Adar Rishon, Adar Sheni

Megillah (1:4) | Yisrael Bankier | 7 years ago

Purim is celebrated in the month of Adar. We have learnt previously that in the Jewish calendar, some years include an additional month – Adar Sheni. In such years Purim is celebrated in the second Adar. The Gemara explains that it is celebrated in this manner so that the month in which we celebrate the redemption of Purim is next to the month that we celebrate the redemption from Egypt. The Mishnah teaches that if one celebrated Purim in Adar Rishon, and it was decided after that, that in that year there would be Adar Sheni as well, they would not have fulfilled their obligation, and be required to read the megillah again in the next month. The Mishnah continues that the difference between the 14^th^ and 15^th^ of Adar Rishon and Adar Sheni is the reading megillah and matanot la'evyonim (gifts to the poor). The Bartenura explains that Mishnah is teaching that on these days during both months, one is prohibited from fasting or reciting eulogies.

The Chatam Sofer (O.C. 208) poses a few difficulties on our Mishnah. Despite the above reason for celebrating Purim in Adar Sheni, it nonetheless appears inappropriate to delay thanking Hashem for the miracle performed. In general it is encouraged to act eagerly and perform a mitzvah as soon as possible (zerizim makdimin le'mitzvot), even at the expense of performing it in a more enhance manner1. Furthermore, if Purim is being delayed to the second Adar, why are fasts and eulogies prohibited on the fourteenth and fifteenth of Adar Rishon. If Purim is not being observed, it should be considered a regular day!

The Chatam Sofer answers by citing the Gemara (14a) that questions the basis for the mitzvah of megillah. Rabbi Chiya bar Avin explains in the name of R' Yehoshua ben Korcha that it is based on the following kal va'chomar. If when we were freed from slavery (from Egypt), we sang shira by the reed sea, then certainly, after our lives were saved when should sing shira. The Chatam Sofer understands that this kal vachomer is biblical in nature and obligates us to do something in memory of the miracle. Exactly what form it takes, is determined by the Rabbanan.

The next principle the Chatam Sofer presents is that zerizim makdimin le'mitzvot only applies from the time that one is obligated to perform that mitzvah. This is not the case regarding a mitzvah that one is not yet obligated in performing. Consequently, regarding a rabbinically implemented mitzvah, they Chachamim can select the optimal time based on other considerations. For example, in our case celebrating Purim in the Adar that is closer to Pesach.

Combining the two concepts, since the obligation of Purim is biblical and its expression rabbinic, this explains why there are traces of Purim in Adar Rishon also. Once the fourteenth of Adar Rishon arrives, we are obligated to do something to remember the miracle. This is because the obligation is biblical, and we are compelled to act based on zerizim makdimin le'mitvot. This however is satisfied with prohibition against fasting and giving eulogies during the fourteenth and fifteenth. The rabbinic side however finds its best expression when Purim is celebrated in Adar Sheni explaining why it is celebrated in its fullest during that month.


1 The Chatam Sofer cites the Radbaz and Mishnah Le'Melech in support of this assertion.


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