February 2016

There is an interesting Jewish calendar event happening February 23rd: Purim Katan or “little Purim.” It’s not the real Purim we know about, but a way of acknowledging the date that Purim falls in the month of Adar. While Purim Katan is not an actual festival day, it does have some special observances that are worth noting. First, some background information.

Purim always falls in the Hebrew month of Adar, the last month of the Jewish calendar. Normally, Adar falls during the secular calendar months of March or February. It is the only month designated as Adar I or Adar II, depending on the nineteen-year lunar cycle. In other words, it is the equivalent of a “leap month.” The secular calendar has a leap day every four years. Coincidentally, 2016 is a leap year; there are twenty-nine days in February. This year we have two months of Adar.

The rabbinic sages designated that during years with a leap month, Purim would fall in the second Adar. This happens roughly every three years. According to the Book of Esther, Purim occurs on the 14th of Adar while Shushan Purim is on the 15th. The Rabbis established that in the first Adar, the 14th and 15th would take on a hint of the festiveness of Purim. On Purim many mourning practices are suspended, the same for Purim Katan. So, no eulogies during funerals are delivered or reciting prayers of supplication or Tachnun during shacharit. When given the permission to not say Tachnun, I will happily comply to shorten my morning prayers.

Aside from the omission of Tachnun and eulogies, there are no other special observances for Purim Katan. I do suggest you eat some Hamentashen on the 14th and 15th of Adar I to get ready for the real Purim in Adar II. You can even start thinking about what you will dress up as for TBS’s festive Purim parade and costume contest. I’m thinking of going as something from “a galaxy far, far away… .” I take this idea of doing something special from The Code of Jewish Law that states that “one should increase in festivity and joy… for ‘One who is of good heart is festive always’ ” (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 697:1). Even a “Katan–little bit” of Purim is worth celebrating.

Until then, I wish you all an enjoyable February and Adar I.

Rabbi, Dr. Larry Bazer