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Purim is coming! Purim is coming!  

03/07/2017 04:32:56 PM


March 7, 2017
by Rabbi Jessica Graf

Purim is coming! Purim is coming! But there is another day of commemoration on the Jewish calendar this week.  (There are two others, actually, if you count Taanit Esther—a minor fast day just before Purim, named for our heroine.)  This past Sunday was Zayin Adar—the 7th of the month of Adar. It is an important day in the history of our people—it was both the yartzheit and the birthday of Moses.

Each year on Zayin Adar, our chevra kaddisha—our burial society—marks the day with a brunch and a lecture on the life of Moses.  This year, I was privileged to give the keynote address at Sinai Memorial’s Zayin Adar Brunch.  Here are excerpts from my talk…

“Birth is a beginning.  And death a destination.  And life a journey, everlasting.”  These beautiful words come from the poem written by Rabbi Alvin Fine.  For most people, birth is a beginning—which takes place on one date—and death, a destination reached on a different date.  Not so for our great teacher, Moses.  Zayin Adar—the 7th of Adar —was both his date of birth and death—an unusual coincidence.

Moses was our teacher in so many ways.  His journey is one we are privileged to witness, as we read the cycle of Torah.  We are privy to some of his struggles—with his anger and impulsiveness as a young man; with what it means to be called; with his own leadership ability. Moses remains human throughout, always questioning his role, his power and his purpose.  Perhaps because of his humanity, he does his job with integrity.

Moses probably would not have chosen many things about his life—starting with his twist of fate as an infant.  We know he would not have chosen his “profession”—he tried repeatedly to decline God’s job offer.  He, no doubt, would have opted to retire—learning to play golf on one of those desert courses, rather than continue to manage a big operation into his 13th decade. Despite the stresses of his life—and the challenges he encountered, Moses lived 120 years—EXACTLY.

120 perfect circles of life. The beginning and the end become indistinguishable.  The exuberance and feistiness of his youth blend into the maturity, wisdom and wholeness that make up the unending circle of his life.  SHLEMUT—shin, lamed, mem——SHALEM, SHALOM…  It means completion and the peace that comes from wholeness.  It is all of the stages of life—integrated.

Perhaps Zayin Adar should be remembered not because it is an important yarzheit—or a birthday.  But because it represents all of the life moments that Moses experienced on his journey.

May the journey of our great teacher—from 7 Adar to 7 Adar—always be an inspiration to us.

Sat, March 17 2018 1 Nisan 5778