This joyous Hebrew month of Adar began on February 26th this year. Adar is considered to be a joyous month because most of us, having become impatient with winter, are ready for the joys of spring and the appearance of the mardi gras like holiday of Purim. As we are familiar with Purim, I am not going to write about it. If you want to learn about Purim, or more about Purim as the case may be, I encourage you to “google” it on your computer. Yet even as Purim is the focus of the month, two other events of great significance for Jewish history also take place; the birthday of Moshe Rabbenu (Moses our teacher) and the death of Moshe, both of which are said by our religious tradition to have taken place on 7 Adar.
As far as I can discover there is no real reason for this belief. It does not say in the Torah that Moshe was born on the 7th of Adar, nor the Moshe died on that date. The date is totally the invention of rabbinic minds. So what were the Rabbis thinking when they decided on the 7th of Adar? Adar is easy to explain as it is the month of joy so it is natural that it would be chosen as the date of Moshe’s birth as he was the instrument of the Jewish people’s freedom from slavery. Also, the month following Adar is Nisan, the first month of the Hebrew calendar, because it was the first month our ancestors lived in freedom, which would make Adar the last month of their slavery to Pharaoh; again an easy pick for the time of Moshe’s birth.
Why the 7th? Possibly, as the Rebma explains, it is because as we learn from the story of creation in Bereshit (Genesis) it is the day on which God rests and reflects on the glory of creation; since there was/is no greater prophet in the Jewish people’s history than Moshe, he too, reflects the grandeur of creation: the creation of human beings. The choice of the 7th of Adar as the date of Moshe’s death may be found in these words of singer/songwriter Harry Chapin: “all my life’s a circle, sunrise and sunset.” Appropriately, the rabbis might have thought, God “gathers” (Deut.32:50) Moshe to his ancestors on that date. Equally, it might be thought that just as Moshe was born into earthly life on the 7th of Adar, God rewards by allowing him to be born in the olam habah (world to come) on that date.
So even as we celebrate Purim, lets celebrate the life of Moshe Rabbenu, Moshe our teacher, by reminding ourselves that there is always something to learn.