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Wednesday, February 2, 2022

Halachic Times (Zmanim)
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Rosh Chodesh Adar I
Jewish History

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 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

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 I (this year being a leap year there are two months called "Adar" -- Adar I and Adar II).

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

This year is a shanah meuberet (lit., "a pregnant year") or a leap year on the Jewish calendar. The Jewish leap year, which occurs 7 times in a 19-year cycle, has 13 months instead of the regular year's 12. This is so that the lunar-based Jewish year should remain aligned with the solar seasons (12 lunar months make up a total of 354 days -- slightly more than 11 days short of the 365.25 day solar cycle). The added month is called "Adar I" and is inserted before the month of Adar (termed "Adar II" in leap years).

The festival of Purim celebrated on Adar 14, is in Adar II on leap years, while the 14th of the Adar I is marked only as "Purim Minor." Similarly, birthdays and most other anniversaries are marked on the 2nd Adar.

Links:
The 19-Year Marriage
Leap Year Explained

Daily Thought

The Zohar tells us that we must learn from Joseph.

When he fell into his brothers’ hands, they almost murdered him and they sold him into slavery.

But when his brothers fell into his hands, he brought them to repent, and then arranged for them the best living conditions in Egypt.

Joseph was a tzadik. He had mastered the beast within his heart.

But the Zohar speaks to us, and tells us, “Even when your heart burns with fury at those you envy or despise, or have wronged you, even at the time that your mind is assaulted with thoughts of spite and revenge—

—even then, you have the power to do the polar opposite of what the beast within you demands you do, to refuse to entertain those nasty thoughts or to express any anger, and instead to deal with these people with respect and even greater kindness to the opposite extreme.

In a way, that may be greater than a tzadik such as Joseph. For you have defeated the beast at the zenith of its power.

Tanya, end of chapter 12. See also chapter 27.