Hidden Sparks Beneath the Surface | A Month of Light
The Month of Iyar, Ziv
A Month of Light, Radiance, Healing and Counting of the Omer
Part of an ongoing series entitled Hidden Sparks Beneath the Surface
By Elisheva Tavor aka Betty Tabor Givin
All the months are interrelated, each connecting to the next in the cycle of the seasons, the ‘round’ of the year…set up by The Creator from the beginning for our benefit to make up what we call time…like a beautiful string of pearls…each is significant to the whole…and each carries within it a special spark that lies hidden beneath the surface, waiting to be discovered!
Tonight begins the new month of Iyar, or the second month, as it is referred to in the Torah. It is a month sandwiched in between the two Giant months, that of Nisan, the month of the Exodus from Egypt and Sivan, the month of Matan Torah, the Giving of the Torah at Mt. Sinai.
Re-cap To re-cap a bit, in our last article we quoted from the Torah when HaShem, referring to Nisan said: “This month shall be for you the head of the months. It is the first for YOU of the months of the year.” (Shemot/Exodus 12)!
When HaShem said, this month is for you It is as if to say, it is “your very own! “We spoke about how amazing this was! We know from reading the account in Exodus that to these Hebrew slaves that basically owned nothing, this month did indeed become their “very own”…for it was given over to them…given over to them as the month of their redemption! They were to teach it to their children and to their children’s children throughout the generations…dor v’ dor (love that phrase)! And now it has come to us…to you and you and you…because we have attached ourselves to HaShem, Torah and the Jewish people! Halleluyah!!! Baruch HaShem. Given this background of Nisan, we can see that the first month was quite a significant one. But what of the second month, the month of Iyar?
Having been redeemed from Mitzrayim, that narrow place, were the Children of Israel with their new found freedom ready to go straight to Sinai and receive HaShem’s Torah and be brought into Eternal Covenant with Him as described as occurring in the month of Sivan? No!
Iyar-A Bridge This is where the month of Iyar comes in, sandwiched right here in the middle of the two Giants, Nisan and Siva, where we have the major Festivals of Pesach and Shavuot…
Given this placement, one might at first suppose this month to be insignificant, but that is not at all the case as we shall discover this evening.
The month of Iyar has a definite purpose as do all things created by HaShem. According to the Jewish sages, Iyar is a month of Light and a month of Healing. A month that Rabbi Richman refers to as “a bridge from the past to the future” It is a bridge from slavery to freedom, from Pesach to Sinai …
The Children of Israel needed a bridge between these two major Festivals, these mo’edim, these meetings with HaShem. They needed a time to take stock, to prepare and to purify themselves…just as we do today.
His Presence and the Redemption Going back to Pesach for a moment and the events leading up to this amazing Festival, you may recall the account at the burning bush when HaShem told Moshe that He was to free his people from slavery in Egypt and bring them out of Mitzrayim? And what did HaShem answer to Moshe when he asked, Who shall I say sent me? His response was Eheyeh asher Eheyeh. The translation most of us are more familiar with is “I Am what I Am or I Will Be What I Will Be,
Rav Moshe Dror Cassuto of the Emunah Channel has an interesting teaching on Eheyeh asher Eheyeh which provides some additional insights. He says that HaShem is saying, “I will be with you,” but then again He repeats, “I will be with you,” meaning…I will be with you in the redemption out of Egypt (the first redemption) and I will be with you in the desert, as you build the Mishkan/Tabernacle, as you go into the land and build the temple and on through the centuries…through the exile, through all the persecutions, the pogroms, the Holocaust, up through the establishment of the State of Israel and beyond…I will be with you into the future redemption which will be the final redemption!
Jeremiah 16:14 powerfully brings out this promise regarding the future redemption, “Therefore, behold the days are coming says HaShem, when it shall no more be said, As HaShem lives, that brought up the children of Yisrael out of the land of Mitzrayim, but, As HaShem lives, that brought the children of Yisrael from the land of the north, and from all the lands into which He had driven them and I will bring them back into their land that I gave to their fathers.”
Rav Dror also said that there is even a deeper more personal meaning to HaShem’s words here, Eheyeh asher Eheyeh and that is , I will be with you as YOU are with me. In other words, I will be with you and reveal myself to you as you open yourself up to me. We know that HaShem is always with us, but it is up to us to let him in.
And how do we do that? How do we let Him in? Through acknowledging His Presence at all times, in all things…Through G-d Consciousness…even in the dark…especially in the dark, when we are hurting, challenged, bewildered, when we don’t know what to do.
HaShem, the Source of all Light We let Him in through letting in the Light, like a rheostat on a light switch, the light may be dim at first, but as we turn the dial, it gets brighter and brighter and soon the room that was once dark is filled with The Glorious Light which is a manifestation of The Kavod, His Very Presence. In the beautiful words of the Aaronic or Priestly Benediction, The Light is His Countenance, His Face and we ask that it shine upon us!…
We read of that Brilliant First Light in the account of the Creation in Beresheit The Book of Genesis, and it resurfaces all through the Torah, the Prophets, the Psalms and the Writings in the Tanach and in our prayers in the Jewish Prayer Book called the Siddur which acclaim HaShem as the Source of all Light!
The name Iyar (אייר) is formed from the root word ohr – (אור) – light – representing the burst of light that was released into the world first at Creation and then again with the Exodus from Egypt, and again at Sinai, and will again be released during the Final Redemption!
The prophet Isaiah in the first few verses of chapter 60 reflects this concept of glorious Light breaking forth from the darkness which will cover the entire earth and all creation and brings it down to a personal level when he says, “Arise, shine, for your light has come…!”
Iyar is also known in as “Ziv” which means brightness or radiance so is in direct correspondence with ohr, which means light and from which we have the root word for the month we have just entered, the month of Iyar.
HaShem, the Source of all Healing The month of Iyar is not only a month representing Light, but one of Healing. It is the month during which the manna began to fall from heaven while the Children of Israel were in the desert; and according to the Midrash, the month in which the well of Miriam bringing them fresh water, began to travel along with them.
Our sages teach that the Manna provided not only physical nourishment, but spiritual nourishment which was rich in healing qualities for the body and soul alike. Likewise, they point out that the name Iyar, in Hebrew, is an acronym for the words, “Ani HaShem Rophecha” – “I am HaShem your healer,” (רפאך ‘ה ניא) words which G-d spoke to Israel after the crossing of the Sea of Reeds, at Mara where they encountered the bitter waters.
Significant Events in the Month of Iyar It is significant to note some special dates that come during the month of Iyar, dates both ancient and more modern. Solomon began building the first Holy Temple or House for HaShem.(I Kings 6:1)
14 Iyar – Pesach Sheni – Referenced in II Chronicles 30 – Instituted by King Hezekiah for those who were unable to keep the first Pesach
18 Iyar – Lag B’Omer – corresponds to the 33rd day in the omer-count, having to do with remembering the death of Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai, the renowned author of the Mishna and one of the main authors of the Zohar and his son Rabbi Elazar. It also corresponds to remembering the disciples of Rabbi Akiva of whom many thousands had been struck by a plague during the Omer count and on the 18 Iyar stopped dying. In Israel and in Jewish communities all over the world it is customary to rejoice and have picnics and give their little 3 year old boys their first haircut.
On 5 Iyar, 1948 the State of Israel was officially established! And it was in the month of Iyar in which the Israel Defense Forces, in the miraculous 1967 Six Day War, liberated and reunited the city of Jerusalem. and the Temple Mount which sits in the heart of the city and is the heart of the nation…the place in which HaShem the Creator of the Universe chose to place His Name. (II Kings 21:4).
Bridging the Gap- Counting of the Omer During the month of Iyar, we bridge the 49 day gap between Pesach and Sinai by dedicating ourselves to the counting of the Omer. In the counting of the Omer each evening, we look inward, take stock of ourselves and do teshuvah, asking for strength to correct our faults and our weakness, both as individuals and as communities and groups attached to Israel. With humility, penitence and kavanah (intent) we turn our hearts towards our Creator and endeavor to once again dedicate ourselves to be all that we were created to be as we walk with Him.
May we all be blessed with light, with health and with renewed determination to live purposeful lives as individuals and fulfill our destiny as a community united as One before HaShem. Amein!