1. Our sages explained that the seventh of Adar is significant because it is both the birthday and Yahrzeit of Moshe.
In this context, they relate that Haman cast lots to determine when to destroy the Jews and rejoiced when his lots fell on the month of Adar. He knew that Moshe had passed away in that month. However, he was not aware that Moshe had also been born in that month.
The latter factor proved more significant as Rashi concludes his commentary on the passage: “A person’s birth is sufficient to compensate for his death.” Thus, we see how the entire Purim story is connected with the seventh of Adar.
Haman did not rely on his own powers to choose a month in which to destroy the Jewish people. He cast lots, a means of divination which transcends intellect. He realized that from a rational perspective, there might be arguments which could have saved the Jews. Therefore, he sought to transcend intellect, hoping this course of action would bring him greater success.
When the lot fell on the month of Adar, Haman rejoiced. He realized though, that his success was not entirely assured. However, the fact that Moshe, the redeemer of the Jews, had died in this month surely appeared to him as a propitious omen. Nevertheless, his schemes were foiled. As Rashi comments, Moshe’s birth was able to “compensate” for his death.
The Hebrew word translated as “compensate,” “Kaper,” is generally rendered as “atone.” Torah law describes three levels of atonement:
- An atonement which nullifies the severe aspects of the sin committed;
- An atonement which wipes away the sin entirely. leaving no trace of wrongdoing:
- An atonement which brings a person close to G-d and arouses His favor. (Note Iggeres HaTeshuvah. chapter two. for description of this level.)
Moshe’s birth “compensated” for his death in the most complete manner possible. Firstly, it nullified, not only the severe aspects, but the totality of Haman’s decree. Furthermore, it transformed the month from “sorrow to rejoicing and mourning to festivity.” It brought about a new holiday; one on which Jews celebrate with unbounded joy, ad d’lo yoda; a holiday which has an eternal aspect. Our sages taught that in Messianic times, all the festivals will be nullified, with the exception of Purim.
The above raises a question: Moshe’s death and birthday took place on the seventh of Adar. Rashi emphasizes that the dates were exact, on the very day Moshe was born, he passed away.
The day that Haman chose for to destroy the Jews was the thirteenth of Adar. Why was Haman so pleased that the lot fell in the month of Adar? What connection is there between the seventh and the thirteenth?
From this, we are forced to conclude that Moshe’s death, and hence, also his birth, had an effect on the entire month. This principle is also reflected in Jewish law. The Talmud Yerushalmi states that, if there is no other alternative, one may fulfill the obligation of reading the Megillah throughout the month of Adar.
Thus, the seventh of Adar provides each of us with a lesson and an example of how negative factors can be transformed. Though this lesson applies throughout the year, on the seventh of Adar, there is a greater emphasis on this concept. It has to be studied,... and studied in a manner in which “Great is study for it brings to deed,” and then. applied in our daily life.
2. The Purim festival, and hence, its source, the seventh of Adar, are connected with the concept of “Yehudim,” Jews. Although there are seventy other names for the Jewish people (Bamidbar Rabbah 14:12), it is this name alone which is used throughout the Megillah.
The sages explain that the name “Yehudi” implies a denial of idol worship and an acceptance of the entire Torah. Hence, in the month of Adar, and on the seventh of Adar in particular, an emphasis must be placed on “the entire Torah.”
How is that possible? We are, by nature, limited human beings. The answer is that we must set “the entire Torah” as our ultimate goal and, in practice, begin by trying to achieve a smaller, more realistic objective, each individual according to his own abilities.
Even the latter is a formidable task, for there are a multitude of different elements within Yiddishkeit. However, in this regard, we are given a clear directive from the Megillah with its statement: “For the Jews, there was light and joy, gladness and honor.” Our sages commented: “‘Light’ refers to Torah.”
The latter is intrinsically related to the seventh of Adar, Moshe’s Yahrzeit. The Alter Rebbe writes that on a Tzaddik’s Yahrzeit “all of his deeds, Torah and service... are revealed and shine... below,... effecting salvation in the depths of the earth.”
There is no need to search concerning the focal point of Moshe’s service. Everyone realizes that it centered around the Torah as it is written: “The Torah which Moshe commanded us is the heritage of the congregation of Yaakov,” “Remember the Torah of Moshe, My servant.” Though Moshe had many other qualities, the fundamental element of his service was Torah study. Thus, on the seventh of Adar, there must be an emphatic commitment mn n thst ron1 m
This is relevant to every Jew from the highest levels, “the heads of your tribes” to the lowest, “your wood choppers and water drawers.” This is particularly relevant to “the Torah of Moshe,” Torah SheBiksav, the Written Law.
The Sages of the Mishnah and Gemara also made contributions to Torah SheBaal Peh, the Oral Law. Though “every new idea conceived by a trained scholar was given to Moshe at Sinai,” the revelation of these concepts can legitimately be credited to other individuals. In contrast, every word of the Written Law was transcribed by Moshe.
It is in the study of the Written Law that a measure of equality can be established among all different levels of Jews. In regard to the study of the Oral Law, there are differences, each individual according to his particular level of understanding. If someone does not understand what he is studying, it is not considered as Torah study.
In contrast, the study of the Written Law is not dependent on our comprehension. “Even if one does not understand the meaning of the words [he is saying]... he fulfills the mitzvah of Torah study. Therefore, “every am haaretz [unlearned person] is required to recite the blessings before the Torah each morning... and when called to the Torah.” Furthermore, he recites the same blessing as even the greatest Torah sage.
Our sages taught: “Deed is most essential.” Today, on the seventh of Adar, we must raise a storm, stressing the importance of Torah study. On a practical level, this means sitting down to study Torah.
In certain dimensions of Torah, this is not as necessary. For example, when it comes to making a halachic decision, Divine assistance is granted. However, in regard to Torah study in its simplest sense, there is only one alternative. You must sit down and learn as our sages declared: “If one says, ‘I didn’t labor, but I discovered,’ don’t believe him.
There are a number of ways a Jew can connect himself to the Torah. He can, like the tribe of Zevulun, support the Torah study of others and thus, receive an equal share of their merit. He can write a Torah scroll or teach Torah to his children and grandchildren. The latter service is considered equal to receiving the Torah at Mount Sinai (Berachos 21b).
A Jew can involve himself in any number of valuable activities. He can pray at great length, give charity, write Torah scrolls, etc., etc. However, there is only one path to discover new concepts of Torah: “I labored and I found,” effort must be invested in Torah study.
This is not to say that Torah study as such is every Jew’s goal. A Jew’s goal is to serve his Creator and that service can be expressed in many different ways.
Not everyone has the natural tendencies to study. There are many whose character thrust leads them in other directions. This is a sign that the purpose of their existence may be to serve G-d through those means. However, in the realm of Torah study itself, the only way to achieve and discover new concepts is to work and labor.
Therefore, the seventh of Adar should be used to raise a clamor about Torah study and thus, motivate a renewed dedication to that goal in the year to come.
There is another aspect which must be stressed. Before a person can derive new Torah concepts, he must “acquire Torah.” Pirkei Avos lists 48 qualities necessary to “acquire Torah.” Among those qualities are: “close association with colleagues” and “sharp discussion with students.” Thus, implicit in the “storm” with which each individual arouses himself to Torah study, is also the commitment to work with others to the same goal.
This may be inferred from the Alter Rebbe’s statement in Hilchos Talmud Torah:
It is a positive command of the Torah for each and every sage in Israel to teach all the students [possible]... as it is said: “You shall teach them to your children.” [Our sages commented:] “‘Your children’ — the rofprq tr~ tho etilrlonte ~
The need to spread Torah to others is not an additional factor, like charity or fear of G-d, which though significant is not an integral aspect of Torah study itself. Spreading Torah is one of the “qualities with which Torah is acquired.” It is not merely a preparatory step or a means, but Torah itself, for as Hillel taught, regarding Ahavas Yisrael, “this (Ahavas Yisrael) is the entire Torah.”
This applies to every Jew regardless of his own level. A person cannot claim that this responsibility does not fall upon him because he is not sufficiently learned. As mentioned above, every Jew, no matter who he is, recites the blessings over the Torah, thus, implying that the entire Torah is his.
Even if he does not understand Hebrew, the Torah is accessible in translation. We find the Megillah stressing translation “for each and every nation in its language.” It would be preferable to study the material in the original but there is no time! The fact that today is the seventh of Adar, Moshe’s birthday, requires that the effort to study, or at least to listen to a shiur, begin today.
The above is surely connected with this week’s Torah portion since we must, as the Alter Rebbe taught, “live with the times,” adopt our lives to the weekly Torah portion. Thus, this week, we must derive a lesson from parshas Tetzaveh.
Tetzaveh means “command.” The subject of the verb is Moshe as the verse states: “And you [Moshe] shall command....” However, the word is also related to the word “tzavsa,” which means connection or bond. Thus, this portion centers around the establishment of a connection and bond with Moshe.
How can such a bond be established? through the study of Torah. As the Alter Rebbe writes in Tanya, through Torah study a person unites with the Torah, G-d’s will ad wisdom, in “a wondrous union. to which no comparison can be found.”
Similarly, through the study of Torah we can establish a connection with Moshe. Our sages taught that “whoever repeats a teaching in the name of a sage should picture its author as standing before him.” By studying someone’s teaching, a bond between the teacher and the student can be established to the point where the student can “see the teacher as standing before him.”
May the above have an effect on our deed and action, both in regard to our own Torah study and in regard to our efforts with others. May these activities bring about a personal redemption to each individual and thus, lead to the Messianic redemption in the world at large.
The Zohar declares that if one Tzaddik would turn to G-d in complete teshuvah, Mashiach would come. This is alluded to in the Rambam’s statements that each individual should look at himself, and the entire world as equally balanced and with one mitzvah, he can tip the balance and “bring do1 i vprance and Ral vati on t~
Thus, we will proceed from the seventh of Adar to greet Mashiach. Our sages also tied his coming to Moshe, stating: “He was the first redeemer, he will be the final redeemer.” May it be speedily in our days.
3. Above it was mentioned how the positive influence of Moshe’s birth on the seventh of Adar obscures the negative influences associated with his death in Rashi’s words: “A Person’s birth is sufficient to compensate for his death.”
The latter statement is difficult to comprehend: Ecclesiastes explicitly states: “The day of one’s death is better than the day of his birth.” From a rational point of view as well, one can appreciate the advantage of a person’s final day. Then, we can see whether his service throughout his lifetime was complete or not. In contrast, on the day of a person’s birth, his future is still unknown. It’s impossible to be certain how he will live his life.
Each person has two inclinations — one good, and one the opposite. Furthermore, throughout our lives, we are exposed to different challenges. The very descent of the soul to the body, “from a high roof to a deep pit,” presents a difficult challenge. Were G-d not to assist us, we would not be shle to he slleressflll
On the basis of the above, Rashi’s statement praising the day of a person’s birth is difficult to comprehend.
That difficulty can be explained when the statement is considered in its full context. The passage is not speaking of the birth of a common individual. but rather of Moshe.
In regard to most people, there is an advantage to the day of their death, for only then, is it possible to see whether they used all the potential which they were granted at birth. However, from the moment Moshe was born, it was possible to perceive his positive qualities. Our sages state that as soon as he was born “the entire house became full with light.”
Before he began his service, even before he was given a name, he was able to shine light into his surroundings. Furthermore, the house which he illuminated was that of Amram, the leader of the generation. Surely, Amram’s house was already filled with light, the light of Torah, and yet, Moshe was able, at birth, to add an even greater light.
Therefore, Moshe’s birth was able to “compensate” for his death for in his particular instance, immediately upon birth, he was able to reveal light in the world.
This concept can also be related to parshas Tetzaveh, for that portion contains an allusion to Moshe’s death. From parshas Shmos, which relates the birth of Moshe, onward, Moshe’s name is mentioned in every portion of the Torah with the exception of parshas Tetzaveh. It is explained that this alludes to our sages’ statement: “There is no dominion on the day of one’s death.”
Of necessity, there must also be a positive concept associated with the omission of Moshe’s name. It can be suggested that this concept also is associated with Moshe’s birth.
At birth, Moshe was given a different name. He was not named Moshe until three months later when Pharaoh’s daughter saved him from the Nile.
Throughout his lifetime, Moshe’s service was connected with the name he was later given. However, at birth, when “the entire house was filled with light,” his essence, which was above the name Moshe was revealed. Thus, parshas Tetzaveh, which is read close to the seventh of Adar, does not mention the name Moshe in order to allude to his essential qualities which are above those implied by that name.
A person might ask: What relation does all the above have to me, here and now in 5745?
The answer to this question is based on the Alter Rebbe’s statement that each Jew has within his soul a spark from the soul of Moshe. Furthermore, this principle is not merely an idea developed in Chassidic thought alone, but is rather evident from the Talmid itself
The Torah states: “Now, Israel, what does G-d want of you? to fear Him.” Our sages note that the tone of the verse implies that fear is not a difficult service to achieve and question the meaning of the verse: “Is fear such a small thing?”
They reply: “Yes, for Moshe, fear is a small thing?”
That answer is difficult to comprehend. The verse is not addressed to Moshe, but rather to the totality of the Jewish people. How are Moshe’s spiritual heights relevant to them?
However, we are forced to say, as the Alter Rebbe explains, that a certain dimension of Moshe is found in every Jew. Thus, the seventh of Adar is relevant to each of us. It is a day on which our “entire house,” our bodies, our homes, and our surrounding environments can be “filled with light.
In this manner, we can then join the lights of many Jews together and with that light push away the darkness of exile. The service of the previous generations already generated a large degree of light. That light remains in “an eternal union” above time and hence continues to shine at present. Nevertheless. with each generation. there is an additional descent into darkness. We are, thus, charged with the task of bringing light into realms which were previously not refined.
We must complete the task of refinement and, similarly, the task of revealing G-dly light in this world, these being the services of Aharon and Moshe respectively. They are called the unterfihrers, those who lead the bride and groom, G-d and the Jewish people, to the ultimate wedding, the Messianic redemption. May it be speedily in our days.