Faigie Heiman
Sixty plus years in Jerusalem

Coat of Arms

Mishenichnas Adar marbim b’simcha – when Adar enters, joy increasesTa’anit 29a-b).

Adar, the name of your month is related to the word adir, a Hebrew word that denotes strength, power, and joy that is worthy of celebration. You are aligned with the tribe of Joseph and his two sons, Menashe and Ephraim, who were blessed by their Grandfather Jacob, and are independent branches of the 12th tribe, corresponding to the 12th month of the year.

It’s 12 months now since I moved From Jerusalem to Beit Shemesh and I’ve been thinking about last year, how I left my heart in Jerusalem, the reason I return often. And last week, when I was in Jerusalem again, I basked in the bright, sunny winter weather, complemented by a cloudless blue sky, and cool, fresh mountain air, “avir tzalul kayayin,” — air as clear as wine.

But we need rain, and so far, it’s been a mild winter.  January, the Hebrew month of Tevet that is about to exit, is generally a month of cold, wet, dark days that mirrors sadness for me personally. Tevet is the month that my husband, my “ktonet pasim” was laid to rest in the city we loved, in Jerusalem.

I recall my father-in-law who spoke at our engagement party 64 years ago in my parent’s home in Williamsburg. It was the fourth night of Chanuka, the 28th of Kislev. 100 family members, friends, and neighbors gathered. It was a happy exciting evening, the start of something new, where we debuted as a couple.

My father-in-law focused on the Patriarch Jacob, and the beautiful striped coat, the ktonet pasim that Jacob had sewn for his beloved son Joseph. My father-in-law referred to his own youngest son, (my husband to be), as his striped coat. He admitted that although he had other children, he considered his youngest son, his ktonet passim, his most precious child.

I walk the streets of Jerusalem where I lived for 62 years and I think of Spring; I think of you, Adar, when joy will increase; when this war will be over; when something new will ready to debut.

I think of Joseph, symbolic of the month of Adar. I think of all the incredibly inspiring “striped coats” in this country; all the husbands, fathers, sons, and brothers who are no longer among the living. Brave young soldiers killed in the war that started on Simchat Torah, October 7th. Young men who fought like lions to protect their people from annihilation. I think of their widowed wives, mothers, and orphaned children, all the men and women deserving of that exceptional title: ktonet pasim; an expression of love worthy of crowns to match their striped coats, for they are Israel’s cherished coat of arms.

But joy, like Purim, is an ingrained part of our history. A descendant of Joseph’s brother Benjamin, became known as the revered Queen Esther who saved her people from annihilation. Esther is the central character in the two thousand-year-old Purim story, the holiday celebration that falls in your month, Adar. Like the Queen herself, your entrance increases joy.

For weeks now, Purim has been on my mind. Purim is when Kabbalists have assured us that this terrible war will be over.

This year is a leap year. We will celebrate two Adars, an increase of joy totaling two whole months. One Adar honoring the tribe of Menashe, and the second Adar honoring the tribe of Ephraim.

The physical symbol of your month Adar, is Pisces, fish, and its origins date back to the blessing of Jacob to his two grandsons, Menashe and Ephraim.

Hamalach hagoel oti mikol ra… “May the angel who redeems me from all evil, bless the lads, and may my name be declared upon them, and the names of my forefathers, Abraham and Isaac, and may they proliferate abundantly like fish within the land.”

You have 60 powerful days to use your strength Adar, to do a v’nhapichu, a turnover. You have 60 days to destroy evil in this world, 60 days to bring all the soldiers and hostages’ home, 60 days to heal the wounded, and a whole 60 days to fulfill Jacob’s blessing to his grandchildren, enabling us to ready for joy to erupt with a new song to march to:

K’she Adar yeitzei matchila hageula when Adar exits redemption commences.

About the Author
Faigie Heiman is a frequent contributor of essays and short stories to Jewish newspapers and magazines, and author of a popular memoir, Girl For Sale. Born in Brooklyn, she made Aliya in 1960 with her husband and together raised a three-generation family in Jerusalem spanning six historical decades.
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