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January 23, 2017 / 25 Tevet, 5777

Posts Tagged ‘Adar Alef’

Q & A: Two Adars (Part II)

Wednesday, March 2nd, 2011

   QUESTION: I have a few questions regarding the Jewish leap year. Why do we always add a second Adar as opposed to adding a second Tevet or Iyar for example? Why do we call it Adar Alef? Why is Purim celebrated in the second Adar? And which Adar is the real Adar?

Shea Aronovitch

(Via E-Mail)


ANSWER: Adar, the name for the 12th month, was adopted by the Jews from the Babylonian exile. While Jews add a month periodically to the lunar calendar after the twelfth month as per the beraita in Rosh Hashanah (7a) (see also Pesachim 6a), the Babylonians did not. The second of the two Adars is considered the “leap” – or extra – month, which we refer to as Adar Sheni (or Adar Bet).
*     *     *
   As we see it so far, the second Adar is the “leap” month. If so, why do we celebrate Purim in the second Adar? The Mechaber explains (Orach Chayyim 685:1), “If the rosh chodesh of Adar that is closest to Nissan [i.e. Adar II] falls on Shabbat, we read Parashat Shekalim [the first of the four special Torah readings – Shekalim, followed by Zachor, Parah, and finally Parashat Hachodesh].”
   The Mishna Berura (ad loc., citing Rashi on Megilla 29a s.v. “Korin beparashat Shekalim” explains that this is done so that in the time of the existence of the Temple they would bring their shekalim in the month closest to rosh chodesh Nissan in order to be able to bring offerings from rosh chodesh and on from the new shekalim donations.
   Also of interest is the dispute between R. Eliezer b. R. Yosi and Rabban Shimon b. Gamaliel (Megilla 6b) as to whether we perform the mitzvot of Purim – reading the Megilla and giving matanot la’evyonim – gifts to the poor – during the first Adar or the second. R. Eliezer b. R. Yosi is of the opinion that we observe the mitzvot of Purim during the Adar closest to Shevat, just as in all the other years, as the verse states (Esther 9:27), “Bechol shana veshana – each and every year,” and we have a rule of “Ein ma’avirin al hamitzvot – We do not allow a mitzvah to be bypassed,” meaning that we perform it as soon as possible.
   Rabban Shimon b. Gamaliel derives from the same verse that just as Purim is in the Adar closest to Nissan in an ordinary year, so is it in a leap year, so that we may connect the redemption of Purim to the redemption from Egypt. Thus, according to Rabban Shimon b. Gamaliel, whose opinion we follow, Purim during a leap year is celebrated during the second Adar for a reason unrelated to whether that month is the added one.
   Rabbi Dov Aaron Brisman (segan av beit din of the Iggud Horabbanim – Rabbinical Alliance of America, rav, Philadelphia) addresses this matter as well (Responsa Shalmei Chova, Yoreh De’ah 94). He was asked about the proper observance of a yahrzeit for a man who died on the second day of rosh chodesh, which is the first day of Adar. The death occurred during a non-leap year, and the deceased’s son wanted to know when to observe the yahrzeit during a leap year – rosh chodesh of Adar I or Adar II.
   Rabbi Brisman cites Chochmat Adam (171:1), Kitzur Shulchan Aruch (221:3), and Kol Bo (on aveilut), all reflecting the Ashkenazi custom to recite kaddish on that day (in this case, the first of Adar) in both Adars of a leap year.
   However, the fast of the ba’al yahrzeit – the one observing the yahrzeit – is only observed in the first Adar. This ruling is rooted in Rema (Orach Chayyim 568:7), Magen Avraham (op. cit. sk20), and Shach (Yoreh Deah 402:sk11).
   Next, Rabbi Brisman cites the opposing view of the Mechaber (Orach Chayyim 568:7). If the death occurs in Adar during a regular year, the fast is observed on that day in the second Adar of a leap year. Rema posits otherwise – that the fast is observed during the first Adar – unless the deceased died during the second Adar of a leap year.
   In that case, the fast is held during the second Adar of all subsequent leap years. If the death occurred during Adar of a regular year or the first Adar of a leap year, the custom is to fast during the first Adar of leap years. Rema also cites the more stringent view of Mahari Molin to fast on that date in both Adars of a leap year.
   As you see, deciding which is the “real” Adar is not a simple matter and has practical repercussions.

(To be continued)


   Rabbi Yaakov Klass can be contacted at yklass@jewishpress.com.

Rabbi Yaakov Klass

Q & A: Two Adars (Part I)

Wednesday, February 23rd, 2011

QUESTION: I have a few questions regarding the Jewish leap year. Why is Adar the month that is picked for this purpose? Why do we call it Adar Alef? Why is Purim celebrated in the second Adar? Which one of them is the real Adar?

Shea Aronovitch
(Via E-Mail)


ANSWER: We will answer your questions, however, not necessarily in the order that you have asked. First, we deal with the name Adar. The Gemara (Jerusalem Talmud, Rosh Hashanah 1:2) cites Rabbi Chanina who states, “The names of the [Jewish] months were brought up with them [the exiles who returned to the Land of Israel] from Babylonia.” Indeed, these were not the original names, as we see in the various biblical verses that refer to them only in a numerical fashion (as previously discussed in this column regarding the name of the eighth month – Marcheshvan).

The Gemara supports Rabbi Chanina’s statement by citing the following months and their scriptural sources (all post-exile), Nissan in Esther (3:7), Kislev in Nechemia (1:2), and Tevet in Esther (2:5).

Though not included in the Gemara in Rosh Hashanah, through a scriptural search, we find mention of the month of Shevat in Zecharia (1:7), Adar and Nissan in Esther (3:7), Sivan in Esther (8:9), and Elul in Nechemia (6:15), which are all post-exile references found only in the prophets and Hagiographa.

However, we find no scriptural mention of Iyar, Tammuz, Av and Marcheshvan. Our tradition, based on the Gemara’s statement (“The names of the months were brought up with them…”), is that these names, too, were brought up from Babylonia. Indeed, when the exiles came to Babylonia they found a society that used a lunar calendar similar to ours and that they were quite knowledgeable of astronomy.

Eventually, the Babylonian names for the months were popularly adopted. The only names for months that were used were the 12 that we currently use – in the following order: Nissan, Iyar, Sivan, Tammuz, Av, Elul, Tishrei, Marcheshvan, Kislev, Tevet, Shevat, and Adar. This is possibly due to their (the Babylonians, unlike us) having no real need of a leap year. We, on the other hand, need the occasional leap year in order to maintain the seasonal integrity of our festivals.

There was no extra Babylonian name to be used for the purpose of a “leap” month that needed to be added to the Jewish year, and certainly our sages did not create another Babylonian name for that purpose.

As to which of the two Adars is considered the “leap” – or extra – month, it is actually the second, which we refer to as Adar Sheni (or Adar Bet), meaning the second Adar. This is because the Talmud (beraita, Rosh Hashanah 7a) refers to Nissan (the first of the months and that which immediately follows Adar) as the Rosh Hashanah of ibburin – intercalations.

The Gemara concludes that normally (when ibbur was done only through testimony presented to beit din, before our fixed calendar was established), the leap month can only be added before Purim.

The Gemara cites this halacha (Pesachim 6a) to prove the point, “We inquire [study in depth] the laws of Pesach before Pesach for 30 days,” and explains that once they have already begun that study, they will come to violating the laws of chametz (on Pesach).

Rashi (s.v. ‘ati l’zilzulei b’chametz’) explains that this refers to the practice of the rabbis to publicly lecture on the subject of the laws of Pesach for one entire month preceding the festival. Once this process has commenced, people will not accept the testimony of the messengers of beit din that an extra month has been added. In such case, the result will be that they will end up eating chametz on what is actually the “real” Pesach.

(To be continued)

 Rabbi Yaakov Klass can be contacted at yklass@jewishpress.com.

Rabbi Yaakov Klass

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