Get the best of Chabad.org content every week!
Find answers to fascinating Jewish questions, enjoy holiday tips and guides, read real-life stories and more!
ב"ה
To view Shabbat Times click here to set your location

Shabbat, February 13, 2021

Halachic Times (Zmanim)
To view Halachic Times click here to set your location
Rosh Chodesh Adar
Shekalim
Jewish History

The 9th plague to strike the Egyptians for their refusal to release the Children of Israel from slavery -- a thick darkness that blanketed the land so that "no man saw his fellow, and no man could move from his place" (Exodus 10:23) -- commenced on the 1st of Adar, six weeks before the Exodus.

Link: More on The Plague of Darkness

The highly regarded Biblical commentator, Rabbi Abraham ben Meir Ibn Ezra (1089?-1164CE), passed away on Adar 1, 4924.

Link: Rabbi Abraham Ibn Ezra

Adar 1 is also the yahrtzeit (anniversary of the passing) of the great Halachist Rabbi Shabtai Hakohen Katz (1621-1663?), author of the Siftei Cohen commentary on Rabbi Yosef Caro's Code of Jewish Law. He is known as "Shach" -- an acronym of the name of his work, which serves to this day as a primary source of Halachah (Jewish law).

Link: The Shach

On this date, in the year following the Holy Temple’s destruction, G‑d tells Ezekiel to take up a lamentation for Pharaoh, king of Egypt, foretelling his downfall in the hands of the Babylonians.

Read the prophecy here: Ezekiel ch. 32

The first of Adar (I) is celebrated by the descendents of Rabbi Yomtov Lipman Heller (1579-1654) as a day of thanksgiving, for his liberation and restoration after his imprisonment in Vienna in 1629.

Rabbi Yomtov Lipman was one of the important rabbinical figures of the early 17th century. Known as the "Tosfos Yomtov" after his commentary on the Mishnah by that name, he also authored important commentaries on the Rosh and other rabbinical works. A disciple of the famed Maharal of Prague, Rabbi Yomtov Lipman was appointed, at the tender age of 18, to serve as a dayan (rabbinical judge) in in that city. He subsequently filled a number of prestigious rabbinical positions, including rabbi of Nikolsburg and of Vienna. In 1627 he was recalled to Prague to serve as the city's chief rabbi.

That position earned him powerful enemies when he refused to follow the dictates of Prague's rich and influential citizens and strove to relieve the burden imposed on the poor by the suffocating "crown taxes" imposed on the Jews. His enemies informed on him to the government, falsely accusing him of treason. In 1629, Rabbi Yomtov Lipman was arrested, tried and sentenced to death. The Jewish communities of Bohemia succeeded in having the sentence commuted and reduced to a heavy fine, and raised the funds for the payment of the first installment that secured his release. However, his enemies obtained an imperial decision that he could not officiate as rabbi in any town of the empire, leaving him homeless and destitute. It took many years for him to pay off the balance of the fine and be restored to his former position. It was only in the winter of 1644, when he settled in Krakow after being appointed chief rabbi of the city, that he felt that that he could celebrate his release and restoration.

Rosh Chodesh Adar (I)--the day that Rabbi Yomtov Lipman assumed the rabbinate of Krakow--was celebrated by him and his family as a day of thanksgiving to G-d. Rabbi Yomtov Lipman asked that future generations continue to mark the date, and the custom is upheld by his descendants to this day.

Links:
The Tosfot Yomtov

Laws and Customs

Today is the second of the two Rosh Chodesh ("Head of the Month") days for the month of Adar (when a month has 30 days, both the last day of the month and the first day of the following month serve as the following month's Rosh Chodesh).

Special portions are added to the daily prayers: Hallel (Psalms 113-118) is recited -- in its "partial" form -- following the Shacharit morning prayer, and the Yaaleh V'yavo prayer is added to the Amidah and to Grace After Meals; the additional Musaf prayer is said (when Rosh Chodesh is Shabbat, special additions are made to the Shabbat Musaf). Tachnun (confession of sins) and similar prayers are omitted.

Many have the custom to mark Rosh Chodesh with a festive meal and reduced work activity. The latter custom is prevalent amongst women, who have a special affinity with Rosh Chodesh -- the month being the feminine aspect of the Jewish Calendar.

Links: The 29th Day; The Lunar Files

"When Adar enters," the Talmud declares, "we increase in joy." For this is "the month that was transformed for them from sorrow to joy, from mourning to festivity" (Esther 9:22) by the great miracle and victory of Purim. Our sages advise that the month of Adar is an auspicious time for the Jewish people, so that if a Jew is faced with a challenging event (i.e., a court case, a medical procedure, etc.) he should endeavor to schedule it during Adar.

Links: 4 Reasons to be Happy; more on joy

When the Holy Temple stood in Jerusalem, each Jew contributed an annual half-shekel to the Temple. The 1st of Adar marked the beginning of the collection of the shekalim. In commemoration, the Torah reading of the Shabbat that falls on or before Adar 1 is supplemented with the verses (Exodus 30:11-16) that relate G-d's commandment to Moses regarding the first giving of the half-shekel.

"Parshat Shekalim" is the first of four special readings added during or immediately before the month of Adar (the other three being "Zachor", "Parah" and "Hachodesh")

Links: The Shekalim Reading with commentary; Partner; Tzedakah: Charity

This Shabbat is unique in that three Torah scrolls are taken from the ark and read from in the public Torah reading: one scroll for the weekly Parshah, a second scroll for the Rosh Chodesh reading, and a third scroll for the Shekalim reading. (The only other occasions on which three scrolls are taken out are Simchat Torah, and when Rosh Chodesh Tevet (which is also Chanukah) or Rosh Chodesh Nissan (in which case the special reading of "Hachodesh" is read) fall on Shabbat).

Daily Thought

When the Children of Israel declared “We will do and we will understand!” the ministering angels descended and placed two crowns upon their heads—one for “we will do” and the other for “we will understand.”

That’s puzzling.

They were wise to accept the Torah even before they understood. That gives them one crown. And the other?

The other is the crown to understanding. Because when you commit to carrying out all that you learn—because you know to Whom this Torah belongs—then your learning bears fruit and your understanding soars to a whole new level.