And so we are “forced” into adding another month into the year every few years. (Actually, pure math would dictate that we just add 11 days every 12 lunar months before starting another “year.” That would certainly confuse everyone — 11 “blank days” that do not “belong” to a month! But Hakadosh Baruch Hu had pity on us, and decreed, as we are taught in Gemara Megilah 5a, that only full months can be added to a year, not mere days.)
Okay, so which month is it to be? Where do we add it?
We know that the answer is Adar! Why Adar? Rambam in Sefer Hamitzvos says that we derive from a posuk that we are to add the month as closely as possible to the yom tov which is the source of the “problem” to begin with (see last week’s column) — Pesach. Other sources explain that in the time of the Sanhedrin (Jewish Religious High Court), adding the month wasn’t set up as a regularly-scheduled calendar event as it is now. Rather, the Sanhedrin saw tell-tale signs (climatic and agricultural) that would be a clear indication that it would be necessary. These signs were obviously most seen and best evaluated in Shevat, preceding Adar. Another reason given is that Adar is referred to in Tanach as “the twelfth month,” and we try mightily to retain that nomenclature. As you can readily discern, if any other month were to be doubled, Adar would no longer be the twelfth month!
Our next question concerns the “extra” inserted month: which is it, Adar I or Adar II? The Yerushalmi in Maseches Megilah asks this question, and points out that for someone born in Adar in a plain year, the answer to this question will determine when his or her birthday falls (if the extra month is Adar I, the birthday is in Adar 2, and vice versa.) Now, you may not care much about when your birthday is any longer, but there are two major times when you DO care! And that is the bar mitzvah or bas mitzvah year. Just when do you become obligated in Mitzvos if you were born in Adar? And for animals, that can only qualify for specific korbonos at specific ages, we just had to know when its birthday was. The Yerushalmi ends its discussion inconclusively, although many understand it to be saying that the first Adar is the “extra” one.
What about “marbin b’simchah”? Very important, though barely any of you took me up on my offer of last week, and of those who did (the numbers remain a closely-guarded secret), most misunderstood what I was offering. Well, the Gemara in Ta’anis is the source for this “din,” where it says that just as there is a statement of Chazal “mishenichnas Av, mema’atin b’simchah,” from when the month of Av commences, we minimize all simchah, so, too, “mishenichnas Adar, marbin b’simchah,” the polar opposite. Rashi there, in explanation, says that we increase simchah in Adar because it is a time of miracles, like Purim and Pesach. Many understand Rashi to be saying that it is davka the proximity of both nisim which are a call to ode and joy; and that that certainly would give the marbin b’simchah award to Adar II. And we do see that the psak halachah is that Purim is celebrated in Adar II, another indication.
The Sfas Emes has an interesting point. He says that the Gemara we quoted has an inherent difficulty. Why ascribe Adar’s simchah to Av’s lack thereof? Let Adar stand on its own!? He answers that Av’s joylessness has, of course, to do with the churban Beis Hamikdash, the cessation of korbanos, etc. While in Adar, as it turns out, the collections for the machatzis hashekel, the monies that virtually everyone in Klal Yisroel gave in order to participate in the korbanos tzibbur, commence. And so Adar is indeed the very antitheses of Av, for it is a time of strengthening of korbanos and what they represent. Hence the great simchah, in contradistinction to Chodesh Av. This would place the burden of being happy squarely on Adar II, for that is when the collections for the korbanos would start to be made.
There is actually an interesting Yerushalmi which states (in Maseches Megilah) that the year of the Purim nes was a 13-month year! It seems that it was this way in the year of the choosing of the lots, with the future Adar date being given as the day chosen for the destruction of the Jews, r”l. But according to this, Purim would have taken place in Adar I, for this date is described as “the twelfth month,” which is Adar I. The Chasam Sofer in his teshuvos (OC siman 163) goes through a historical analysis, concluding that when Haman drew the lots, the year of waiting and anticipating was supposed to be of 13 months; when Mordechai prevailed, he canceled the second Adar, arguing that the Jews should maintain their connection to Moshe Rabbeinu and the month in which he was born and died — just plain Adar.
Halachically, things are rather unclear. Regarding a yahrtzeit, the Shulchan Aruch rules that the fasting of the yahrtzeit-observer is in Adar II; the Rema says in Adar I; and some say on both! Regarding a bar mitzvah, the Rema writes that the bar mitzvah takes place on Adar II; there are opinions that it is on Adar I; and some say to be strict and to start wearing Tefillin from Adar I, though to consider oneself bar mitzvah one would wait till Adar II.
Actually, if you’ve been paying attention and not nodding off, you should have noticed a stirah (contradiction) in the rulings of the Rema. For a yahrtzeit, we cited Rema as holding Adar I as the main Adar; while for a bar mitzvah he rules it is Adar II. There are poskim who differentiate between bar mitvah and yahrtzeit, with various suggestions for the difference.
In closing, it should be noted that al pi kabbala, Jewish mysticism, each Hebrew month represents a different Tribe in Israel. Adar, of which there is sometimes one and sometimes two, corresponds to Yosef, who is sometimes counted as one Tribe, and sometimes as two (Menashe and Ephraim.)
May we all merit to have a renewed Sanhedrin to decide every year whether it should be me’uberes or not!