ADAR (Heb. אֲדָר), the post-Exilic name (of Assyrian origin) of the 12th month in the Jewish year. Occurring in Assyrian inscriptions and also in Hebrew and Aramaic biblical records (Esth. 3:7 with seven parallels; Ezra 6:15), it is held to be identical with the first element in the compound proper name *Adrammelech of a patricidal son of *Sennacherib (II Kings 19:37; Isa. 37:38) and of the Molech-like idol worshiped by the Sepharvite ancestors of the Samaritans (II Kings 17:31). The zodiacal sign of this month is Pisces. In some years an extra month is added to the year (see *Calendar) which is called Adar Sheni ("Second Adar" or ve-Adar – so vocalized against a firm rule in Hebrew vocalization). In such years the original month is called Adar Rishon ("First Adar"). The addition of a second Adar raises problems with regard to the celebration of *bar mitzvah and the observance of *Yahrzeit and the recitation of *Kaddish. The law is as follows: A boy born in Adar of a regular year but whose 13th year is a leap year celebrates his bar mitzvah in Adar II (Sh. Ar., OḤ 55:10). For a person deceased in Adar of a regular year, the Yahrzeit in a leap year is observed in Adar I; there are, however, conflicting opinions in this and it is suggested that Kaddish be recited also in Adar II (ibid. 568:7). In the present fixed Jewish calendar, the month consists of 29 days in regular years while in leap years Adar I consists of 30 days and Adar II of 29 days. The first day of Adar (of Adar II in a leap year) never falls on Sunday, Tuesday, or Thursday. In the 20th century Adar in its earliest occurrence extends from February 12 to March 11 or 12 and in its latest from March 2 to 30 while the 59 days of Adar I with Adar II extend from February 2 to March 31 or April 1 at the earliest and from February 11 to April 9 or 10 at the latest.
Memorable days in Adar (Adar II in leap years) comprise: (a) The Four Special Sabbaths (Shekalim may be read on the Sabbath before Adar I and ha-Ḥodesh on Nisan 1, but invariably Sabbaths Zakhor and Parah fall in Adar). (b) The seventh of Adar, the anniversary of the death of Moses as calculated from Deuteronomy 34:8 and Joshua 1:11; 3:2; and 4:19, observed as a fast (Meg. Ta'an. 13, ed. Neubauer). According to tradition Adar 7 was also the date of Moses' birth (see *Adar, the Seventh of). (c, d) Adar 9 and 24 once observed as fasts (ibid.) commemorating the fateful controversies between the Schools of Shammai and Hillel (Shab. 17a) and the leprosy which befell King Uzziah (II Kings 15:5; II Chron. 26:19–21). (e) Nicanor Day on Adar 13 at first observed as a feast commemorating the Hasmonean victory over the Syrian general Nicanor (I Macc. 7:49; II Macc. 15:36; Meg. Ta'an. 12) and subsequently observed as the Fast of *Esther preliminary to Purim (Piskei ha-Rosh, Meg. 1:1). (f, g) *Purim and Shushan Purim on Adar 14–15. (h) The 16th of Adar was not to be a day of mourning for on that day they commenced to build the walls of Jerusalem (Meg. Ta'an. 12); by order of Nehemiah or perhaps under the Maccabees. (i) The 17th was a feast commemorating the miraculous escape of the Sages of Israel from their Herodian or Roman enemies. (j) The 20th was a feast day because on that day Onias (*Ḥoni ha-Me'aggel) effected deliverance from a drought (ibid.). These invest the whole month with a joyful character, hence the talmudic ruling "When Adar comes in, gladness is increased" (Ta'an. 29a).
[Ephraim Jehudah Wiesenberg]
Source: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2008 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.