ישיבת כרם ביבנה

Adar in a Leap Year

הרב דוד קב

The Shulchan Aruch rules (O.C. 55:10) that if someone was born in Adar of a leap year and his bar-mitzvah year is regular, he celebrates his bar-mitzvah on whatever date of Adar he was born on. Thus, if one boy was born on the 29th of Adar I and another boy was born on the 1st of Adar II, the one who was born first has to wait until the 29th of Adar to be bar-mitzvah, while the one who was born second is bar-mitzvah already on the 1st of Adar. The Rama adds (based on Mahari Mintz) that in the reverse case, if someone was born in Adar of a regular year and his bar-mitzvah is in a leap year, he does not celebrate his bar-mitzvah until Adar II.

The implication of the Shulchan Aruch is that if both the birth and the bar-mitzvah are in leap years, then the one born first in Adar I would also celebrate his bar-mitzvah first in Adar I. The Magen Avraham (#10) challenges this point. Since we require thirteen FULL years to become bar-mitzvah, as the Rama writes to wait until Adar II, what is the difference whether he was born in a regular year or a leap year? After all, the boy turned twelve last Adar, and so a full year later is only in Adar II, since this year is thirteen months long? He therefore concludes that even if someone was born in Adar I, if his bar-mitzvah is in a leap year - he is must wait until Adar II. (He explains that the Shulchan Aruch only stipulated that the bar-mitzvah year is regular for the sake of simplicity, but the same law would apply even if the bar-mitzvah year was a leap year.) The Magen Avraham's position, however, is very difficult. His whole question is based on the Rama's quote of Mahari Mintz, but the Mahari Mintz explicitly writes that if someone is born in Adar I of a leap year and his thirteenth year is also in a leap year, he is bar-mitzvah already in Adar I! (See Machatzit Hashekel, ibid.) How are we to explain this dispute between the Magen Avraham and the other poskim?

Furthermore, the Mishna Berura (55:45) rules, based on the Knesset Hagedola and other poskim, that if someone was born on the 30th of Cheshvan, and in the bar-mitzvah year Cheshvan has only twenty-nine days, he does not becomes bar-mitzvah until the 1st of Kislev. The obvious rationale is that since his actual birthday does not exist in that year (and it is impossible to say that he should be bar-mitzvah earlier on the 29th of Cheshvan before the proper time arrives), he is delayed until the next day, the 1st of Kislev. We need to clarify, however, how this case differs from the previous case of someone born in a leap year. There, the Shulchan Aruch ruled that if he was born in Adar II, and the thirteenth year is regular, so that no Adar II exists, he becomes bar-mitzvah in Adar, and he is not delayed until Nisan! In other words, what is the difference between a leap year and a leap month?

In order to answer these questions, we first need to analyze a passage from Sanhedrin (12a):

The Rabbis taught: [Beit Din] does not [convene to] declare a leap year before Rosh Hashana, and if they did - it does not become a leap year. However, under extenuating circumstances, they can [convene to] declare a leap year immediately after Rosh Hashana. Nonetheless, only Adar is doubled.

Tosfot (s.v. ein meabrin) explains that the reason why the other months cannot be doubled is because if says (Esther 3:7), "In the twelfth month, the month of Adar." If we were to double a different month, Adar would no longer be the twelfth month, but rather the thirteenth! The implication of Tosfot is that if it were possible to double a different month, the entire count of the months would be delayed. For example, if they were to double Elul, the second Elul would be the seventh month of the year and Tishrei would be the eighth month. In such a hypothetical case, Rosh Hashana, Yom Kippur and Succot should all occur in the second Elul and not in Tishrei, since the Torah does not establish these holidays in "Tishrei," but rather in "the seventh month!" [The pasuk from Esther teaches us, however, that we must ensure that Adar be the twelfth month, and thus we can only double Adar which is at the conclusion of the year.]

However, from the Yad Ramah (s.v. tanu rabanan) it seems that even if we were to double Elul, the holidays would still be observed in Tishrei. He explains that the reason Beit Din does not convene to declare a leap year before Rosh Hashana is so that people should not erroneously think that Elul itself was doubled at that convention, while in fact it was not, leading them to desecrate Rosh Hashana and Succot, and to eat on Yom Kippur. Clearly, he is assuming that in the hypothetical case that Elul were to be doubled, the people would wait and celebrate the holidays in the delayed Tishrei, not in the seventh month (Elul II). Otherwise, they would not be led to violation regardless. This position seems difficult, though, since the Torah says, "in the seventh month," not "in Tishrei!"

It would seem from this that Tosfot and the Yad Ramah argue about the definition of a leap year. Tosfot assume that "ibur hashana" (declaring a leap year) means making the year bigger by adding a month, so that the year is thirteen months long. The Yad Ramah, however, would seen to hold that "ibur hashana" means lengthening the doubled month (thereby lengthening the year as well). Instead of a thirty day month, the doubled month is sixty days long. As such, even if we were to double Elul, this would not mean that Elul I is the sixth month, Elul II the seventh, and Tishrei the eighth. Rather, there is one Elul of sixty days, so that Tishrei would still be the seventh month. This interpretation of the Yad Ramah, however, is untenable, since he writes (in a related context, s.v. gufa), "We do not find a month more than thirty days, so how could you consider making a month of sixty days?"

Instead, the Yad Ramah must hold that when declaring a leap year, we neither add another month, nor lengthen the doubled month, but rather we repeat the doubled month. This repetition, however, is not considered a distinct, independent month. Thus, hypothetically, if we were to repeat Elul, both Elul I and Elul II would be defined as the sixth month. Tishrei would then be defined as the seventh month, so that Rosh Hashana, Yom Kippur and Succot would still occur in Tishrei.

What remains to be explained according to the Yad Ramah, is why it is only possible to repeat Adar. He cannot use Tosfot's source, since he argues and maintains that even if we were to repeat another month, Adar would still be the twelfth month, as we just explained. The Yad Ramah (ibid.) offers two other reasons. The first is a concern that often it is difficult to properly evaluate the need for a leap year until Adar, and so Chazal decreed ("gezerah"), for the sake of uniformity, only to double Adar. The second reason is based on a drasha in the Mechilta (Bo parsha 2): R. Natan says, "`Shamor et chodesh ha'aviv' (`Observe the month of spring'). The month adjacent to spring you double, and which is this? Adar."

What emerges is that there is a fundamental dispute between Tosfot and the Yad Ramah regarding the definition of a leap year. Tosfot maintains that in a leap year there are thirteen distinct months; Adar I is the twelfth month, and Adar II is the thirteenth month. The Yad Ramah, maintains, however, that Adar II is also considered the twelfth month.

According to the approach of the Yad Ramah, the difference between a leap year and a leap month is clearly understood. Whereas in a leap year we merely repeat the month of Adar (and both months are considered the twelfth month), in a leap month we add a thirtieth day to the month. Therefore, if someone is born in Adar II of a leap year and his thirteenth year is regular, the bar-mitzvah will still be in Adar. Although no Adar II exists then, since he was born in the twelfth month, he becomes bar-mitzvah in the twelfth month. However, in a leap month, if he is born on the 30th of Cheshvan, it is impossible to say that he should be bar-mitzvah on the 29th, since his time has not arrived yet, and the 30th of Cheshvan does not exist that year, so he must wait until the 1st of the next month.

However, we must still explain the logic of why we do not similarly say that in a leap month the 29th day repeats. The distinction would seem to be that in a leap year we decree the doubled month (either through Beit Din or through the calendar system). Hence it is more logical to say that we merely repeat an existing month, rather than to say that we have the ability to establish and add a new month to the year. On the other hand, a leap month is based on the appearance of the moon, and if we do not see the new moon, by default the month extends to be thirty days.

Based on this we can return to explain the positions of the Shulchan Aruch and the Magen Avraham. The Rama and the Shulchan Aruch follow the Yad Ramah, that both Adar I and Adar II are considered the twelfth month, so that either can represent the completion of the year. According to this logic, however, we would expect that if someone was born in Adar of a regular year and the thirteenth year is a leap year, he should be bar-mitzvah already in Adar I, since it is also considered the twelfth month! Why, then does the Rama rule (based on Mahari Mintz) that he is bar-mitzvah only in Adar II?

Apparently, the Rama maintains that, in general, Adar II is the primary Adar since it is the one adjacent to Nisan, just as we find in regards to reading the megilla. (cf. Megilla 6b) However, for someone who was born in Adar I of a leap year we are not concerned with the Adar adjacent to Nisan. For him, Adar I is the primary Adar, just as his birth was in Adar I. The Magen Avraham, however, follows Tosfot that "ibur hashana" means increasing the year by adding a month, so that the bar-mitzvah year is thirteen months long. Therefore he asked that we should require the passage of a full year of thirteen months since the twelfth year.

Regarding a yahrzeit, however, Mahari Mintz rules that if a person died in a regular year, the yahrzeit is observed in Adar I of a leap year. This seems contradictory; how come regarding a yahrzeit we follow Adar I, whereas regarding a bar-mitzvah we follow Adar II? Perhaps the reason is that regarding a yahrzeit we apply the principle of "ain ma'avirin al hamitzvot" - we do not pass over the opportunity to fulfill mitzvot - and therefore we observe the yahrzeit in the first Adar. However, regarding a bar-mitzvah, since objectively Adar II is the primary Adar, he is not yet obligated in mitzvot, and thus the principle of "ain ma'avirin al hamitzvot" does not apply. (This answer was given by my son, R. Eliyahu.)

 

 

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