The Month of Adar and The Purim Miracle
We are now in the Jewish month of Adar. This is the month in which the Purim miracle happened over two thousand years ago.
The month of Adar is symbolized by fish. According to tradition, fish have a special quality as they are very fertile; producing hundreds (some species even produce thousands) of fish. This was the blessing Yaakov Avinu conferred to Yoseph’s children, Ephraim and Menashe; ‘and let them grow into a multitude in the midst of the earth.` The Hebrew term Va’yidgu, and they will grow, which Yaakov used has the root, Dag, fish. Just as fish multiply in great numbers, so too Yaakov blessed his descendants with an enormous growth potential. Also fish live in the water shielded from the eyes of humans and animals, and are therefore not influenced by the ayin horah, evil eye. They are also known to stay exclusively with their own species and while all creatures became corrupt during the time of the Mabul, the Great Flood in the time of Noah, as it states ‘And God saw the earth, and, behold, it was corrupt; for all flesh had corrupted their way upon the earth.’ The fish did not corrupt themselves and were thus saved from the annihilation that the Flood brought upon the Earth.
The Jewish people are compared to fish. Just as fish live in the sea, the Jewish people live in the Torah which is compared to water. Just as fish multiply so also the Torah was multiplied double in this month because Moshe Rabbeinu who taught us the Torah was born in this month and the Jews resolved to re-accept the Torah in the time of Mordechai and Esther as the verse in the Book of Esther (9:27) states: ‘The Jews established and accepted upon themselves, and upon their descendants…never to be abolished.’ The Rabbis teach that ‘The Jews established and accepted upon themselves’ refers to a new acceptance to strengthen Torah study and observance as a result of the great miracle of Purim, which they now accepted out of love for Hashem’s demonstration of grace towards them by thwarting Haman’s evil plans and decrees.
It is important to note that the salvation and success of the Purim miracle came about through the descendants of the children of Rochel Imeinu, Yosef [represented by Ephraim and Menashe] and Binyamin go under one banner (in the dessert each tribe had it own flag and every three tribes traveled under one banner) and are considered equals. Mordechai and Esther were descendants of Binyamin and therefore the salvation came about through them as they were included in Yaakov’s blessings that compared them to fish.
The symbolism of fish goes further, as mentioned earlier, fish thrive in water and the Jews thrive in a Torah environment, so when the study and observance is at an all time high, the nations of the world cannot touch the Jewish people.
The Talmud (Tractate Berachos 61b) relates: Once the wicked Government issued a decree forbidding the Jews to study and practice the Torah. Pappus b. Judah came and found R. Akiba publicly bringing gatherings together and occupying himself with the Torah. He said to him: Akiba, are you not afraid of the Government? He replied: I will explain to you with a parable. A fox was once walking alongside a river, and he saw fishes going in swarms from one place to another. He said to them: From what are you fleeing? They replied: From the nets cast for us by men. He said to them: Would you like to come up on to the dry land so that you and I can live together in the way that my ancestors lived with your ancestors? They replied: Art thou the one that they call the cleverest of animals? Thou art not clever but foolish. If we are afraid in the element in which we live, how much more in the element in which we would die! So it is with us. If such is our condition when we sit and study the Torah, of which it is written, for that is thy life and the length of thy days, if we go and neglect it how much worse off we shall be!
At the time of the Purim miracle the Jews (had loosened their observance) had become weak in Torah and they could not stand up to the test and partook of Achashverosh’s feast. This lapse caused the descendant of Amelaek, the wicked Haman, to gain power and nearly spelled annihilation for the Jewish people. Only Mordechai and Esther were strong enough to defy Haman and eventually they were able to influence the people to a complete and solid return to Torah. Once the people fortified themselves with Torah, Hashem, in His mercy immediately foiled the plans of the enemy and the fortune of Israel took a turn for the better and reached its apex.
[Based on Sefer HaTodaah, Rabbi Eliyahu Kitov]