1. According to the Jewish calendar, tonight is distinguished by the coincidence of three separate occurrences. It is Motzaei Shabbos Parshas Mishpatim. Likewise, it is Shabbos Mevarchim Adar Rishon (the Shabbos on which the month of Adar Rishon is blessed). The name Adar Rishon also indicates the third factor — that this year is a leap year.

The Baal Shem Tov explained that there is no such thing as coincidence. Rather, every event which occurs is controlled by Hashgachah Protis. Thus, everything a Jew sees or hears contains a lesson useful in the service of G‑d.

Based on this teaching, the concurrence of these three elements undoubtedly presents a lesson1 for every individual that is applicable in his service of G‑d. Within this general lesson, certain aspects can be derived from each of the individual contributing factors: Motzaei Shabbos Parshas Mishpatim, Chodesh Adar, and the additional month of the leap year.

2. The following lesson can b e derived from Parshas Mishpatim.

The first laws mentioned by the Torah under the category of “These are the mishpatim (judgments)” are those concerning the sale of a Hebrew servant.

This concept serves as the source for a valuable inference: The sale of a Hebrew servant (in the passage under consideration, this refers to someone who stole an object and had not other way to compensate that object’s owner except by being sold as a servant) was a very infrequent occurrence. The fact that despite its infrequence, it is the first law mentioned in Parshas Mishpatim, implies that it contains an important and eternally relevant lesson2 emphasized by its prestigious position at the beginning of the Parshah.

That lesson concerns the ultimate concept of servitude, the servitude of the Jewish people to G‑d. From the time of the Exodus from Egypt, G‑d considered the Jewish people as His servants. The expression of that servitude lies in the Jew’s fulfillment of the obligations of Torah and mitzvos.

Concerning the Hebrew servant, the Torah commands, “Six years he shall work, and in the seventh year he shall be freed.” That commandment results from the principle that a Jew’s behavior in Torah and mitzvos is “imatatio dei,”3 i.e., is parallel to the mystic energies revealed by G‑d. In spiritual terms, the six years of work refer to the six millennia of the history of the world. The freedom of the seventh year describes the period of the Messianic redemption.

3. A parallel example of this pattern can be seen in the relationship between the six days of the work week and the Sabbath, the day of rest.

The Sabbath atmosphere is radically different from that of the week. During the week, the stress is on business and activity to such a degree that the statement “Six days shall you work” is considered by some commentaries as a mitzvah.

On the Sabbath, a Jew must feel that “all your work is completed.” The Shabbos ushers in a totally different atmosphere, one of spiritual pleasure. The Kabbalah elaborates on how the highest spiritual level (described as “the will of all wills”) is revealed on Shabbos.

The change from weekday to Sabbath does not affect the Jew’s position as G‑d’s servant. The Talmud explains the Jew “was created only to serve his Creator.”4 This is his only real identity, his true self. However, a Jew’s self-perception as G‑d’s servant can be divided into two separate states of awareness. The Talmud explains that “the servant of a King (referring to G‑d) is considered a king.” There are times when the Jew is more acutely aware of his existence as G‑d’s servant (the days of the week), and there are times when he becomes more conscious that through this service he is “considered a king” (Shabbos).

The above lesson of Parshas Mishpatim describing a Jew as G‑d’s servant, is uniquely related to Motzaei Shabbos. For on Motzaei Shabbos, the Shabbos atmosphere of rest has already passed and the practical work of fulfilling G‑d’s service begins.5

Therefore, to note this transition from the restful atmosphere of the Sabbath into a phase of active effort, it is customary in many communities (though not in Chabad) to sing the piyyut “Do not fear, Jacob my servant.” Since the atmosphere of the week is one of work, where the Jew must face and overcome the obstacles the world poses to his service to G‑d, the possibility of fear may arise. However, because the Jew is the servant of G‑d, he need not and must not fear the world. Quite the contrary, he must carry out his service even if it runs contradictory to commonly accepted social norms.

4. The above represents the lessons which can be learnt from Motzaei Shabbos Parshas Mishpatim every year. This year, when Shabbos Mevarchim Adar occurs on the same Shabbos, an additional lesson can be learnt.

The narrative of the Purim miracle conveys the fundamental message of the month of Adar. The Jewish people were then servants to Achashverosh, under the dominion of a non-Jewish power. However, Achashverosh’ authority did not interfere with the Jews’ status as servants of G‑d. Despite his decrees, the Jews were proudly steadfast in the observance of all matters connected with Torah and mitzvos.

At that time Achashverosh controlled the entire civilized world. His decrees established what was to be considered correct and proper behavior. Nevertheless, the Jews all followed Mordechai’s example, and “they did not bow and did not bend” to the pressure exerted upon them.

Contrary to the popular opinion, this behavior did not cause the ruin of the Jewish people. Rather, the entire natural order was inverted. Through their adherence to Torah despite the edicts of the ruling authority, the Jewish people rose to the powerful position described at the end of the Megillah. So great was their influence that “Mordechai’s fame spread throughout the nation” and “people of various nationalities converted to Judaism.”6

The importance of the events of those days is so great, that they are recalled and celebrated thousands of years later with a Simcha which knows no bounds or limits. Torah law requires that on Purim a person rejoice and reach a state of intoxication so great, that he does not recognize the difference between Haman and Mordechai.7

The month of Adar and the holiday of Purim emphasize that no other influences (even influences which the Jew must seemingly concede as unalterable aspects of the natural order), can interfere with the Jew’s position as servant as G‑d.

This concept is further expressed by another facet of the Purim holiday. Though Purim is singled out as a day of rejoicing, work is not prohibited. The Jew has the power to infuse the work-day atmosphere with a boundless and limitless expression of Simcha.

The intent of Shabbos Mevarchim is to bless the month, to extend the above-described qualities from the level of potential to actual, practical expression.

5. The lesson contributed by the leap year8 is as follows:

The purpose of the leap year is to add one month to the year, thus compensating for the days lost in previous years due to the difference between the lunar and solar calendars.

This concept has its parallel in the Jew’s service to G‑d. The Jewish people follow the lunar calendar. Their connection with the moon is described by the Talmud. The moon is the smaller luminary, and it is therefore appropriate that it should govern the calendar of the “smallest among the nations.”

Chassidic thought explains this quality of smallness with a deeper perspective. Smallness refers to the Jew’s humility and self-nullification in respect to G‑d. That attitude is paralleled by the moon’s position of having no light of its own and being a receiver of light from other sources. The moon goes through phases, waxing and waning. Similarly, there is the possibility of fluctuation, of growth and decline, in the Jew’s service to G‑d. (These two elements are correlated. Kabbalah relates how the waning of the moon is connected with the source for sin.)

However, if such a fluctuation should produce a shortcoming in the Jew’s service, it is only temporary. In fact, the purpose and reason for the shortcoming is that through it a Jew can approach a higher mode of service.9 As the Talmud explains, “The level of a Baal Teshuvah cannot be approached by even a complete Tzaddik.” In the Jewish calendar, this higher mode of service is reflected by the additional month of the leap year.10

The solar calendar has no changes, maintaining a steady pattern year after year. The lunar calendar goes through changes. Similarly, the natural order which follows the sun continues without variation; but the Jew, who follows the moon, has the potential to change. The ultimate result of that change (even if initially it appears to be a decline or loss), is growth and advance. That growth is alluded to in the additional month of the leap year.11

Thus, adding to the previous lesson, the leap year contributes the awareness that even if there should be shortcomings in the Jew’s fulfillment of his role of servant of G‑d, such shortcomings can not only be overcome, but in fact transformed into positive influences.

6. When the three above-mentioned elements (Motzaei Shabbos Parshas Mishpatim, Shabbos Mevarchim Adar, and the leap year) coincide, the Jew becomes aware of the three lessons communicated above. He departs the Sabbath atmosphere of rest and pleasure, and enters into the six days of work in which he must labor as G‑d’s servant – the lesson of Motzaei Shabbos Parshas Mishpatim. The lesson of Shabbos Mevarchim Adar teaches him that even though the powers of the natural order seem to present obstacles to his service of Torah and mitzvos, he must still persist in his service without regard to those difficulties (a path of behavior which will lead him to overcome those difficulties). And the lesson of the leap year teaches him that even if for some reason he has previously failed to realize his full potential, he still has the ability to compensate for those failures.

With such an attitude, he will successfully proceed in his service of Torah and mitzvos and reveal how the world, though superficially not so, is in reality a dwelling place for G‑d.

This was the original status of the world as elaborated upon in the Maamar of Yud Shevat, and (though because of sin that presence is temporarily not revealed), every Jew has the potential to intensify its revelation.12

Then we will merit, as described in the Maamar, the revelation of the heavenly treasure stores (the deepest secrets of Torah) which the King will divide among His servants (which as stated above, refer to every Jew).