Rosh Chodesh Adar 5783

Rosh Chodesh Adar 5783: 30 Shevat – 1 Adar

Reflection on the new month: Rosh Chodesh Adar 5783

This Adar will bring the globe, including, Jewish communities around the world full circle, three times over; inasmuch, that it will have been about three years since the proliferation of the coronavirus. May H’Shem have mercy on us; may He bless our lives, family, friends, and communities. May He preserve us during the days that will follow.

For the pandemic, nor the ramifications manifest in technological innovations, as well as geopolitical concerns are still in motion. How will we respond to the inherent issues that will accompany vaccine passports, Digital I.D., and eventually a social credit scoring system for individuals, as well as businesses, corporations and universities. (ESG is already in place for these latter institutions).

For myself, I have found much opportunity for reflection, writing, and kavanah (intention) throughout these past three years. I would also recomend to others, to occupy oneself with heshbon hanefesh (literally, an accounting of the soul): To examine one’s conscience in this manner, has the potential to lead to joy down the road, after rooting out unhealthy maladaptive behaviors, negative character traits, and making an effort to do better.

Personally, I count the hours of each and every day, until evening, when I hope to have fulfilled the day’s tasks, that are expected of me from Above. Yet, there is a disconnect between my quiet, reflective way of life, somewhat isolated, and removed from the changes occurring around the globe. Even so, to remain unaware of these changes will only provide a false assumption that these changes will not impact me personally.

May we all be productive in divinely inspired ways, and ask ourselves whether the future that the world is heading toward is one that we would view as ultimately of benefit to humankind. For, utopias have been promised by many movements of past history; in these cases, the promises were never realized. Why would anyone think differently in this case, where currently it may be that we are headed toward a dystopia. Regardless, trust in G-d, His will, and purpose, that His plan will be fulfilled, irrespective of any pursuit that is counter to His divine blueprint for humanity.

The Hebrew month of Adar is traditionally associated with joy (Taanis 29a).

May our joys in life increase, despite the challenges ahead. Amein.

Purim Katan 5782

“Hope deferred maketh the heart sick; but desire fulfilled is a tree of life.” – Proverbs 13:12, JPS 1917 Tanach

Expectations in life are often deferred until a later time than one may have hoped. This may be true for prayer, as well as whatever personal goals in life that one may have in mind. It is also true for the holiday of Purim, when there is a “leap year” in the Hebrew calendar. Because Passover is always to be celebrated in the Spring, an extra month is added to the Hebrew calendar seven times within a nineteen year period. Otherwise, Pesach (Passover) would end up being in the winter. Another explanation given is that because the Hebrew calendar is a lunar calendar, a month is added according to the specific calculations, so that it will correspond to the solar calendar. During a leap year, the extra month of Adar Sheini (Adar Two) is added, before the month of Nissan.

During a leap year, the question may be asked, “So when do we celebrate Purim – the first month of Adar or the second month of Adar?” The answer given is that we celebrate Purim during the second month of Adar, about a month before Pesach as usual. So, at the beginning of the first month of Adar, that is on Rosh Chodesh Adar 1, the expectation of Purim which is usually celebrated on the fourteenth of the month may be in our thoughts. Yet, during a leap year, the holiday is not celebrated until six weeks later.

Therefore, two weeks after Rosh Chodesh Adar 1, when Purim would normally be celebrated, instead we recognize the day as Purim Katan (Small Purim). On this day (14 Adar 1), it is considered praiseworthy, although not obligatory, to increase one’s sense of joy with a festive meal, and, perhaps, a little bit of wine. At least, this small amount of joy that we bring into our lives, may offset the unfulfilled expectation of the greater joy felt on the actual holiday of Purim. Additionally, Purim Katan would be a good time to think about the miracles in our lives and begin preparing for Purim – thirty days ahead of time – by reading about the significance of Purim, along with its observances.

Incidentally, the day before the holiday of Purim is called Esther Taanim, the fast of Esther. Although we do not fast on the day before Purim Katan, traditionally, some exceptionally devout people will at least skip snacks between meals. Ultimately, we should reflect upon the essential truth that true and lasting joy is not dependent upon festive meals, nor the consumption of alcohol. Tru joy results from serving G-d, in whatever capacity we are able. The more devotion, the greater joy, in the sense of a feeling of contentedness that accompanies our overall fulfillment of purpose, for the sake of one’s soul.

“He that is of a merry heart hath a continual feast.” – Proverbs 15: 15, JPS 1917 Tanach

Tu b’Shevat 5782

Tu b’Shevat: a mini Guide

“It is a good custom for the faithful to eat many fruits on this day and to celebrate them with words of praise.” – from Pri Etz Hadar ch. 1, sefaria.org

Baruch atah H’Shem Elokeinu melech haOlam borei pri haEtz

(Blessed are you, L-rd our G-d, who creates the fruit of the tree).

Baruch atah H’Shem Elokeinu melech haOlam shehechiyanu, v’kiemanu, v’higianu lazman hazeh

(Blessed are you, L-rd our G-d, who has granted us life, sustained us, and brought us to this season).

The concept of enacting a tikkun (rectification) through the conscious eating of a variety of fruits on this day is exemplified within the teachings found in the Pri Etz Hadar – Tree of the Goodly Fruit – that serves as a type of manual for Tu b’Shevat. To eat with intention (kavannah), means to acknowledge the spiritual significance of the day, as well as the symbolism from different types of fruits. Especially important are the seven species from Israel mentioned in Torah:

“A land of wheat and barley, and [grape] vines and fig-trees and pomegranates; a land of olive-trees and honey. – Deuteronomy 8:8, JPS 1917 Tanach

Also included as traditional favorites for Tu b’Shevat are the following:

carob chips, dried apples, dried pears, raisins, grapes, and wine, if having a Tu b’Shevat fruit seder.

shabbos reflection: Tu b’Av

eruv Tu b’AV (fifteenth of the Hebrew month of Av)

This evening begins the lesser known Jewish holiday of Tu b’Av. Most of us are familiar with the 9th of Av, that occurred last week, commemorating the destruction of both the first and second Temples. Contrary to the mournful tone of Tish b”Av, the holiday of Tu b’Av (15th of Av) is a joyous holiday, a welcome change to the mournful Three Weeks that led up to Tish b’Av.

What does the holiday of Tu b’Av commemorate? According to some sources, all of the firewood necessary for the offerings of the new year was gathered by this day. Additionally, this day is when the men courted the women, in an outside gathering. Many Jews today pray for shidduchim (a marriage arrangement) on this particular day, because the day is considered auspicious to receive a favorable reply from H’Shem.

Rosh Chodesh Adar 5781

B”H

Rosh Chodesh Adar 5781

On Shabbos Mevarchim for Rosh Chodesh Adar 5781, this past Shabbat, I reflected on the blessing for the new month, traditionally recited on the Sabbath before Rosh Chodesh:

I noticed how this Adar will bring the globe, as well as, Jewish communities around the world full circle; inasmuch, that it will have been about a year since the proliferation of the coronavirus. May H’Shem have mercy on us; may He bless our lives, family, friends, and communities. May He preserve us during the days that will follow. Amein.

For myself, I have been sheltering in place, virtually twenty four – seven. I have much opportunity for reflection, writing, and kavanah (intention). Yet, the days are somewhat bittersweet, since my thoughts turn pensive, akin to the required seriousness necessary for the sake of heshbon hanefesh (literally, an accounting of the soul). To examine one’s conscience in this manner, will only lead to joy down the road, after rooting out unhealthy maladaptive behaviors, negative character traits, and making an effort to do better. Additionally, I count the hours of each and every day, until evening, when I hope to have fulfilled the day’s tasks, that are expected of me from Above. May we all be productive in divinely inspired ways. Amein,

Focusing on what is essential, as the restrictions let up, I wonder how often will newly found essentials continue to be important in my life, and the lives of others down the road. To revert back to former ways would only prove to be detrimental, if what has been learned at this slowed down pace of life, simply gives sway to momentum, approaching the previous standards of the often frenetic pace of society. Yet, positive societal change should be the result of individuals focusing on retaining the lessons learned during these challenging times. May we all continue to grow in our understanding of what is important in life. Amein.

The Hebrew month of Adar is traditionally associated with joy (Taanis 29a).

May our joys in life increase, despite the challenges ahead. Amein.

Tu b’Shevat

B”H

Tu b’Shevat Guide

“It is a good custom for the faithful to eat many fruits on this day and to celebrate them with words of praise.” – from Pri Etz Hadar ch. 1, sefaria.org

Baruch atah H’Shem Elokeinu melech haOlam borei pri haEtz. Blessed are you, L-rd our G-d, who creates the fruit of the tree.

Baruch atah H’Shem Elokeinu melech haOlam shehechiyanu, v’kiemanu, v’higianu lazman hazeh. Blessed are you, L-rd our G-d, who has granted us life, sustained us, and brought us to this season.

The concept of enacting a tikkun (rectification) through the conscious eating of a variety of fruits on this day is exemplified within the teachings found in the Pri Etz Hadar – Tree of the Goodly Fruit – that serves as a type of manual for Tu b’Shevat. To eat with intention (kavannah), means to acknowledge the spiritual significance of the day, as well as the symbolism from different types of fruits. Especially important are the seven species from Israel mentioned in Torah:

“A land of wheat and barley, and [grape] vines and fig-trees and pomegranates; a land of olive-trees and honey. – Deuteronomy 8:8, JPS 1917 Tanach