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The Adrenalin of Adar - from a Shiur by Rav Ari Waxman, Summarized by Renee Fruchter (SFW ’08)
By: Rav Ari Waxman
The month of Adar is a unique month in the sense that it is turned into a month of simcha - ‘mishenichnas Adar marbin b’simcha’ (Gemara Ta’anit 29). Adar can be said to have adrenalin because of its miraculous and joyous qualities. On the holiday of Purim specifically, we hit a day of kabbalat hatorah, where the Jews accepted the Torah from love. But the simcha is not limited to the holiday of Purim alone; the entire month is affected. This is shown in the megilla itself, where the word ‘v’hachodesh’ is used (Esther 9:22).
One way in which we can understand the essence of the months is to parallel them with the twelve tribes. The Gra matches the months to their corresponding tribe according to seder hadgalim, which we find in Sefer Bamidbar. Just as Adar is the last month of the year, so too, Naftali is the last of the tribes (Bamidbar 2:29). The Sefer Yetzira also assigns a quality to each shevet, which for Naftali is laughter.
To really capture the tribe's essence one must examine its birth, its blessing from Ya’akov, and its blessing from Moshe. In order to study the nature of Adar, one can research the corresponding Jewish tribe, Naftali. Just as Adar is the last month of the year, so too, Naftali is the last of the tribes (Bamidbar 2:29). To really capture the tribe's essence one must examine the tribe's birth, its blessing from Ya’akov, and its blessing from Moshe.
When Naftali was born, Rachel states that she wrestled, "niftalti", with her sister and names the child Naftali (Bereishit 30:8). Rashi explains that Rachel was saying that she was stubborn and was twisting and turning, pleading to Hashem for a child so she can be equal to her sister. Rachel did not take no for an answer (Rashi 30:8).
When Ya’akov blesses Naftali, he says that the tribe is a deer-like messenger who gives forth beautiful words (Bereishit 49:21). Rashi clarifies that this means Naftali is a good runner (Rashi on Bereishit 49:21).
When Moshe blesses the tribe, he says that Naftali is satisfied (‘s’va ratzon’) and fulfils the will of Hashem. When the people of the tribe want something, they know how to get it (Devarim 31:21).
These two brachot and Rachel’s naming are all interconnected; the same principle lies within these three references to Naftali's essence. A person who is a good runner is able to fulfil what he wants. He is able to get from point A to point B quickly; to leave where he is, to break out of his current situation and achieve new heights. A good runner is not content with staying in the same place; he is interested in going, in moving, in growing. This is the same idea as ‘s’va ratzon’, closing the gap between who you are and who you want to be. This takes place at the birth of Naftali. Rachel breaks out of her present situation to reach the point of having what she wants – the birth of Naftali.
Another name for Israel is eretz hatzvi. The interesting thing about a deer is that when one cuts it open and sees the meat, one does not understand how the deer is able to hold all this meat (Gemara Ketubot 112). The same thing holds true for Israel, a land that is able to hold much more than what one would think. This quality of a deer is related to Naftali, whose symbol is a deer.
One way to achieve more that it appears possible to attain is through tefilla. A Gemara in Brachot explains the meaning of the phrase in Tehillim, ‘c’rum zulut livnei adam’, to mean that there are things in this world that in reality are rooted in the most exalted place and people miss these opportunities and are mezalzel in them. Rashi there explains that this context is tefilla. People think that the more accessible something is the cheaper it is.
Onkolos adds that when Rachel said "niftalti" she was referring to the twisting and turning of tefilla. Tefilla broke through nature to reach a point of fulfilling her ratzon (Onkolos on Bereishit 30:8).
In Megillat Esther, it is apparent that Haman's decree to kill all the Jews was clear to everyone in Persia. Mordechai responded with tefilla (‘vayiz’ak z’aka’ (Esther 4:1)), hoping to break through the natural course of events, which he succeeded in doing (Megillat Esther 4:1-2). Purim has this atmosphere of breaking through nature. On this day we give charity out to everyone, without really considering who we are giving to.
We are told that ‘reishit goyim amalek’, which has an acronym of rega. Amalek say “Rega, rega, rega! Who do you think you are?!? Don’t get carried away, there is a world and a natural order of events.” The response is the greatest jump from where we are, and we achieve this through tefilla.
Ta’anit Esther is a strange sort of tzom; we already know the end of the story. The idea of the fast is to incorporate and connect the tefilla aspect of yeshua to the celebration of Purim.
There are parallels between Purim and Yom Hakippurim as is seen by their names. On Yom Kippur, we stand engaged in the deepest level of tefilla where we are stretching out our hands to Hashem. On Purim, the response to use is to give tzedaka to whoever stretches out his hand. The normal boundaries and barriers are broken through. The walls between people are broken down through mishloach manot, and we can be whoever we want to be by dressing up.
With Naftali, we tap into the meaning of tefilla which is awoken again during the days of Adar – the sky’s the limit.
We are told in the Pachad Yitchak that had Moshe entered before Hashem had called him (Vayikra 1:1), he would have had the status of a talmid chacham bli da’at. What does this mean? Da’at means to know what is kodesh and what is chol, it is about knowing the boundaries and what belongs where. In Adar, the boundaries are removed. When a person is trying to get close to Hashem, sometimes he thinks that he is delving too deeply and that this is the realm of people far greater than him. If he pushes too far then he doesn’t have da’at and it is inappropriate. This applies to all year round apart from Adar (Pachad Yitzchak 27). With Esther, yeshua comes through Esther breaking through boundaries, even though the king did not call her, she went anyway. The gates of shamayim are open; we don’t need to wait for the tears of Yom Hakippurim. The whole redemption of Purim was by breaking through nature. We defeated the Persians even though it was pretty clear to everyone one else that the Jewish nation was going to be destroyed. At this time we accepted the Torah out of our own love and not because we were forced into it. Purim is the time to take off, dream, and explore the power of tefilla, which is the essence of Naftali. Furthermore, the quality of Adar is laughter, something that cannot be contained. This related very well to the nature of Naftali, which is davening to break through nature.
Overall, it is clear that Adar has special adrenalin where we break through nature to achieve what can be thought of as impossible. Just as Rachel pleaded with Hashem and would not take no for an answer until she had a child, so too Mordechai and the Jews davened to Hashem to be saved from Haman's decree. We must take advantage of this month's essence and plead with Hashem to break through nature and give us what we request.