This article was first published in The Times of Israel.
Have you ever heard of 9 Adar? Even Jews who observe every single holiday, fast day and day of remembrance on the Hebrew calendar have probably never heard of this Jewish fast day.
Although we can find mention of 9 Adar as a fast day in almost every rabbinic book, no Jew who has lived during the last 2,000 years seems to have ever actually observed it. According to tradition, 9 Adar was the day on which initially peaceful and constructive disagreements between Beit Hillel and Beit Shammai, the two great schools of thought during the Mishnaic period, erupted into a violent conflict over 18 points of law. According to various sources, as many as 3,000 students were killed in the fighting.
Rabbi Daniel Roth, director of the Pardes Center for Judaism and Conflict Resolution in Jerusalem, thinks Jews can no longer afford not to mark 9 Adar (though it need not necessarily involve fasting). He believes it is high time that Jews take pause from the traditional rejoicing during Adar to commemorate a historical day of destructive conflict, and turn it into a day that reminds us of the need for more constructive, mindful and respectful interactions.
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© 2014 Renee Ghert-Zand. All rights reserved.