The Month of Adar: Ponderings Pertaining to Purim Katan Practices and Celebrations Introduction
We are arriving at the zenith of Adar Alef with Purim Katan and Shushan Purim Katan this Friday
and Shabbat. Usual y, these days pass us by without having any significance in most of our lives
other than seeing them written in the calendar. I was wondering since Purim Katan does have a
name, it’s not just like any other day, perhaps it is supposed to be celebrated in some way? We
are all trying somehow to live with the times, becoming conscious of the special energies available
to tap into, to make the best of each and every day. So is there any difference between the energy
of Purim Katan and the rest of the month of Adar Alef? Are we supposed to take a break from
peeling potatoes and scrubbing the floors this Friday in order to celebrate something? We have
been comparing Adar Alef and Adar Beit, noticing that everything in Adar Alef is small and quiet
compared to the fanfare of Adar Beit. Just as the moon is smal er than the dominating sun, the
month of Adar Alef is hidden like a fetus in the womb. It is actually this month which is called the
“month of pregnancy,” as if the pregnant year is carrying an additional month in its bel y.
Perhaps we may even say that although Purim is born in Adar Beit it is conceived in Adar Alef.
Therefore, during Purim Katan we have the ability to connect with the root and origin of what
Purim is all about. Our Sages teach: There is no difference between the fourteenth the first Adar and the fourteenth of the second Adar except in the matter of reading the Megil ah and gifts to the poor.1From here we learn that everything that applies to Purim also applies to Purim Katan,
except that we don’t have an obligation to hear the Megillah or to give special charity to the poor.
Interestingly, the Talmud doesn’t mention anything about being exempt from giving Mishloach Manot – Purim gifts on Purim Katan. From this we may infer that indeed it is very appropriate to
give Mishloach Manot also on Purim Katan. So when you are busy with your Shabbat cooking this
Friday, you may want to make a little extra and set aside into pretty baskets. You can have these
Purim Katan gifts delivered to anyone whom you want to reach out to, someone you wish to
forgive, someone lonely or friendless, or perhaps you want to surprise your best friend with a
Just as the moon is connected with our subconscious and inner emotions, Purim Katan is about
tuning into the inner internal/eternal essence of Purim. When I think about what is the deepest
root of the main theme of Purim, Achdut – unity among Jews and Simcha – joy come to mind.
Doesn’t sharing Purim gift, especial y when delivered by a third party bring about love and unity
among us? Unity and joy are interrelated. The joy of Adar is what makes the month of Adar the
“pregnant” month of the year. It is so full of joy that it is as if Adar were pregnant with happiness.
On Purim Katan there are no halachic requirements for celebration. We have the opportunity to
1 Babylonian Talmud, Megillah 6b.
exult in our natural love for Hashem without being limited to specific required mitzvot. There are
no restraints to our joy. Whatever we do to increase our joy oKatan, we do because we
want to, not because we have to. Rather than keeping the physical mitzvot on Purim proper, Purim
Katan gives us an occasion of joy and preparation for the transformation possible during every day
of the two months of Adar. It is thefelt joy that comes from showing our love for Hashem,
without a requirement, that can carry us, through multiple years, until the nexKatan.2 1FPurim Katan – A Microcosm of the Larger Purim
Purim Katan belongs to the group of days where we refrain from tachanun,3 fasting and eulogies,
but no festivities are required.4 However, it’s not every year that we merit to celebrate Purim
Katan, only seven times every 19 years! Thus we better welcome this holiday as a precious guest
because it only visits us at rare occasions. Purim Katan is the only time we have a minor festival
preceding the actual festival. We have thirty extra days to put ourselves into Purim spirit. Yet
Purim Katan is more than an official reminder that it is time to begin preparing ourselves for the
upcoming holiday. In all matters, safe for the obligation to hear the Megil ah and giving gifts to the
poor, both Purims are equalized. Therefore, also on Purim Katan it is appropriate to remember the
miracle of being saved from the enemy. This year as we go about our Shabbat preparations, let us
try to recall miracles in your life, recognize Hashem’s hidden providence and express thankfulness
for being saved from something horrible like an accident, an illness or a personal breakdown. It is
also good to remember that in spite of the recent horrible holocaust threatening to wipe out the
entire Jewish people, we are still here today celebrating!
Another important aspect of Purim which we can take on equal y on Purim Katan is the
commitment to the binding nature of the Oral Torah and faith in the Rabbinic authority (Emunat Chachamim). There is a famous Talmudic statement teaching that the Jewish people didn’t accept
the Torah willingly at Sinai, but rather G-d suspended the mountain above their head saying: “If
you accept the Torah, good, otherwise this will be your burial place.”5 However, if the Jewish
people were coerced into accepting the Torah, how can they be responsible to keep it?
Nonetheless, they reaffirmed their acceptance in the days of Achashverosh, as it states: “The Jews established and accepted.”6They established what they had already accepted.7 On Purim, the
Jewish people took upon themselves not just to observe Purim as a holiday, but to re-accept the
Torah, specifically the Oral Torah. This is learned out from the order of the words, since we would
expect the Megillah to read “they accepted” before “established.” Thus, also on Purim Katan we
can reaffirm the Torah’s relevance to all times, to all places, under all conditions.
2 Rabbi Dr. Hillel ben David (Greg Killian, Purim Katan - ןטק םירופ The remainder of this article is based on this insightful article on 3 Tachanun is a prayer of supplication when falling on the incongruous with the festive nature of Purim Katan. Women are exempt from Tachanun. 4 Shulchan Aruch, 697:1. 5 Babylonian Talmud, Shabbat 88a. 6 Megillat Esther 9:27. 7 Babylonian Talmud, Shabbat 88a.
Purim and Pesach
There is a discussion in the Talmud of when to celebrate Purim during a leap year. The conclusion
is that we keep Purim in the Adar Beit in order to link the redemption of Purim to the redemption
of Pesach.8 Thus we see that the secret of Adar and Purim is “the end is wedged in the
We draw an association between these two festivals because of their shared theme of
redemption; both Purim and Pesach recount a fateful deliverance of Israel. The connection
between Purim and Pesach is hinted at thousands of years before the Purim story took place.
When Lot hosts the two angels to a meal at the eve of the destruction of Sodom, he serves them
matzah.10 We have a deep tradition that that fateful evening of Lot’s deliverance was Pesach.11
Yet, the Torah calls this meal that Lot provides for the angels a “mishteh” (drinking party). This
term alludes to the celebration of Purim mentioned in the Megillah with the identical term:
“mishteh.”12 Pesach is the festival of revealed redemption accompanied by miracles in the
sprouting light of spring, whereas Purim is the festival of redemption in darkness, without revealed
miracles, in the last month of the year, in the depth of winter. Together they enact complete
redemption. As an ancestor to Ruth the Moabites, Lot bore within him a spark of the Mashiach
who wil enact the complete redemption. Therefore, he has the ability to integrate these two
redemptions. The hidden seed within Lot, from which Mashiach wil sprout, enables him to
conduct a unified Pesach Seder and Purim feast as one!
Celebrating with Simcha – Joy!
While every holiday is celebrated with joy, the particular mitzvot attached constrain our joy into
specific requirements. Since there are no required mitzvot on Purim Katan, our joy can then be
unbridled without restraint. Even the mitzvah to rejoice by add a festive meal to celebrate Purim
Katan is not explicitly written in the Code of the Jewish Law,13 perhaps because it is on such an
elevated level that it can only be alluded to. The Shulchan Aruch writes: There is an opinion that to
increase in festivity and joy on the 14th of the first Adar, but this is not the custom.14 Nevertheless,
a person should increase somewhat in festivity. . for “One who is of good heart is always
celebrating.”15 Our Simcha is supposed to grow every day and carry us all the way to Pesach,
which in turn carries us through the year and back to Purim again!
8 Babylonian Talmud, Megillah 6b. 9 Sefer Yetzira 1:7. 10 Bereishit 19:3. 11 Rashi, Bereishit 19:3. 12 Megillat Esther 9:22. 13 It is only mentioned in the Abudraham known for his commentary on the Synagogue liturgy. 14 Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 697:1(The very last entry in Orach Chaim). 15 Mishlei 15:15;The Rema, Rav Moshe Isserles in his inline commentary and conclusion to the Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 697:1.
Purim Katan and Mashiach
“All the holidays will cease except Purim, as it states: “And its memory will not cease from their
descendants.”16 Even after all the other holidays are abolished Purim will remain.17 There is a
connection between Purim Katan and the Mashiach.18 They are both called small. Hashem
appeases the moon after having reduced her light by reminding her that the righteous shal be
named after her, “Ya’acov the Small, Shemuel the Small, David the Small. Yet On seeing that she was
not appeased, the Blessed Holy one said, ‘Bring atonement for Me, for I caused the moon to grow
small.’”19 In the future to Come the gap between the sun and the moon wil be healed. At that time
the moon wil gain the renewed ability to share the crown with its co-ruler: the sun. Improvement
can only happen via the motion of descent for the sake of progressing to an even higher place in the
end. Although we use the term ‘small’ (katan) with regard to Purim Katan, therein lies its
greatness, “this smal one wil be great,” with the true and complete Redemption when “the light
of the moon shal be as the light of the sun, and the light of the sun shal be sevenfold, as the light
of the seven days, on the day that Hashem binds up the breach of His people, and heals the stroke
16 Megillat Esther 9:28; Midrash, Yalkut Shimoni, Mishlei 9. 17 Midrash Mishlei 9:2. 18 I Shemuel 17:14. 19 Babylonian Talmud, Chulin 60b. 20 Yeshauya’hu 30:26.
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