Beit Midrash

  • Shabbat and Holidays
  • The Month of Adar
To dedicate this lesson



Rabbi Berel Wein

The rabbis taught us that when the month of Adar arrives then we should look forward to an increase in our joy and happiness. This is undoubtedly because the great joyous holiday of Purim falls in the middle of the month of Adar. Yet there is a somber side to Adar because it teaches us that deliverances from Hamans are an ongoing part of the Jewish historical scenario. The mere necessity of requiring miracles such as Purim to occur teaches us a great deal about the world’s relationship with the Jewish people. And in our current world the rising tide of accepted anti-Semitism in the Western world only shows how things never change regarding the Jews. Boycotts against Israel - and make no mistake, Israel is the accepted code word for Jews generally, even the Neturei Karta - Israeli athletes barred from sports events, and sometimes like in Sweden being forced to play in an empty arena, disinvestment attempts, university environments that are openly anti-Jewish and anti-Israel, the kowtowing to Moslem groups in all Western countries, are all accepted parts of today’s scene. "Death to the Jews" can be heard shouted in all of the main capitals of civilized twenty-first century Europe. It is interesting but very disappointing that Jews generally have found this behavior against them to be tolerable. It is the unfortunate Jewish response of whistling while walking past the graveyard. Instead of protesting loudly, of opposing all of these hypocritical NGO’s and the radicals on the campus and streets Jews hope that somehow that this will somehow disappear by itself. Too bad that it will not.

But there are heartening exceptions to this sad picture. The American tennis star Andy Roddick withdrew from the Dubai tennis tournament in protest for the ban of Shahar Peer the Israeli tennis player. There are parliamentary conferences in Europe as to how to combat anti-Semitism. The Pope of Rome has condemned anti-Semitism publicly and forcibly, something his predecessors seventy years ago did not find it necessary to do. Slowly the Israeli government is awakening to the necessity of combating all of this hatred with its own means - better use of the media, the internet and continued attempts to improve and expand its public relations image. The miracle of Purim repeats itself in every generation. The Hagada of Pesach teaches us that in every generation there are those who wish to destroy us, physically and spiritually. Iran is no mirage. Yet we are taught by the rabbis that we are not to rely solely on miracles. Heaven always helps those who help themselves. And therefore even the miracle of Purim could not have occurred if it were not for the actions and interventions of Mordecai and Esther. Passivity in the face of enmity so openly expressed hardly qualifies for miracle making. Anti-Semitism is one of the tools of the Lord, so to speak, to remind the Jewish people of its special role and mission in the world. The Lord will never allow us to escape our mission and destiny. We will never be a nation that is just like everyone else. But we have to stand up for ourselves and be positive and proactive in fulfilling our destiny and be vociferous in announcing that to a hostile world.

There is another side to Adar and anti-Semitism that needs to be mentioned. The Talmud teaches us that being against the Jews is the shortcut to political success. But in the long run it brings only ruin to those who practice it as a way of life. All of the mighty countries and great empires who practiced it were swept away themselves while the Jewish people survived and rebuilt itself. In our times, this was and is the story of Germany and the Soviet Union. It is true that Germany destroyed six million Jews. But at the end of the day in terms of cost of territory, human life and untold suffering and defeat, World War II was an unmitigated disaster for Germany. It suffered for decades of partition and it has not been spared continued difficulties. What the eventual price it will yet pay for its anti-Jewish cruelties is yet to come and be reckoned. The anti-Jewish attitudes and policies of the Soviet Union eventually brought it to its unexpected demise. The Jewish people is not to be easily trifled with. Ask Haman. So Adar reminds us of ancient truths and current situations. The rabbis said that there is no joy as great as realizing the realities of a situation. Maybe that is why Adar is the month of joy. It is simply the month of reality and wise and strong behavior in light of that reality. It therefore becomes the month of miracles as well.
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