April 19, 2024
Purim Katan 5784
  • “People assume that time is a strict progression of cause to effect, but actually, from a non-linear, non-subjective viewpoint, it’s more like a big ball of wibbly-wobbly, timey-wimey … stuff” – Doctor Who (David Tennant)

Time zones and “Daylight Savings Time” are artificial man-made constructs; the monthly cycle of the new and full moon are a constant. The Hebrew calendar is based on a lunar cycle, divided into twelve (29 or 30 day) months that begin and end with the rising of each new moon. A “leap month” (a second Adar) is added to the Hebrew calendar seven times every 19 years to synchronize the lunar cycle to the slightly longer solar year. The year 5784 (2024) happens to be is a Hebrew Leap Year containing the months of Adar I and Adar II.

Today is the 14th day of Adar I, also known as Purim Katan. Rabbi Moishe Chanowitz of Chabad St. Maarten/Martin shares his thoughts about this special day in his weekly “Message from the Rabbi” email:

“Because this year is a Jewish leap year, with an extra month of Adar, the holiday of Purim is not celebrated for another month, in Adar II. But that doesn’t mean we don’t get to celebrate this month too. The 14th of Adar I is marked as Purim Katan (פורים קטן), or “miniature Purim.” While we don’t read the megillah or have parties and share gifts of food, the date is still commemorated. It is an opportunity to remind ourselves of the meaning of the holiday of Purim, making the build up to the real thing even more exciting.

Purim famously celebrates the Jewish people’s victory over Haman and the anti-Semites of the day. They wanted to kill all Jews, and with Queen Esther’s intervention, the Jews were allowed to fight back and stand up to their enemies. With G-d’s help, not only did they succeed in fighting back, but they also established themselves as a power to be reckoned with, eventually leading to the rebuilding of the Temple in Jerusalem.

Mordechai, the leader of the Jewish people at the time, instilled within the Jews a sense of connection. Although they were spiritually deficient at the time, once Haman’s decree became known, Mordechai inspired the Jewish people to reconnect with their faith, reminding them that no matter how far from religion a Jew strays, there is always a path of return. And the miracle is that they listened – the Jews took Mordechai’s words seriously, coming together as a community, ready to do whatever was necessary to maintain their national identity.

Because of Mordechai’s insistence that the Jewish spark is alive within every Jew, circumstances suddenly changed in their favor. Where there had been dread, there was now pride; where there had been sorrow, there was now joy; and where there had been fear, there was now absolute conviction in the righteousness of their cause. May we continue to live up these ideals even in the most trying times, igniting Jewish pride despite what the world around us may say. And may we merit the ultimate victory, the redemption and the coming of Moshiach, may it be in our times! Shabbat shalom, from Rabbi Moishe and Sara Chanowitz.”

Many thanks to Rabbi Moishe Chanowitz for his inspiration and background research for this article. Rabbi Chanowitz is building a “Museum of Jewish Historic Sites of the Caribbean” and encourages you to visit. Please email him at rabbi@jewishsxm.com to arrange a personal tour of the Museum on your next trip to St. Maarten/Martin.

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