Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Adar and Lent

This year a strange coincidence occurred. We just celebrated the two day Rosh Chodesh (New Moon festival) of the month of Adar. As I mentioned, it states in the Babylonian Talmud Tractate Taanit (the Fast) 29a, ,משנכנס אדר מרבין בשמחה when Adar enters, joy is increased. In the mainstream Christian calendar, as is my understanding, yesterday was Mardi Gras or "Fat Tuesday", a joyous celebration which may be comparable to the boundless joy of the advent of Adar. However, today was "Ash Wednesday", the beginning of Lent, a 40 day period until the death of Jesus on Good Friday (also, as is my understanding). Well, Judaism too has a 40 day period of sorts. 40 days from today is the 10th of Nisan. On this very day we joyfully selected our pascal lambs for the sacrifice to prepare for the redemption less than a week away as the egyptians watched helpless as we took their fleecéd deities in to prepare for their sacrifice and consumption. Sound familiar? Maybe it's a stretch, but tell me if you get where I'm going with this. It's an eerie coincidence.

I should probably start this verse from the beginning (ibid),

אמר רב יהודה בריה דרב שמואל בר שילת משמיה דרב: כשם שמשנכנס אב ממעטין בשמחה ־ כך משנכנס אדר מרבין בשמחה

"Rav Yehuda son of Rav Shmuel son of Shilet heard this from Rav: Just as when the month of Av enters, joy diminishes, thus when the month of Adar enters, joy increases."

Rosh Chodesh Av, the beginning of the 9 day period of severe mourning culminating in the anniversary of loss of our Temples, the punishment of the Israelites resulting from the Ten Spies, The razing of the Temple mount, Crusader Massacre at Worms, the expulsion from England, the Spanish Inquisition, and the advent of World War I which led to the Holocaust. THAT is an appropriate theme. Not us parading about joyfully as Christians walk around with ashes on their foreheads. Of course I do not mean that, we do have separate calendars. I just find it fascinating when there are interesting correspondance of the calendars.

Speaking of Ash Wednesday, I did not see a single person wearing ashes today in the streets of Jerusalem. I even saw a priest (no, not in that way, I have not become an apostate, I just noticed on on the street), clad in brown robes and rosaries, and he didn't have ashes on his forehead. Are there perhaps varying customs or different dates for different Christian denominations?

Pardes is absolutely obsessed with Adar festivities, there are joke-schedules printed all over the place including numerous opportunities Avodah Zarah (Idolatry) and treif-eating. In addition, one of the female teachers pulled off her outer clothing to reveal -- a complete Kohen Gadol costume. I was not expecting that. If these past two days are any indication, this is going to be an interesting month.

In addition, I have led way too many services recently. The leadership of the egalitarian service seems to rotate between myself and David Sager always, with perhaps one other leader in a week. I want to teach more people how to lead. I don't mind leading, but I've led musaf three out of the past three days of Rosh Chodesh, and David has led mincha for the last three days. We together have monopolized most of the services that have occurred since I arrived at Pardes. I really don't mind leading, but I would prefer more people beginning to lead and would be happy to teach them AND/OR lend them my copy of the Koach Service CDs that we made last year. It was this time of year last year that I did some major liturgical training for a number of people and I don't mind doing it again.

I have more to say but I forgot what it was. I guess I will update when I remember

Oh well, Happy Adar,

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