Rosh Chodesh Adar II, the 13th month on the Jewish calendar, was due to start Thursday, March 10, at sundown. In leap years we have Adar I, the extra month, and Adar II, the regular one.
(Our eldest daughter was born Feb. 29, so this year she and her son are 7 years old.)
The elements are the same for Adar I and II. The Zodiac sign is Pisces; Hebrew letter, kuf; ruling planet, Jupiter; tribe, Naftali; sense, laughter; and controlling organ, spleen. In Adar II, some prayers are added and others omitted. Traditionally, the 12 tribes are assigned to the 12 months of the year; however, during Adar II, the story of Dinah, Leah and Jacob’s only daughter and youngest of their children, is highlighted.
The account is filled with mixed messages. In one version, Dinah ventures out to visit local Hivite women, suggesting her openness to intermingling with people of diverse beliefs and customs, and is defiled by Shechem, the Hivite prince. His story paints a passionate picture of falling in love with her, “taking her” as a wife without marrying her, and “lying with her.”
It’s stated that he speaks tenderly to her and wants to bind himself to her, negating any force or physical violence.
However, nowhere is Dinah’s perspective about what occurs recorded. It’s unknown whether there is mutual consent between Dinah and Shechem or whether there is simply lust and entitlement to “property” on his part, followed by Shechem’s father, Hamor, getting involved by speaking to Jacob.
Meanwhile, without Jacob’s consent, two of Dinah’s outraged brothers, Simeon and Levi, respond to Hamor’s request to let them intermarry with a contrived counterrequest. They say they could not let Dinah marry an uncircumcised man, but perhaps it will be possible if all the men of the village are circumcised.
Hamor complies, and all of the men in the village are circumcised. Three days later, while they are still in pain and physically compromised, Simeon and Levi attack and kill all the males of the village. Jacob tells his sons they have brought trouble by their actions, but they defend themselves, saying their sister should not have been defiled.
The modern-day messages of this story involve judgment — the meaning of Dinah’s name — being mindful of the consequences of one’s actions and making sound behavioral choices. As the brothers judge Shechem’s actions, they also are sensitive to the judgments and blame placed on their sister, as well as victims of similar crimes.
Jacob, initially quiet when informed about Dinah’s situation, negotiates her marriage to Shechem. Does he not protect the women of his family? Does he view Dinah as damaged goods, or, with no known protest from Dinah, does he recognize the impulsivity of youth and his daughter’s love for this man?
The answers are unknown, but the ancient story of force vs. mutual consent is as current as today’s headlines on college campuses.
Adar II, as in I, is a time to increase joy. Dressing up and drinking wine are not the only ways to achieve this. Tikkun olam offers joyful peace and purpose. Unlike the courageous Queen Esther, who in the Purim story reveals herself as a Jew, many women are still in the shadows, hiding themselves and experiencing shame and pain as victims of rape or domestic abuse.
I’m offering a call to action. Each year I donate a portion of the proceeds from my art to Shalom Bayit (A Peaceful Home) to assist women and children trying to make their journey to a better life. During Adar II, from March 10 to April 8, I’ll donate 50 percent of my sales at www.etsy.com/shop/KeytoEnchantment to Shalom Bayit.
Meditation focus: What can you do to increase joy by giving to someone who needs your help? Can you hold the vision of a healed world? A tiny hole, sewn closed, can prevent a huge, irreparable tear.