Thursday, March 17, 2011

Fish and Adar

It seems that there is a custom to give goldfish out at kindergarten during the month of Adar. Perhaps this is because the 'Mazal' (astrological sign) of Adar is Pisces

I think the (Jewish) source for the connection between months and constellations is Sefer Yitzirah, which writes:


1. The simple letters are twelve, namely: He, Vau, Zain, Heth, Teth, Yod, Lamed, Nun, Samech, Oin, Tzaddi, and Quoph; they represent the fundamental properties, eight, hearing, smell, speech, desire for food, the sexual appetite, movement, anger, mirth, thought, sleep, and work. These symbolize also twelve directions in space: northeast, southeast, the east above, the east below, the northwest, southwest, the west above, the west below, the upper south, the lower south, the upper north, the lower north. These diverge to all eternity, and an as the arms of the universe.

2. These twelve letters, he designed, formed, combined, weighed, and changed, and created with them the twelve divisions of the heavens (namely, the zodiacal constellations), the twelve months of the year, and the twelve important organs of the frame of man, namely the right and left hands, the right and left feet, two kidneys, the liver, the gall, the spleen, the intestines, the gullet, and the stomach.

But now I have another suggestion to offer as to why goldfish are associated with Adar. Because they tend to die on Taanis Esther! (Well, we've had one goldfish, and after more than a week it died today - which by coincidence is Taanis Esther. Therefore the statistically most likely date for all Sedley goldfishes to die is Taanis Esther!)

And then we can fulfill the verse in the Megillah (9:22):

כַּיָּמִים אֲשֶׁר־נָחוּ בָהֶם הַיְּהוּדִים מֵאֹויְבֵיהֶם וְהַחֹדֶשׁ אֲשֶׁר נֶהְפַּךְ לָהֶם מִיָּגֹון לְשִׂמְחָה וּמֵאֵבֶל לְיֹום טֹוב לַעֲשֹׂות אֹותָם יְמֵי מִשְׁתֶּה וְשִׂמְחָה וּמִשְׁלֹוחַ מָנֹות אִישׁ לְרֵעֵהוּ וּמַתָּנֹות לָאֶבְיֹונִים

As the days when the Jews rested from their enemies, and the month that was reversed for them from grief to joy and from mourning to a festive day - to make them days of feasting and joy, and sending portions one to another, and gifts to the poor.

(and in the meantime I have a crying daughter who is very upset!)

I told her that the goldfish has now gone to the big fishbowl in the sky, and it is not death, but rebirth...

PS Anyone want a slightly used fishbowl?

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