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Two Adar’s and Mini Purim!

Rav Moshe Isserlis, the Rema (1530 - 1572), concludes his magnificent comments on the Shulchan Aruch by discussing whether one is obligated to have a feast on Purim Katan, the 14th of Adar I (this year on Fri, Feb 23). After presenting two approaches about whether one is obligated to have a feast, he concludes that even though the prevalent custom is not to have a full-blown Purim feast, one should increase his meal somewhat in order to fulfill the stringent approach. "And", he adds based on Mishlei 15:15, “וטוב לב משתה תמיד” meaning “A good heart feasts continually!”. These words, are a curious way to finish his Halachic series, and spawned many creative explanations by other super-commentators.    


One of those, written by the Shaarei Teshuva, Rav Chaim Mordechai Margolius (C. 1750 - 1818), is particularly inspiring.


He suggests that the Rema wants to compare the Purim Katan meal to the Chanukah meals.  There is no obligation to have feasts on Chanukah (Orach Chaim 670:2), but, just like many transform the Chanuka meals into “Seudot Mitzva”, i.e. Mitzvah Meals, by adding songs of praise, words of Torah, and by recounting the miracles, so too we can transform our meal on mini-Purim.


He quotes that ‘good-heartedness’ has two special associations in rabbinic literature. A. Songs of praise are referred to as "service to Hashem with joy and good-heartedness" in Gemara Erchin 11a, and B. Words of Torah are also associated with "טוב לב" as we see by Boaz (Ruth 3:7, see also Shabbat 63b).


So, explains the Shaarei Teshuva, the Rema is essentially defining ‘good-heartedness’, and asking us transform to our meal on Purim Katan into a holy meal. 


It’s fascinating to note that Purim should have been held in this first Adar, as we always perform Mitzvot sooner rather than later. However, explains the Gemara in Megillah 6b explains that solely to keep ‘the redemption of Purim close to the redemption of Passover’. This means that in reality, the first Adar has the same properties as the second Adar for all but Purim itself. So when our sages (Taanit 29a) tell us ‘when Adar enters we increase in joy’ it applies also for the first Adar.


But how do you define happiness? That’s what the Rema’s parting message was! True happiness involves a deep level of satisfaction procured from our souls celebrating Hashem and the miracles he performs for us.


Chodesh Tov, wishing you a cheerful Adar!

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