Rosh Chodesh this week was extra exciting. We started Adar Rishon—the beginning of two months of Adar required for a leap year. A curious thing happens in the Musaf Shemoneh Esreh for Rosh Chodesh during a leap year: we add the words “ulchaparas pesha” – (and for atonement of willful sin.) Why specifically is this added during a leap year? The Pri Megadim says it’s added only until the end of Adar. Why not continue until Rosh Hashanah?
Our answer begins with knowing why we have a Jewish leap year. Quite simply, it’s to realign the lunar calendar with the solar calendar. This ensures Pesach will always be in the spring.
And why are the calendars different? The Gemara (Chullin 60b) explains that Hashem initially created two great luminaries, the sun and the moon, to be equal- both giving the same amount of light. The moon approached Hashem and complained, saying, “Two kings can’t share one crown. ”Hashem responded to this by shrinking the moon. From this point on, the moon became a reflection of the sun, with no light of its own.
Rav Matisyahu Salomon explains that the initial plan—both luminaries being equal—indicated total harmony in the world. But the moon didn’t want to share the spotlight. Hashem reduced the moon’s size to demonstrate the bitter consequence of jealousy. But the moon’s “complaining to Hashem” was just an indication that jealousy would be a powerful force in the world, that needed to be reckoned with. To return to the original plan of equality, humanity must eradicate jealousy. Doing so would allow both great luminaries to be equal once again, after the coming of Moshiach!
The Shelah haKadosh indicates that the solar and lunar calendar were originally identical. This changed when the moon was shrunk after its jealous outburst. Thus, the extra month makes us remember what happened to the moon and be cognizant that Creation was made imperfect by jealousy.
I believe this is why kapparos pesha – atonement – is only inserted until the end of Adar, because after the second month of Adar, the lunar and solar calendars are synchronized and symbolize the perfection of the world. In times of persecution, this is what gave the Jews so much encouragement. As they saw the waxing and waning of the moon, they realized the forces of evil only had power temporarily. They realized the time will come when evil will fade away and the forces of good will reign forever.
The choicest month for this synchronization is the month of Adar. Why? The Tur (Orach Chaim 417) says each month relates to ashevet (tribe.) Rav Schorr says Adar corresponds to Yosef Hatzadik, who was given a double portion in the land of Israel by virtue of his two children, Ephraim and Menashe, who became shevatim (Bereishis 48: 5 and 22). Similarly, Adar can also be doubled!
Further, Rav Avrohom Schorr points out that Yosef is the ideal person and Adar the ideal time to combat the sin of jealousy. He quotes Ovadia (1:18) “Vahaya Beis Yaakov aish, beis Yosef lehava, beis Eisav lekash…” (The House of Yaakov will be fire and the House of Yosef a flame, and the House of Eisav will be straw…) In the Hebrew word “aish” (fire), the letters aleph and shin stand for “ahavas shalom” (love of peace), while “kash” (straw) spelledkaf and shin is an acronym of “kinah and sinah” (jealousy and hatred). Yosef is the focal point of Yaakov’s love of peace, which will “burn away” jealousy and strife as fire burns straw. Indeed, everything Yosef did to his brothers when they came to Egypt for food during the famine, was only done to help them atone for their actions of jealousy towards him Therefore, Yoseph represents the ultimate “son of Yaakov,” who strives for peace and brotherhood.
That’s why Adar (Yosef!) is the month to be doubled. Ephraim and Menashe embody the concept of brotherly harmony – the antithesis of Eisav – as we see that Menashe never bore any jealousy toward his younger brother Ephraim, whom Yaakov blessed above him. So, too, we bless our children to be like Ephraim and Menashe.
The month of Adar is a time for peace and harmony for Klal Yisroel. Let us think of one person with whom we lack harmony and go to that person to foster love and reduce conflict between each other. May we merit to see harmony and peace amongst all Klal Yisroel, which will surely bring the Redemption and hasten the Tikkun Olam, bringing a state of perfection to the world and returning us, and the glorious lights in the sky, to their original pristine state of harmonious Creation.