Sunday, February 6

A Very Special Rosh Chodesh

Yesterday was Rosh Chodesh Adar I.  Why Adar I?  Because this is Shanah Me'uberet (literally a pregnant year).  In English we call it a leap year. 

Froggy was very eager when she saw that we were entering Adar that Purim was just around the corner.  She was more than a little disappointed to learn that even though this is Adar I, Purim is still over a month away.  This is Froggy's first Shanah Me'uberet so it took some explaining as to how Adar I came to being and how it is different from Adar II

In the fourth century, Hillel II established a fixed calendar with a 19 year cycle.  The cycle is very complicated to remember until you look at it musically. The pattern of leap years follows the major scale: for each whole step there are two regular years and a leap year; for each half-step there is one regular year and a leap year.

I explained the process particularly with the scale because I find that the most fascinating.  What boggled her and I was unable to explain is why is Adar II is the "real" Adar, the one in which Purim is celebrated, the one in which yahrzeits for Adar are observed, the one in which a 13-year-old born in Adar becomes a Bar Mitzvah. Why is Adar I is the "extra" Adar? From her perspective if it is first it should be the real one.  I know that the extra month is added in front but not why.  I looked and looked and could not find an answer.


  1. I'm not sure what you mean about the "real" Adar. Naomi Rivka was born on the 12th of Adar 1, but we usually celebrate in the ONLY Adar we get. My older kids' father died in the 2nd Adar a few weeks later, and that's when the yahrzeit is observed. Usually the dates are only 2 weeks apart, even though they took place 6 weeks apart, during the shana me'uberet 6 years ago.

    If Naomi was a boy, her bar mitzvah would be in the FIRST Adar when she turned 13, if that year had two Adars. If my dxh had died in the FIRST Adar, that's when his yahrzeit would be observed. I have never heard of pushing simchas into the second month arbitrarily.

    Though it might be helpful, in this case, because it would mean I didn't have to make a birthday party in only ten days!!!

    ("sorry, dear, you'll have to wait a month to turn 6!")

  2. p.s. this Chabad rabbi says some people have the custom you refer to. I've never met them, but you're definitely right that some do. Sorry I doubted you! :-))))