Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis
Chief Rabbi Ephraim MirvisEliran Aharon

In this Jewish leap year we are now commencing the second month of Adar and fascinatingly, in the Gemara (Megillah 6b), there is a debate as to which Adar Purim should be in.

Rav Eliezer’s view, which many of us can identify with, is, “Ein ma’avirim al hamitzvot,” – “We shouldn’t delay a mitzvah,” particularly the celebration of a happy mitzvah. Don’t put it off – once you’ve got the chance, go for it! Therefore he advocates that Purim should be celebrated in the first month of Adar.

Rabban Shimon ben Gamliel however differs and we follow his view in halakha. What’s his rationale? He says that Purim should be in the second Adar in order not to separate one geula from the next, one celebration of redemption from the next celebration, that is to say that Purim and Pesach should be as close as possible on our calendar. Every year they’re just one month apart and so too, that should be the case in a leap year. Now I might have thought that the opposite would be the case. If we’ve got two, major happy festivals, let’s separate them. Why cluster them together?

Rabban Shimon ben Gamliel here identifies something which we as Jews are passionate about. Having endured so much tragedy, hardship and sorrow over the ages, to be able to celebrate Redemption is something very special for us and we don’t just want it to be a one-off celebration. We want to be on a roll. We want to go from happiness to happiness and have none-stop happiness at long last for our people! That’s why the joy of Purim is always linked on our calendar to the joy of Pesach.

We are exceptionally privileged and fortunate in our age to be able to celebrate yet other festivals of Redemption: from Adar we go to Nissan and from Nissan we go to Iyar, during which we have the new festivals of Yom Ha’atzmaut and Yom Yerushalayim. Therefore on our calendar today thanks to the inspiration we’ve received from our rabbis, we guarantee that indeed when it comes to celebrations we are on a roll.

And in this spirit may Hashem bless our people with continuous joy, not to suffer great tragedies as we have in the past but to only go from one simcha through to the next.