“…in the twelfth year of King Ahasuerus, pur—which means “the lot”—was cast before Haman concerning every day and every month, [until it fell on] the twelfth month, that is, the month of Adar.” (Esther 3:7)
This verse in the Book of Esther is the first time the twelfth lunar month is referred to by its Bablylonian name – Adar.
Adar is the happiest month of the year. As the sages said:
when the month of Adar begins, one increases rejoicing. (Taanit 29a)
In Israel, you can feel the fun and festivity from the very first day of the month. But why is Adar such a happy month?
The 7th of Adar
The People of Israel have a long tradition of celebrating the anniversary of a great person’s day of death. The anniversary of the death of a great person is a very special, since it is the day they completed their life and when all the good they did becomes clear and revealed.
That is why we celebrate Moses’ day of death, the 7th of Adar. The Bible tells us Moses was “the most humble man who ever lived” (Numbers 12:3), and that he spoke with God “face-to-face” (Deuteronomy 34:10). He was the one who redeemed the Jewish people from Egypt, brought the Torah down from heaven on Mount Sinai and led the Israelites through the desert.
The life of a person of that caliber is worth celebrating!
This is one of the things that makes the month of Adar such a special month.
Purim – the 14th and 15th of Adar
But the primary reason for Adar being such a happy month is the holiday of Purim.
The story of Purim is told in its entirety in the Scroll of Esther. It chronicles the miraculous salvation of the Jewish people from total destruction and annihilation at the hands of the evil Haman during the Persian exile.
The salvation happened on the 14th and 15th days of the month of Adar. As the Scroll of Esther describes, the Jewish people were permitted to fight back against their attackers on those two days. In the end, the Jews killed over 80,000 of their enemies while no Jewish lives lost! All thanks to God, though His name is not mentioned even once in the entire book.
These two days were set as days of rejoicing, gift giving, charitable giving, and feasting. The Scroll of Esther is also read publicly both at night and during the day.
In most places the holiday of Purim is celebrated on the 14th of Adar, but residents of Jerusalem (and other cities which were surrounded by walls during the times of Joshua) celebrate on the 15th of Adar.
To this day, the holiday of Purim is the most festive day of the year.
Deeper insights into the month of Adar
As we’ve said, Adar is the month of happiness. The word “happiness” is an English translation of the Hebrew word simcha (שִׂמְחָה).
The word simcha actually refers to a unique state of deep internal happiness. And it takes work to get to it. The experience of simcha is the result of having an integrated intellectual and emotional knowledge that God runs the world.
To attain simcha, it’s not enough to think, “I know God runs the world,” or enough to “feel it in your heart.” You need to work on both thinking and feeling.
And when you integrate both, you’ll experience a deep happiness and contentment that can never be destroyed. Even on the roughest and darkest days.
So, how can you cultivate simcha?
There are many ways, but one of the simplest is to read the Scroll of Esther. But not just one time. Read it again and again, slowly and deeply. As you read it, focus on the details of the events in the book while keeping in mind that though His name is missing, God is behind every single detail of the story.
The Scroll of Esther tells the story of the Jewish people’s deliverance from a plot to exterminate them in Persia during the reign of King Ahasuerus. Although the name of God does not appear in the text, His presence is felt throughout the book. For example, God’s hand is evident in the chain of events that led to Esther becoming queen, in Mordecai’s discovery of the assassination plot, and in the king’s decision to spare the Jews. The Book of Esther serves as a reminder that even when God does not reveal Himself or His presence, His providence and guidance can be felt in the events of our lives.
The practice of reading the Scroll of Esther over and over will help you establish an awareness of God’s involvement in every moment of the story, which you can then apply to your own life.
When you recognize God in every aspect of your life, even the less pleasant events of your life that you might feel are “out of God’s control” (God forbid), will become just as meaningful as the good events. After all, they come from the same One source!
As you recognize God’s hand in everything, you’ll begin to see your faith become stronger, and from there, simcha will emerge.
You’ll know you reached simcha when you feel a deep sense of safety and a powerful, quiet, internal happiness both in your mind and in your heart.
So, grab your copy of the Scroll of Esther and get going!