In our previous article we discussed the status of the first and second months of Adar from the perspective of the celebration of Purim. As we saw the time of celebration was determined by the question of when would be the more appropriate time to commemorate the miracle. In this article we will tackle the issue from the perspective of several other halachic issues.
In Nedarim 63a we find that Rabi Meir and Rabi Yehudah differ on which Adar is considered the original Adar and which is the added Adar when writing a deed or in the interpretation of vows. Rabi Meir is of the opinion that when writing a contract or deed during the first month of Adar one must write “the first Adar”. When writing a deed during the second month of Adar one may write just Adar. Rabi Yehudah disagrees and states that in the first month of Adar it is sufficient to write Adar while during the second Adar one must state “the second Adar”. While Rabi Meir sees the second Adar as the “real Adar” and Rabi Yehudah feels the first Adar is the true Adar, there may be an opinion that both months constitute one long month. This last opinion is based on a version of the Mishna found in the Yerushalmi that reads “If a person vows until the beginning of Adar he is committed until the first day of the first Adar. If he vows until the end of Adar he is committed to his vow until the end of the second Adar”.
Most poskim are of the opinion that we should rule like Rabi Yehudah wherever he argues with Rabi Meir. Therefore, in contracts and vows we see the first Adar as the true Adar and the second Adar as the added month. Consequently, we should write only Adar during the first month and “the second Adar” during the second month. (See Tur OC 428 and Rama OC 827.) The Bach (Bayit Chadash OC 427, 428) based on his understanding of the Rambam (Nedarim 10/6) rules that since there are opinions to rule like Rabi Meir we must state which Adar it is during both months. In the event that a specification was not included in the first Adar the deed is valid. If a specification is omitted during the Second Adar the deed becomes invalid. This is the commonly accepted practice as stated by the Mishna Berurah and Aruch Hashulchan. (OC 428)
As in many other issues we are more stringent when writing a Get, a bill of divorce. In Gittin even the Rama feels that on both months we must ideally specify in which month of Adar the Get was written. If no specification was written on the first Adar the Get is legitimate while in the second Adar it would be disqualified. The Bach is more stringent then the Rama in this as well and disqualifies any Get written during Adar that does not specify which Adar it is.
Another area where determining the true Adar is of importance is when a yortzite should be commemorated. The Shulchan Aruch (OC 568/7) is of the opinion that the yortzite should be commemorated in the second Adar. The Rama there and in Yoreh Deiah (402/12) is of the opinion that the proper time to commemorate a yortzite should be in the first Adar. The one exception according to the Rama is in the event that the year of death was a leap year and the person passed away during the second month of Adar. In that case the Rama agrees that we commemorate the yortzite on the precise date of death during the second Adar. In Orach Chayim the Rama adds that there are those who observe the day on both months. Most Achronim feel that the Shulchan Aruch decided on the basis of the above-mentioned opinion of the Rambam, since most other Rishonim held that the first Adar is the true Adar we should follow the ruling of the Rama. As to commemorating the date both months the opinions vary. The Shach (YD 402/11) tends to embrace this custom while the Aruch Hashulchan (OC 568/ 13-14) rejects the idea as irrelevant.
Finally, there is the question of when to recognize a girl of twelve or a boy of thirteen as an adult. Even though, as a whole, the Rama seems to take the position that the first Adar is the true Adar and the second an added month, on this issue the Rama’s ruling is that we should acknowledge a girl as Bat Mitzvah or a boy as Bar Mitzvah on the date of their birth during the second month of Adar. The reason for this difference is that Bar and Bat Mitzvah require a full twelve or thirteen years of life. Since a leap year is defined as a thirteen-month year we would need to wait for the proper date on the second month of Adar. In the event that a girl or boy were born on a leap year and their birthday was in the first Adar, many authorities feel that the Bar or Bat Mitzvah should be during the first month of Adar on the precise date of birth. The Magen Avraham argues that in this case too,the Bar or Bat Mitzvah should be on the date of birth during the second Adar. His reasoning being that here too, the twelfth or thirteenth year should be a year of thirteen months.
In conclusion: most authorities are of the opinion that the first month of Adar is the true Adar. In the event that we require a completion of a certain number of years then the leap year is considered a thirteen-month year and we would see the conclusion of that year during the second Adar.