashem chose to keep Moshe Rabbeinu’s resting place hidden, for had we beseeched our holy leader/teacher/mentor to intercede on our behalf as we were driven into golus following the Churban Bais HaMikdash, God would have hearkened to the pleas of His faithful shepherd. [Maseches Sotah]
Other righteous souls who left this earth for a better place during the month of Adar include: R’ Avraham Ibn Ezra and Shabsai HaKohen – the Shach (1 Adar); R’ Chaim Yosef M’Stropkov (4 Adar); R’ Yehuda HaChassid and R’ Moshe Feinstein (12 Adar); R’ Yosef Chaim Sonnnenfeld (19 Adar); R’ Yoel Sirkis – the Bach (20 Adar); R’ Elimelech of Lizhensk (21 Adar); R’ Yaakov Kamenetsky (29 Adar); R’ Itzele Ponevezher (21 Adar); R’ Menachem Mendel Hager (25 Adar) and Sarah Schenirer – founder of Bais Yaakov movement (26 Adar).
Visiting the graves of tzaddikim on erev Rosh Chodesh has forever been a venerated tradition of Orthodox Jewry, its basis rooted in the belief that the koach of the niftar’s ruach is enhanced during the moon’s renewal phase (and some believe in mid-month/full moon as well). Even the unworthy petitioner stands the chance of having his or her tefilos intercepted at such time through the Tzaddik’s intervention (provided the prayers offered are sincere and wholehearted).
The koach of a tzaddik in his lifetime…
To the bewilderment of those at his tish, Reb Elimelech flipped his bowl of soup over as soon as it was served, the warm liquid creating a widening stain on the tablecloth. The startling move aroused Reb Mendele of Rimanov from deep meditation and he sprung up exclaiming, “Gevald, Rebbe! They will lock us up!”