Category: Jewish holidays
Rosh Chodesh or Rosh Hodesh (Hebrew: ראש חודש; trans. Beginning of the Month; lit. Head of the Month) is the name for the first day of every month in the Hebrew calendar, marked by the birth of a new moon. It is considered a minor holiday, akin to the intermediate days of Passover and Sukkot.
The Book of Exodus establishes the beginning of the Hebrew calendar:
"And the LORD spoke unto Moses and Aaron in the land of Egypt, saying: 'This month shall mark for you the beginning of the months; it shall be the first of the months of the year for you.'" (12:1-2)
In the Book of Numbers, God speaks of the celebration of the new moon to Moses:
"And on your joyous occasions - your fixed festivals and new moon days - you shall sound the trumpets over your burnt offerings and your sacrifices of well-being." (10:10)
In Psalm 81:3, both new and full moon are mentioned as a time of recognition by the Hebrews:
"Blow the trumpet at the time of the New Moon, at the full moon, on our solemn feast day. For this is a statute for Israel, a law of the God of Jacob."
The occurrence of Rosh Chodesh was originally confirmed on the testimony of witnesses observing the new moon. After the Sanhedrin declared Rosh Chodesh for either a full month or a defective, 29-day month, news of it would then be communicated throughout Israel and the diaspora.
A custom was developed in which an additional day could be added to the month to ensure that certain holidays (such as Yom Kippur) did not fall on the days before or after Shabbat.
The Month of Adar
Beginning of new Hebrew month of Adar. Adar is the 12th month of the Hebrew year. Corresponds to February or March on the Gregorian calendar. Even in the event of a leap year, when a second Adar is added to the regular twelve months, the second Adar is also called the twelfth month. Thus, it is written in Megilat Esther: "And in the twelfth month, which is the month of Adar;" which, according to Tradition, was the second Adar of a leap year.
In an ordinary (that is, non-leap) year, there is only one Adar, namely Adar I. In a leap year, there are two Adar’s: Adar I and Adar II. Adar I (and we only refer to an Adar as Adar I when there is also an Adar II) is always "full;" that is, it contains thirty days. Also, the Adar closest to Nisan (either regular Adar in a non-leap year, or Adar II in a leap year) is always "not full;" that is, twenty nine days.
In a regular (non-leap) year, the following is true:
Shevat is thirty days. Adar contains 29 days; its Rosh Chodesh is two days; the 1st day being the 30th of Shevat and the 2nd day of Rosh Chodesh being the 1st of Adar. Purim falls in this month. Nisan contains 30 days, and its Rosh Chodesh is 1 day.
In a leap year, the following is true:
Shevat is thirty days. Adar I is thirty days. Adar II is twenty nine days; its Rosh Chodesh is two days; 1st day is 30th of Adar I and 2nd day of its Rosh Chodesh is 1st of Adar II. Purim falls in this month. Nisan contains 30 days, and its Rosh Chodesh is one day.
The "Personality" of Adar
Adar is the happiest, most joyous month of the Hebrew calendar. In fact, its motto is "When Adar comes, joy is increased."
The abundance of joy in Adar is primarily due to the presence within the month of Purim. That holiday commemorates the salvation of the Jewish People from a genocidal plot by the wicked Haman, whereby he hoped to destroy the Jewish People, G-d Forbid, completely. Because of our fasting and repentance, we were able to have that heavenly decree, if not the earthly one, torn up (a decree of Achashverosh could, of course, never be rescinded).
Haman achieved the result, thank G-d, of having his plot overturned ("venahapoch hu," "it was overturned" – a theme of Purim) upon himself. Our last picture of him and his ten sons are of them dangling from the very gallows which he had prepared for Mordechai, a leader of the Jews.
Even though we are instructed in Pirkei Avot (Chapter 4, Mishnah 24) by Shmuel HaKatan, "When your enemy falls, do not be happy, and when he stumbles, let your heart not rejoice," an exception is made in the case of Haman. He represents the spirit of absolute (or nearly absolute) evil, as did his infamous ancestor, Amalek, founder of the nation which attacked the weakest of the Jews on their way out of Mitzrayim. Then the Jewish People were fresh from the Miracle of the Splitting of the sea, and their faith was still fragile, while fear of the Jews and of the awesome might of their G-d was universal among all the other nations of the world.
The Opposite of Chodesh Av
The Sages have said: "Just as joy is reduced from the start of Av, likewise, is joy increased at the start of Adar."
Rav Papa said: "Therefore, a Jew engaged in litigation with a non-Jew, should avoid him during Av, which is a time of ill omen for him; and should make himself available during Adar, which is a fortunate time for him" (Ta’anit 29). For, "Heaven revolves merit towards a day of merit," And joy towards a day of joy. And Adar is the most joyous of all months, so much so that no evil anti-Semitic eye can affect its blessing.
When Haman wanted to discover through astrology which month would be the most "vulnerable for Israel", he cast lots to choose the month and day. The lot fell upon the month of Adar. When Haman’s plot was foiled, Adar was transformed for the Jews from a month of grief and mourning to one of rejoicing and festivity; their happiness was all the greater. And the month of Adar became the very symbol of joy to them.
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