Significance of 2 Months of Adar

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Note: This Q&A is adapted from an essay of R' Chananya Berman of Queens [NY] Kollel Boker


Q: I know that this year there are two months of Adar. Which is the real one?

A: The simple answer is, the second one: This is when we celebrate Purim. For this reason, if one was born in a leap year, his or her bar or bat mitzvah would take place in the Adar in which he or she was born. Of course if there is only one Adar in his or her bar/bat mitzvah year, the event would be celebrated in that month. (If you think about it, the possibility therefore exists for a boy born in Adar II to reach the age of Mitzvah obligation 13 years later before a boy born a few weeks earlier.) It is interesting that Rabbi Moshe Shternbuch (London-born, now an eminent senior rabbi in Jerusalem) writes that if one is born in Adar of a non-leap year he should observe his bar mitzvah as a stringency in Adar I and then again in Adar II. (He does not address the question of an additional party…)

Yahrtzeit: If the deceased passed away in Adar of a leap year the yahrtzeit would be observed in that month in future years. However if s/he died in Adar in a non-leap year, the Rema maintains that the yahrtzeit should be observed in the first Adar, out of respect. The Shulkhan Arukh upholds the standard preference for Adar II. The Rema also adduces an opinion that one should observe both days as a yahrtzeit. Indeed, there are many who do so, as a gesture of filial respect.

“Increasing joy” and Purim Katan: There is a discussion among the authorities whether there is a precept of increased simcha in Adar I, or is it only Adar II (in which Purim is celebrated). Rav Yaakov Emden holds that there is no specific idea of simcha, the Hatam Sofer in a responsum agreed with this idea. However, in an unrelated teshuva he signs off by saying "The first of Adar I, the month that we increase simcha" (H.M. 20).  The Mishna Berurah (686:8) is not explicit but has been understood to endorse increased joy. Hey, why not? The Rema mentions the custom of having a festive meal on Purim Katan as well.

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Questions and Answers

Ask the Rabbi: Easy as א-ב-ג?
Dear Rabbi Simon,
I hope you fasted well yesterday.
Thank you for the insights into the Kinnot, making them easier to understand.
In the afternoon, I was listening to a shiur on Eichah on Torahanytime.  As an aside, the speaker mentioned that the 1st perek of Eichah is the source for the order of the alef bet as we know it.  Other chapters also follow the alef bet chronology but with ayin en peh interchanged.
He quoted Rabbi Shimon Schwab as his source.
Although he did not elaborate on this, surely Sefer Tehillim predates Megillat Eichah by centuries.  Several psalms are written in the alef bet order (e.g.
psalm 119).
Can you please clarify?
Thank you & best wishes.
PhilippeHi Philippe
TY for your sophisticated Q.
I have also heard that the question of the sequence of samekh and 'ayin is subject to dispute. It seems that there are indications that in Paleo-Hebrew the order is reversed from what we know. It is alleged that chapters 2, 3 and 4 of Eichah (chapter 5 is not alphabetical) reflect the original order. Of course, as you say, ch 1 conforms to the order with which we are family.
You are right that Tehillim predates Eichah, however a critic can claim that the order was redacted to bring it in line with the accepted/preferred sequence. This is particularly true for ch. 119, where each of the 8 vv per letter are their own group, and each set of 8 vv. can easily be repositioned. The question is in Ps. 34 or 145, if the internal logic of the passage sheds light on the correct sequence. In Ps. 34, some claim that the v. starting with the letter peh makes more sense to follow the verse starting with samekh (due to the common appearance of the word ra'). I am not convinced that this argument is compelling.
I will stick with the mesorah, that 'ayin belongs before peh. Best to look before speaking.
Rabbi Rashi Simon
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