A New Moon and a Bonus Adar

In Holocaust, Home, Interfaith by Judy LaPietraLeave a Comment

By Mary Eshet

The Jewish month of Adar begins the evening of February 8 and there is much to say about it. For starters, 7 times in every 19 years, there are TWO Adars. Yes, if you’ve sometimes longed for a second chance, a do-over, Adar is the month for you! This year is one of those years when we get a bonus Adar.

You may think the one thing you know about Adar is that the holiday of Purim is in that month – but wait! It is actually not in the first Adar, only the second one. So, we will have a second chance to wax eloquently about Purim.

Adar seems to be the best month to have two of because it is a month of joy. Paradoxically, it is also known as a month of darkness, since the Jewish people were almost annihilated during the month.

Haman, the wicked prime minister of Persia, had a plan to cleanse the kingdom of the Jewish people.  He was excited about the day he chose because it was the day Moses died, the 7th of Adar. What he didn’t realize was that same day was also the day Moses was born!  And fittingly, the day he envisioned as the end for Jews turned out to be a rebirth instead, as Queen Esther saved the day and convinced the king to turn away from Haman’s scheme.

Adar and Purim bring many apparent contradictions, just as our world today contains such beauty and kindness, yet at the same time much chaos, hatred and unspeakable horror.

According to the sages, we must simultaneously work to comprehend the darkness and the light, as both are “reality.” To ignore or insulate from the horrors is to be in denial. Just as incomplete is to deny the goodness, indeed the daily miracles of life. We are meant to meet the challenges presented by life’s hard side, and to find inspiration in the beauty and joy.

This is a relevant message for the “Seeing Auschwitz” exhibit that has just opened in Charlotte, hosted by the Greenspon Center [LINK].  In the photographic exhibit, one can see the echoes of the past lives of the Auschwitz victims juxta supposed with the images that show the horrific destruction of people’s lives. The atrocity is unspeakably tragic because of the goodness that was lost.

The photographs also reveal the human ability to stay blind to evil, to deny atrocities even in the face of evidence. There are many tragedies we would just rather not think about, or that we somehow convince ourselves aren’t real.  Being aware of the hate and injustice in our midst is the beginning of steps to repair the world.

“Seeing Auschwitz” is an important exhibit to further our understanding of the darkness, and to recommit to light and life. The purpose of remembering this atrocity is not to create despondency, but to ignite one’s soul with the determination and energy to combat hate and fervently bring goodness into our world. In the words of the Chabad Rebbe Menachem Mendel Schneerson, “We must translate pain into action, and tears into growth.”

Although there were dark times in Adar, the Talmud tells us that “when the month of Adar arrives, we increase in joy” to welcome a season of miracles. We hope that you experience joy during both months of Adar!

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