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A Year And A Day
‘Hashem … Completes the Years of the Righteous’
(Kiddushin 38a)



Our daf states that Moshe Rabbeinu passed away on his birthday, the 7th of Adar, in accordance with the principle that Hashem “completes the years of the righteous [exactly].” Some Rishonim contend that Moshe Rabbeinu passed away on the Sabbath at Mincha time, and that is why we say Tzidkas’cha Tzedek after Mincha on the Sabbath as an expression of Tzidduk HaDin (that we accept the harsher manifestations of Heaven’s justice). However, since tradition has it that Moshe Rabbeinu wrote thirteen sifrei Torah on the day he passed away, it could not possibly have been on a Sabbath (Tosafos, Menachos 31a, s.v. Mikan).


Which Adar Was It?

Some people, particularly Chevra Kaddisha members, observe the custom of fasting on the day of Moshe Rabbeinu’s demise (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayyim 580:2). But in which Adar was Moshe niftar? According to some opinions he died during a leap year in the first month of Adar. Rabbi Yaakov Emdin (Ya’avetz), however, uses our sugya to prove that his death occurred in the month of Adar immediately preceding Passover.

Our sugya tells us that the manna stopped falling on the day of Moshe’s demise. During the following 38 days, until the 16th of Nissan when they entered the Land of Israel and ate of its fruits, the Children of Israel ate the manna remaining in their vessels. Therefore, Moshe could not have passed away during the first month of Adar in a leap year, since then there would have been 68 days between the date of his death and the 16th of Nissan (see She’ilath Yaavetz 1:117 and Siddur Ya’avetz; Responsa Chasam Sofer, Orach Chayyim 163). The Mishna Berura notes that the accepted custom is to fast during the first month of Adar (O.Ch. 163 siman katan 15).


She Died on Her First Wedding Anniversary

The following case was brought before Rabbi Meir Eisenstadt, zt”l (1670-1744), author of Panim Me’iros: A woman had died tragically on the 2nd of Elul 5491, exactly one year after her wedding, which had taken place on the 2nd of Elul 5490. Following her demise, a bitter dispute broke out between the widower and his late wife’s relatives. They claimed that according to a takana (an edict) instituted by Rabbeinu Tam and the French Tosafists, a widower cannot inherit his wife’s estate within a year of their wedding (see Rema, Even HaEzer 52:4). The husband countered that they had already been married for an entire year as of the end of the first of Elul 5491.

Rabbi Eisenstadt discusses this question at length in his Panim Me’iros (2:174), analyzing both sides of the dispute. One of his proofs is based on the statement in our sugya that “Hashem completes the years of the righteous [exactly] from day to day and month to month.” If we say that the second of Elul is already considered the beginning of the second year of marriage, why did Moshe Rabbeinu die on the 7th of Adar? Reason dictates that he would have passed away on the 6th of Adar. Thus, it seems that the 6th of Adar is still considered part of the previous year. Nevertheless, the Panim Me’iros decided that the inheritance should be left to the husband since the matter of the completeness of the year is not clear-cut, and without a solid ruling, the estate should not be taken away from the husband once it is already in his hands.


Haman’s Confusion?

An interesting anecdote relates how Haman picked the date for the annihilation of the Jews. Using sorcery, Haman chose the month of Adar because he assumed that it was the month in which Moshe died and would thus be a month of ill omen for Jews. Haman did not take into account that Adar was also the month in which Moshe was born. Quite likely, his sorcery did not perceive that Moshe was born in Adar I and was niftar in Adar II.

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Rabbi Yaakov Klass is Rav of K’hal Bnei Matisyahu in Flatbush; Torah Editor of The Jewish Press; and Presidium Chairman, Rabbinical Alliance of America/Igud HaRabbonim.