Mazel Tov and Good Luck
Do Jews believe in luck? On the one hand, the Prophet Jeremiah teaches: Do not be afraid of the signs of the heavens or the insight of astrology, as the Talmud teaches: “Ain Mazal BeYisroel – luck does not affect the people of Israel.”
Yet the Sages discuss the zodiac sign of each month and teach that they do indeed relate to our lives. Based on this astrological energy, our Sages teach that during some months we should be happier and during others, we should minimize our joy. Do we Jews believe in luck or not?
Like most questions in Judaism, here too there is more than one way to answer the question. One answer might be that luck does exist, but prayer combined with hard work can overcome luck or natural expectations. With this in mind, let’s look at the upcoming Jewish lunar month of Adar and see what lessons we can derive.
In the Purim story, Haman cast lots to determine which month was most suited for the genocide of the Jews. Our sages tell us that when the lot fell on the month of Adar, Haman rejoiced. For every other month on the Jewish calendar had some type of joyous occasion for the Jews, but Adar had nothing. All he saw was that Moses passed away on the seventh day of this month. Haman was so sure that this date would cause misfortune for the Jewish people that he made Adar the deadline for his deadly decree.
However, what Haman didn’t know is that Moses was also born on the seventh of Adar, which made the month an auspicious one for the Jewish people, not only during the events of Purim but also today.
Of course everyone’s birthday is a special day because, as it explains in the Kabbalah, on our birthdays the stars are lined up just as when we were born and new energy and blessings is allowed to be poured into our lives. Being that Moses was the greatest Jewish leader of all time and was connected to each and every Jewish person, his birthday brought not only personal energy, but energy and blessing for all of Israel. This is why the mazal of the Jewish people is strongest in Adar.
Adar is the official “happy month” of the year, as it is written in the Code of Jewish Law, “When Adar begins, increase in joy.” But this year, things are even better. You see, a month on the Jewish calendar includes either 29 or 30 days (reflecting the 29.5-day lunar cycle). But every two or three years – seven times in a 19-year cycle – an extra month is added to even out the lunar and solar year and to ensure that Passover will continue to fall in the spring. This coming year is such a leap year. So this year we have not only 30 days of joy, but a full 60 days of good luck and Divine energy and blessing.
The Hebrew word Adar comes from the word “Adir” which means mighty or glorious. The Sages find further proof that the Jewish people are beyond the scope of mazal or luck from the fact that Adar is spelled with the 3 Hebrew letters, alef, dalet, and reish.
The alef represents the power of G-d, which may seem to be separate from everyday existence. The dalet and reish form the word “dar”, which means “to dwell”. The lesson of this is that during this month, the alef, or G-d’s unlimited power, dwells openly and is totally accessible for the nation of Israel.
The Sages also teach that Adar is the month of transformation. Adar presents us with the ability to transform sadness into joy. Adar transforms a “scattered people” into a unified nation, and a period of national danger into a time of national celebration.
So while just 2 days are observed as the holiday of Purim and Shushan Purim, the entire month is considered a time of great power and joy for the Jewish nation. Each Adar, we’re offered that opportunity to transform anything negative in our lives into blessing and joy.
This year we have two months of Adar, (February 1-March 31) to make this spiritual transformation of blessing and joy into our lives.
I wish each of you a “Happy Adar” and may we all be blessed with an abundance of “mazel tov” (good luck) and much Divine Blessing!
Shabbat candles should be lit Fridays, January 24 at 5:38 p.m., January 31 at 5:45 p.m., February 7 at 5:53 p.m., February 14 at 6:01 p.m. and February 21 at 6:09 p.m.
Editor’s note: Rabbi Avrohom Litvin, regional director of Chabad of Kentucky, has volunteered to provide Torah commentaries for Community.