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Wednesday, February 26, 2020

Halachic Times (Zmanim)
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Rosh Chodesh Adar
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

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

Daily Thought

The sages said about chutzpah, “Damned is the one who has it, and damned is the one who does not.”

Chutzpah makes a man into an idol. But without it, how can he change the world?

Our conscious mind must know it is nothing, and the power G‑d has placed in our heart may then burst forth.

Maamarei Admor Hazaken Haketzarim, p. 370; Behar-Bechukotai 5731:2.