The end of Adar, beginning on the 15th day of Adar, in days past was dedicated to public projects. There were two categories of work being done. The first was a repairing of the roads, opening of public water-spigots and making sure the way for Pesach Aliyah was ready for the Jews in a physical sense. You see, in those days, every Jew made his way to Jerusalem for three holidays, and Pesach was upcoming. To ensure safe travel, the community leaders would make sure the way was paved (literally and figuratively).There is the famous story of Nechunya who lived in the times of Rabbi Chanina ben Dosa. Every year, at this time of year, he would dig huge wells so the people traveling along the way to Yerushalayim should have enough water to drink. One year, his granddaughter fell into the deep well and rescue seemed hopeless due to its vast depth. The worried townsfolk who were trying to save the girl ran to Rabbi Chanina ben Dosa, asking for divine intervention through his prayer.
However, Rav Chanina didn’t even bother praying for her. He merely said, “she’s fine.” An hour passed and the girl was nowhere near fine. She was still at the bottom of the pit and no ladder could reach her. The folks went to Rav Chanina again, who, again succinctly said, “She’s fine.” After another hour, by which time naturally the girl should have been drowned, they went again to Rabbi Chanina, who again seemed unconcerned and said, “it’s okay, she’s out.” They ran to the well and found the girl sitting by the side of the well as if nothing had happened. They asked her how she got out and she told them Father Abraham had carried her out. Puzzled, they returned to Rabbi Chanina to find out how he had been certain she would be okay and why he wasn’t concerned about her danger. Replied Rav Chanina, “since her grandfather had dug those wells for altruistic reasons for the benefit of the public, there was no way any harm would come to his granddaughter through those wells.”.
In fact, in synagogue we say a special prayer for those who do public work – we pray they be safe from all harms and that they be rewarded for their work. So those who pay for the electric bills of the Shul, or put out tissue boxes for your use, or those who collect for the poor of the neighborhood and give out food to those who don’t have, etc – these people get an extra blessing and prayer. It is important we try to find ways to contribute to “tzarchei Tzibbur” to take care of the community in different ways –and this time of the year is the perfect time to do it. Here is how you can become a partner in Belz’s public works: Click Here
Then there were the spiritual public projects in the times past that got done at the end of Adar. This was to make sure spiritually everyone was ready for the Pesach Aliyah to Yeurshalayim. The Bais Din [Jewish courts] would take care of things that had been waiting because of travel – – judgments that a local court could not take care of, would now be brought to Yerushalayim for the final judgment to make sure these sentences or court cases could be dealt with. So, for example if there was a murderer on death row, now the Bais Din of Yerushalayim would deal with the issue so that there was no murder left unaccounted for by the time Pesach came around. [just as an aside – yes, the Jews had a death penalty and death row – but very different than the outside world
S version of it – for example, in the USA they can put people to death with circumstantial evidence or by hearsay (I saw him covered in blood and the dead body near him so he must be guilty or by some other criminal saying I saw him kill) In Jewish courts, there has to have been warning and two KOSHER (meaning two reliable, honest people) who saw the actual crime committed.]
On the 25th of Adar was the forced collection of those who hadn’t yet paid up their Machtzis HaShekel – their half token mandatory to be donated for use in the Temple. Every person had to contribute this half shekel every year. And if they hadn’t given it voluntarily by the 25th, the Shekel collectors went knocking on their door and collected the half shekel. Did you give your Half Shekel yet? You can donate here: