Musings About the Month of Adar and Purim

We are now in the month of Adar. The joyous festival of Purim occurs on the 14th of Adar (3/1/18). The root letters alef-dalet-reish  have the connotation of “glory” or “splendor” (as in the phrase hidor ha-mitzvah, “glorifying the mitzvah“). On Purim, the Jews were triumphant over the wicked  Haman. In fact, the name of Hashem does not appear in the Megillat Esther (The Scroll of Esther). It was through the faith and devotion of the Jews of Persia (inspired by Mordechai and Esther), the the miracle of Purim occurred. How appropriate is it then,  to celebrate such a triumph during  a month whose name has a connotation of glory and splendor!

Of further interest is that through most of the Megillah, the word used for Jews is “Yehudim” (spelled with one yud before the last letter mem). However, in Chapter 4 (verse 7) and Chapter 9 (verse15), something strange happens in the writing (but not the pronunciation) of the Megillah; two yuds appear in the word Yehudim (translation is from Tanakh: The Holy Scriptures by JPS):

Chapter 4

Chapter 9

This change in the writing of Yehudim has been explained to refer to the fact that ALL Jews were subjected to Haman’s decree of destruction. Every person battles two inclinations in their soul: The yetzer harah and yetzer hatov (the evil inclination and the good inclination). regardless of where a Jew fell on the spectrum of observance or assimilation, Haman wanted them ALL destroyed. In Shushan, ALL of the Jews joined in the battle and their miraculous success again refers back to their faith in Hashem even in exile. Finally, the gematria (numerical analysis of Hebrew letters as numbers where alef = 1, bet = 2, …) of Yehudim is 87, which is one more than the gematria of word Elohim (which has a gematria of 86). Thus, when the Yehudim (two yuds), worked as one, Hashem was with them. So today, may ALL Jews work together in our Holy task of tikun olam and the performance of mitzvot.

About the Author
Jonathan Wolf is a retired high school physics teacher. He retired to NJ with his wife. He is an adjunct professor of physics at Fairleigh Dickinson University. He has published professional papers and has been the author of AP Physics review books as well as general HS and college physics review books. He is a past President and ritual chairman at a conservative synagogue on Long Island, NY before he retired to NJ.
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