Rosh Chodesh Kavanot Adar II
When recite God’s Name in the Blessing of, “Who sanctifies Israel and the New Months,” on Rosh Chodesh Adar II, we combine the Kavanot of all the Twelve Months.
I have selected one Kavanah from each month:
“Yismichu Hashamayim V’tagail ha’aretz,” “The heavens will be glad and the earth shall rejoice.” (Psalms 96:11, Chronicles I 16:31)
Purim as a Time of Redemption:
The heavens refers to the angels who are already are filled with gladness over their closeness to God. “The earth shall rejoice,” refers to physical beings that cannot maintain the consistent joy and closeness of the angels. They are like a bell ringing on and off. We pray that our souls should be able to achieve the consistent gladness of the angels, and that our physical existence, which usually fluctuates, should be able to achieve a constant state of rejoicing.
God paid careful attention to both our physical and spiritual existence during the exodus. The Children of Israel experienced such constant and consistent attention to their physical needs that they experienced and equally consistent and constant state of joy, allowing them to rise each day to a higher level of sanctity.
We pray that we can use the Divine Influence of this month of redemption to achieve an awareness of God’s constant care and concern so that we too, can experience constant joy even in our physical lives.
“Thus said God, “Let not the wise man glorify himself with his wisdom, and let not the strong man glorify himself with his strength, let not the rich man glorify himself with his wealth. For only with this may one glorify himself – contemplating and knowing Me – Yithallel Hamithallel Haskel V’yado’a – Y-H-H-V – for I am God, Who does kindness, justice and righteousness in the land, for in these is My desire,” – the word of God.” (Jeremiah 9:22-23)
Purim as a Time of Gifts From God to Us & From Us to Each Other:
We focus on our gifts of Wisdom, strength and wealth during this month, recognizing that they are gifts from God. We have extra Kavana – awareness – when reciting blessings over food, “wealth,” blessings over Torah, “Wisdom,” and the morning blessings, “Hanotain laya’ef koach,” Who Gives Strength to the Weary, “Strength.” We make special acknowledgments of these gifts during this month, by giving more to charity, and by celebrating new wisdom and insights and successful use of our strengths with action, such as using our “Thank You Machines.”
”You shall make forty silver sockets under the twenty planks; two sockets under one plank for its two tenons, and two sockets under the next plank for its two Tenons. For the second wall of the Tabernacle on the north side – twenty planks.” (Exodus 26:19-20) “Yidotav. U’litzela Hamishkan Hasheinit.”
Purim as a Time of Connection and Receiving the Torah:
The first thing we notice about the Torah text the Ari Hakodesh used to derive the Divine Appelation for Sivan is that it begins with the final word of one verse and connects with the first three words of the following verse. This a a Name of connection: Two verse are connected, just as the planks described in the verses were connected one to the other. Sivan is a month of connections. God connects with us through Revelation, experienced by us through His Torah. We connect with God, as they did at Sinai, by responding to Torah as the Book of Covenant, not Robert’s Rules of Order, but a Book of Relationship.
Just as Torah connects us with God, so too, it connect to all of life, and nurtures our connection to life. Torah adds meaning to every aspect of existence.
When we recite God’s Name in the Mussaf blessing, we must have in mind to access the Divine Influence of Connection: Revelation, Covenant, Torah, and all of life. We pray here for the gift of being able to experience Revelation through Torah, to use the Torah to strengthen our connection with God, and to be able to apply the Torah’s wisdom to every part of our lives.
“Yet all this is worth nothing to me so long as I see Mordechai the Jew sitting at the king’s gate.” (Esther 5:13) – “Zeh eineno shaveh li.” – H-Y-H-Y
This verse teaches us that all the treasures of that wicked man were inscribed on his heart, and when he saw Mordechai sitting at the king’s gate, he (pointed as his heart and) said, “This is worth nothing to me.” (Megillah 15b) The word “Zeh,” always indicates pointing to something specific and defined.
Purim as a Time of Paying Attention
The people who lived through the destruction of the First Temple, heard many warnings, specific – Zeh warnings from the prophets, but chose to ignore them. Are we paying attention?
We pray on Rosh Chodesh for the ability to understand God’s messages with the clarity of Zeh.
”Moses and the Cohanim, the Levites, spoke to all Israel, saying, Be Attentive and Hear O Israel.” (Deuteronomy 27:9)
Purim as Repair for Mordechai and Esther Not Hearing God’s Messages:
The Ibn Ezra explains that there are two steps, “be attentive”, and “hear”. He applies the steps of this verse to Shema: One must be attentive to what one hears in Shema.
How does this reflect God’s attributes? How do we use this to concentrate on God’s Name in our Rosh Chodesh prayer?
God speaks to us in layers. We must listen, as the people of Israel did not to the warning of the prophets before the destruction of Jerusalem. We must listen to and hear the messages God sends, even during a month of tragedy; the month of Av.
Once we listen and hear, we must learn to pay attention to what we hear and apply the lessons we learn.
God’s layered speech is a gift, especially during a time when we experience God as distant. This Name empowers us to discover the layers of God’s messages
“And it will be a Tzedaka for us if we are careful to perform this entire commandment before God, our Lord, as He commanded us.” (Deuteronomy 6:25)
Purim as a Time To Develop Our Sixth Sense
This verse is the conclusion and summary of the famous question of the Wise Son on the Seder night. Although most believe that his question is about the Seder and Passover, in truth, he is asking about one of the fundamental Mitzvot/Concepts in the Bible: “You shall do that which is just and good in the eyes of God.” Nachmanides explains that the purpose of all the Mitzvot/Concepts is to train us to be able to naturally respond to life situations in a manner that is good and just in God’s eyes. The Mitzvot/Concepts are tools to help us nurture this sense to be applied in the countless situations we face each day. The verse teaches us that God considers it an act of Tzedaka when we use His Mitzvot/Commandments to develop this extra sense
“When Pharaoh’s officials saw her, they praised her to Pharaoh.”
The context is: “There was a famine in the land, so Abram went down to Egypt to stay for a while because the famine was severe. As he approached Egypt, he said to his wife Sarai, “Look, I know that you are a beautiful woman. When the Egyptians see you they will say, ‘This is his wife.’ Then they will kill me but will keep you alive. So tell them you are my sister so that it may go well for me because of you and my life will be spared on account of you.” When Abram entered Egypt, the Egyptians saw that the woman was very beautiful. When Pharaoh’s officials saw her, they praised her to Pharaoh. So Abram’s wife was taken into the household of Pharaoh. (Genesis 12:10-15)
“The officers of Pharaoh and they praised her” – Sarei Pharaoh, Vayihallilu Ota – the final letter of each word spells – Y H V H – The Divine Name. (Peirush HaTorah L’Baalei Tosafot)
Purim As A Statement of God’s Direct Involvement
God was intimately involved in all that was happening when Abraham went down to Egypt, even as Abraham made his own decisions. God responded to those choices and guided all that took place.
There is a special connection between God and Israel on Rosh Hashana, which is expressed in His direct involvement in our lives, as He guides us. We are not simply asking for a year of life: We ask God for another year of life in which He is directly involved with us every second of the year. God does not simply write down in a book of life that we have been granted another year of life. He makes a commitment to be involved with us every moment of that year.
We stand in judgment as God expresses His awareness and care for everything we do, say and think. He is more involved with us on Rosh Hashana than any other time. We use these intense moments of connection to pray that He remain as involved throughout the coming year.
“As You swore to our forefathers, a Land flowing with milk and Honey. This day, Hashem – U’divash, Hayom Hazeh Hashem.” (Deuteronomy 26:15-16)
Purim as A Conversation Between Our Actions and God
It is interesting to note that this Appellation is derived from the end of one verse, in which we are speaking, and the beginning of the next, in which God or Moses is speaking. This Appellation describes God in conversation, and responding to us.
We Did Our Part, Now Do Yours!
Rashi comments: We have done what You decreed on us, now You must do as is incumbent upon You, as You promised, “If you will follow My decrees…then I will provide your rains in their time.” (Leviticus 26:3) just as You fulfilled Your oath to our ancestors and gave us a Land flowing with milk and honey. “God responds: “The words of Torah must be as fresh to us as if they were just given today – Hayom.”
“When the Canaanite inhabitants of the land saw the mourning in Goren HaAtad, they said, ‘This is a grievous mourning for Egypt.’” (Genesis 50:11) Vayar Yosheiv Haaretz Hakenaani –VYHH.
Purim as a Time of Stability & Eternal Possibility
The Zohar (Volume 1 250b) explains that this verse describes a person’s reactions to witnessing the limitations of those perceived to have great power. Although many will rejoice upon witnessing the weakness of a foe, our stability is threatened when the powers that preserve stability show their limitations. The Canaanite nations witnessed Egypt’s, the world’s stabilizing superpower, weakness and understood that nothing would ever be the same.
Egypt’s point of vulnerability was their dependence on Jacob and his merit. What began as a family seeking food and safe haven became a family serving as a source of blessing for Egypt and the nations under its influence.
When the Chashmonaim battled the Syrian-Greek armies, and even managed to win a few battles, they proved the Greek’s vulnerabilities. The Chashmonaim shook the political and military foundations of their world. Even the Greek’s enemies were concerned for the future now that the superpower had shown its weaknesses.
The Sages’ reaction was to create something eternal; Chanukah, a festival that will last forever. Other nations felt vulnerable. The Sages experienced possibility.
On Purim we celebrate that God gave us the Oral Law that provides stability even in a world that seems to have lost its bearings. We pray in Rosh Chodesh for the ability to access the wisdom of the Oral Law so that we can find stability and even possibility, despite external circumstances.
“Declare the greatness of God with me, and let us exalt His Name together.” (Psalms 43:4)
Purim as a Time of Seeing Hidden Miracles
The Talmud teaches that we should never rely on a miracle. (Ta’anit 20b) A person must accept responsibility to act with an absolute trust that God, Who will be, “With me,” and will bless and empower our efforts, will join his efforts. (Ketav Sofer)
This flows directly from the strength of Chanukah, when the Chashmonaim chose to act without relying on miracles. Their choice stirred the heavens and God empowered their victories and success. We pray on Rosh Chodesh that we should have the clarity to define how much effort is necessary, the courage to act, and that God will join with us and empower our actions.
“He shall not distinguish between good and bad and he should not substitute for it; and if he does substitute for it, then it and its substitute shall be holy.” – Vihay Hu Utemurato Yiheye.” (Leviticus 27:33)
Rashi, based on the Talmud (Bechorot 14a) explains: Even if the tenth animal is bad, in that it has a blemish that disqualifies it from use as an offering, it is Ma’aser nonetheless. It may be used only for food but not for work or shearing.
Purim as a Time of Transformation
The Imrei Tzaddikim quotes the Maggid of Mezeritch as explaining that, “Vahaya,” is a term that is used to express joy. When a person succeeds in making both the holy and its substitute – the mundane – holy, even that which goes against holiness, the person himself will become holy and will rejoice in his holiness.
We focus on the Name of God that is hidden within this verse with a prayer that, this spring, we will merit to transform every aspect of our physical lives into eternal spiritual existence, and that we will merit to experience the eternal joy that is so potent in spiritual existence.
“he will tie his donkey to the vine; to the vine branch his donkey’s foal.” (Genesis 49:11)
“V’lasoreikah b’ni atono,” “To the vine branch his donkey’s foal.”
I. Or Hachaim Hakadosh
The verse is speaking of the arrival of the Messiah who will tie his donkey to the vine, i.e. Israel, which is compared to the vine in Psalms 80:9: “You plucked up a vine from Egypt, You expelled nations and planted it.” The donkey in this verse refers to the other nations.
The “Soreika” is an especially long vine, as the branch to which the Messiah will tie his donkey. Jacob makes a distinction between the male and female souls that originate in the domain of Klipah – Shells. When speaking of Israel as a whole, he describes the Messiah as tying the male, other nations, to the whole vine, whereas when speaking of the females of the other nations, he speaks of tying them to a single branch of the vine. Our part of the verse speaks of the females, being tied, or connected with the root souls of Israel.
Purim, which occurs in the month of Adar, was a major stage in redemption, Oral Law, and in preparing Israel for the long exile ahead. This month is our opportunity to reconnect to that Shefa – Divine Influence – of Redemption. We pray on Rosh Chodesh to experience and receive that Influence so we may experience Redemption on a personal and national level.
The Purim miracle was brought about by a woman, the subject of this phrase of the verse. Esther was a Tikkun – a fixing of the sin of Chava. This month is a propitious time to repair relationships between men and women and for people to pray to find their proper soul mate.
II. Ibn Ezra
The Ibn Ezra explains that the vintage will be so abundant the one will bind his donkey to a vine, unconcerned whether it eats the grapes.
The Shefa of this month is abundant, and we pray on Rosh Chodesh to be vessels that can receive, and act with all the Shefa that is available.
General Principles of Rosh Chodesh Kavanot
as prepared by Moshe Tuviah El-Ad
The letters of any 4 letter word, in this case: G-d’s name of Rachameem/Mercy Y-H-V-H, can be permuted, meaning “scrambled” 12 different ways:
The Kabbalists teach us to meditate on verses whose words’ first or last letters match the permutation for the given month. Which permutation is for which month is a secret handed down by the masters of Sode, the secrets of the Torah and the 4th portion of PaRDeS
Pshat – the ‘plain’ meaning of the text, e.g. chumash, Rashi, mishneh, gemara
Remez – hints such as those in the commentary of the Ba’al HaTurim
Derush – exposition such as that in the commentaries of the Alshich and
Sode – Kabbalah, for example, teachings from the Zohar, Sefer Yetzirah, the commentaries of the Ramban or the Ohr HaChaim)
The greater one’s knowledge, the more depth to one’s understanding of the verse selected, the order of the letters of HaShem’s name in the given month’s permutation and their relationship to the fundamental forces of Creation imbued and embedded in the month to come (which is a specific time of the year, just like a Moed like Sukkot or Pesach in a way, although not a holy day) can be a powerful, added source to one’s kavanah while praying – which can be very handy – especially at the beginning of a new month.
In the middle blessing of the additional Rosh Chodesh Musaf prayer where you see G-d’s name Y-H-V-H ‘Blessed are You *Y-H-V-H* Our L-rd King of the Universe Who Sanctifies Israel and the Heads of the Months’:
A) Don’t say the name Y-H-V-H or its permutation; we still pronounce the name A-donai.
B) The mystical practice is to meditate on:
a) the corresponding permutation of the month
b) the meanings associated with the letters in that order
c) the meanings of the verse associated with the month’s permutation
One can find information on these permutations in various texts of Chasidic masters, most notably Rav Tzadok HaCohen of Lublin’s Pri Tzadik and the Noam Elimelech.
These entires by Rav Simcha are priceless additions to the available literature/instructions on how to utilize the permutations to invoke the powers/potentials of the month on its Rosh Chodesh. (For which I am eternally grateful.) They are unique in focusing on the verses of the permutations to a high degree as well as for being in plain English – literally!
The full list of permutations can usually be found in Hebrew only Sefardic prayerbooks either right before the Musaf Rosh Chodesh prayer – or – underneath the blessing in the appropriate place in the middle of the prayer.
On Rosh Hashanah – which is also Rosh Chodesh Tishrei – Rav Simcha first taught me to meditate on the permutation in the blessing of Malchiyut. This year (5770) Rebbe taught to meditate on the permutation while saying each of the three Rosh HaShanah core blessings: Malchiyut, Zichronot and Shofarot.
Interestingly, everyday we say the verse for Rosh Chodesh Nissan in the prayer Y’hee K’vod right before Ashrei. To me, this is a daily infusion of a bit of Springtime and renewal (as Nissan is the month of Pesach).
May we blessed and safeguarded to utilize this knowledge to draw down G-d’s Light for the ultimate benefit of ourselves and all Creation.