Dinah's Month: Poem for Adar Aleph

This poem reflects on Adar Aleph, the "first" Adar (Feb.-March). This year is a leap year in the Jewish calendar, and so two months of Adar occur instead of one. According to some mystical traditions, the twelve months of the year relate to the twelve tribes, while the leap month of Adar is connected to Dinah, Jacob's daughter. In Jewish tradition, a leap year is called "me'uberet," meaning "pregnant."

Adar Aleph is the month most often missing
as you are most often missing, your story
lacking like a year without a season,
your life events reduced
to a syrup of rape and vengeance,
a place to pour out anger.

After that bright day in the wilderness,
was there a fear in your mind you could never silence?
Did you love the man the way some say you did
or is that too a lie, a mask for what really happened?
Was there something else you loved—
an idea, a mother, a scent, a woman with black hair,
a crescent moon, an orange, an amulet,
or a pearl a trader carried to you on his camel?
Could anyone among the ragged wanderers
who bore your thousand names across six continents
put a face to you?

Have we tried enough to find one thread of your garment—
the shawl Sarah left with her sister
saying she wouldn’t wear it now that she was a pioneer,
that Rebekah brought to wrap herself in the fragrance of the old land,
the one in which Leah swathed herself like a laundered self,
the soft old shawl maybe you loved, though it did not save you?

We have sewed you into the calendar, though we see you
sporadically, when the year spreads open its days like legs
and the fog lifts from our own ancient bodies.

You are our leap month—
our years are pregnant with you,
Dinah daughter
of a woman veiled by darkness, daughter
of a woman veiled by memory,
daughter of a woman veiled by time.

Rabbi Jill Hammer is the founder of Tel Shemesh and the author of Sisters at Sinai: New Tales of Biblical Women.

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