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Chanukah and Thanksgiving in 2013

We enjoyed reading Jonathan Mizrahi’s Hanukkah and Thanksgiving: A once in eternity overlap:

Next year features an anomaly for American Jews – The first day of Hanukkah coincides with Thanksgiving, on 11/28/2013 (meaning the first night of Hanukkah is actually the night before Thanksgiving). I was curious how often this happens. It turns out that it has never happened before…and it will never happen again.
(Correction: it happened once before, in 1888: see Addendum.)
Tip of the hat to Adam Trachtenberg for passing along the article.

Purim Katan

Purim Katan is a rare guest that deserves special attention. In the 19-year cycle of regular and leap years we have nineteen Purims, but only seven Purim Katans. We must truly utilize it for special activities.

There’s a strong connection between Purim and Purim Katan. The Mishnah teaches: “There is no difference between the first Adar and the second Adar, but the reading of the Megillah and the distribution of gifts to the poor.” (Megillah 6b)

Otherwise, both Purims are the same, with Purim Katan being first!

The theme of both is Jewish victory over enemies: “And it turned about: the Jews gained the upper hand over their adversaries.” (Esther 9:2). So much so, that: “Many from among the people of the land professed themselves as Jews.” (ibid 8:17). Others were overcome with the “fear of the Jews,” and deferred to them because “The fear of Mordechai had fallen upon them”. (ibid 9:3)

Purim Katan, too, carries this influence of evoking and eliciting the assistance and cooperation of the nations for the Jewish people.

In 5687 (1927), the previous Rebbe said the Maamar, “V’kibel Hayehudim” on Purim Katan, in the largest synagogue in the capital city of Russia, before a huge crowd. He didn’t consider the dangers, and exhibited superhuman self-sacrifice.

The Maamar discusses the reaffirmation of Kabollas HaTorah of the Jewish people, in the time of Mordechai. This came through the self-sacrifice of Mordechai for the Torah studies of the small children. Their Torah and self-sacrifice nullified the decree: “Out of the mouths of children and nursing babies You fashioned an invincible might… to end foe and avenger.” (Tehillim 8:3). Education of children is necessary for Jewish existence.

As you educate the child so he grows and develops and will teach his children, and they, their children, forever. The dedication to educating the young generation was the essence of the reaffirmation in Mordechai’s tiem, with an eternal force, so that “The remembrance shall not perish from their descendants” (ibid 9:28)

The “children and nursing babies” referred to in the Maamar are infants. The foundation given such young children, e.g., when their mothers sing to them lullabies about the greatness of Torah, sets the foundation for their upbringing and destroys the enemy.

The previous Rebbe stressed the importance of Jewish education and didn’t show fear of the enemy, emphasizing that the work for Jewish education would destroy the enemy. In fact, he explained, those who were foes would become allies and assist in the holy work. All of Torah would be reaffirmed in the broadest possible way.

Thus, the lesson of Purim Katan: If there arises “a foe and avenger” against Yiddishkeit, Torah and Mitzvos, not only must we not lose hope, but we must increase our activities in all areas of Yiddishkeit. Start with establishing the “invincible might” (through raising infants and babies to all aspects of Torah), which ends the foe. In fact, just a “Many from among the people of the land professed themselves Jews,” during the redemption of Purim, the foe is transformed, and assists in spreading Torah.

This leads to the ultimate redemption. First we reach the redemption of Purim, when Mordechai became great and the condition of the Jews improved. (Soon after the miracle of Purim, work on the Beis Hamikdash started again in the days of Darius.) Then we bring close the redemption of Purim and Pesach to the ultimate redemption.

May all these forces be utilized properly, to become a partner with HaShem, to reach the level of “Ad Lo Yoda”, beyond understanding and measure, which is the theme of Purim, but is even stronger on Purim Katan, because of its rarity.

May this all bring to action, from now into the future, from the redemption of Purim Katan to the true and ultimate redemption! (Sichah, Purim Katan, 5746)

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