By Laura Seymour
This week was Rosh Chodesh Adar — we have officially entered a really great Jewish month! Purim is not until March 14 but that gives us lots of time to get ready. Purim is a holiday with so many layers — lots of fun and lots to learn! However, the month of Adar has another important date: the seventh of Adar. Moses was born on the seventh of Adar and also died on the seventh of Adar. While Haman may have thought that the month of Adar would be a sad time for the Jews because of Moses’ death, we celebrate Moses’ birth and life as well. The story goes that when Haman was drawing lots for when to destroy the Jews, he saw the date of Moses’ death. Haman felt that the date would cause misfortune for the Jewish people. He didn’t realize that the birthday celebration would actually make the month a very positive one (and lead to his demise!).
From the website www.askmoses.com, I got another interesting piece of information. “The Lubavitcher Rebbe points out that a person’s soul shines stronger on his or her birthday. The aspect of the soul that is contained within a person is actually a spark of the person’s root neshamah (soul), which stays above. This neshamah that is above the earthly Neshamah is called ‘mazel.’ A person’s mazel is stronger on the birthday because the mazel, which drips vitality into the soul, and the soul are in perfect alignment on that day.” Think about this on your own birthday but especially on March 3 this year when we remember Moses’ birth and death — this is the collective birthday of the Jewish people. Make this new month a very special one!
At the J, we have chosen a particular Jewish value for each month and for the month of Adar; our value is ometz lev. We usually translate this as “courage” but the literal translation is “strength of heart.” To be courageous is not about physical strength and it is not about being fearless. It is about doing what is right even when — or especially when — it is hard. The story of the life of Moses and the story of Purim are great occasions to talk about being courageous. Talk about our Jewish heroes of the past and present and what they did in their lives that took courage. And, with our children, we must talk about the things we can do to stand up to those who try to hurt others. Use the stories of our tradition to talk about the challenges everyone faces today.
Laura Seymour is director of camping services and Jewish life and learning at the Jewish Community Center of Dallas.
By Laura Seymour