Since the Hamas massacre of October 7th, Hamas, the Palestinian Authority, and their sympathizers have peddled a particular refrain: “History didn’t start on October 7th—this act comes after 75 years of struggle.” Setting the inane, false moral equivalence of the statement aside, it does contain a partial truth. People are correct to say that history did start on October 7th, 2023, but just as importantly, it didn’t begin on May 14th, 1948, either. If we want to think biblically about this issue, we must make the claim that, technically, history started “In the beginning” when God began His creation.
There are many joyous dates on the Jewish calendar, but besides Purim, none affect an entire month, causing it to be auspicious and joyous. Purim is the celebration of Israel’s rescue from the Persian leader Haman’s genocidal plot (as recorded in the Book of Esther). The Rabbis teach that Purim is like Yom Kippur (the “Day of Atonement”). While on Yom Kippur we achieve holiness through the mortification of the flesh and long hours of prayer, we realize that same level of holiness on Purim through feasting, celebration, and joy.
According to Tradition, the first of Shevat is when Moses began giving his final address to Israel. “Across the Jordan in the land of Moab, Moses began to explain this Torah saying, ‘Adonai our God spoke to us at Horeb saying: ‘You have stayed long enough at this mountain’” (Deuteronomy 1:5-6). For the entire month of Shevat, he would sit in the meeting tent and elucidate the Torah.