When my youngest daughter was born, I was very excited to share the good news with everyone. The next day, I was at the shiur of Rav Meir Stern shlit”a and told him, “I get a mazel tov…I had a baby girl!” The rosh yeshiva looked at me and said with a smile, “That’s a real miracle—you gave birth to a baby!” I realized my error—my wife gave birth to a baby girl. The rosh yeshiva told me to remember that it’s the wife who went through nine months of pregnancy and gave birth—she gets the credit!
The concept of recognizing who gets the credit is a core concept for the month of Adar. This year, there are two months of Adar—Adar Rishon and Adar Sheini. The Gemara tells us that when Adar enters, our simcha (joy) increases. This year we have a double portion of added simcha.
What generates this increase in simcha in the month(s) of Adar? Rashi explains that it is because Adar leads into the month of Nisan, which is the month of redemption for the Jewish nation—symbolized by Pesach, the Yom Tov which celebrates our redemption from Mitzrayim. Nisan itself is the month which is destined for our ultimate redemption.
The month of Adar is also when we celebrate Purim, which commemorates the miracle when Hashem saved the Jewish nation from the annihilation that was attempted by Haman, a descendant of Amalek. In the schedule of the months of the year, Adar is actually the last month, since the new counting of the months of the year starts with Nisan.
Rav Tzadok HaKohein highlights the Gemara which tells us that just as the Jewish nation was redeemed in the month of Nisan, so too our ultimate redemption will occur in the month of Nisan. The powers of evil in the world (the descendants of Amalek) currently sense their imminent destruction, and therefore try with all their might to fight back, like a wild animal under attack. Some use the analogy of a candle: just before its flame goes out, a candle flickers brightly.
What is the key to overpowering the forces of evil and meriting the ultimate redemption?
Rav Avraham Schorr says that the key is revealed to us in the following principle taught in the Mishnah: Whoever gives credit to the person who told them something of value brings redemption to the world. The source of this concept is learned from the actions of Queen Esther. Mordechai informed Esther of the plot by Bigsan and Seresh to assassinate King Achashverosh. When Esther informed Achashverosh of this evil plot, she said, “I heard this information from Mordechai.” This led to Mordechai being saved from Haman’s attempt to have him executed, and ultimately to the salvation of the entire Jewish nation.
This narrative is included in the Purim Megillah, which relates how Mordechai and Esther managed to save the Jewish people from the murderous decree of King Achashverosh, which was instigated by Haman. The Gemara says that Haman is even alluded to in the Torah, from the pasuk in Bereishis where Hashem asks Adam, “Hamin ha’eitz … achalta?, Did you eat from the tree?” The word “Hamin” includes the same letters as Haman—hei, mem, nun. The Sfas Emes explains that Adam and Chava denied that they took fruit from the tree. Similarly, Haman—the leader of Amalek—denied the existence of Hashem, the source of everything in our world. The Chiddushei HaRim says that the root of the word Amalek is “melikah,” which means to sever the head at the neck. Amalek denies that the source of our existence (symbolized by the head, which controls the body) is Hashem.
The same letters, hei, mem, nun, spell “HaMann”—the mann (food) which sustained the Jewish people in the desert when they were redeemed from Egypt. The mann is the reminder for mankind to recognize that the source of all our sustenance comes from HaKadosh Baruch Hu. Haman—Amalek—denied that Hashem is the source of everything’s existence.
By focusing on recognizing Hashem as the source of our existence, may this month of Adar herald the redemption represented by Purim. And may we then celebrate the redemption of Pesach and ultimately the redemption of Klal Yisrael.
Rabbi Baruch Bodenheim is the associate rosh yeshiva of Passaic Torah Institute (PTI)/Yeshiva Ner Boruch. Rabbi Bodenheim can be reached at [email protected]. For more info about PTI and its Torah classes, visit www.pti.shulcloud.com