Rosh Hodesh Iyar Torah Essay
(This Dvar Torah was written by Nava Sackett and presented by Melissa Rayman)
The month of Iyar according to Jewish tradition, is commonly referred to as the month of natural healing, for its name is an acronym for Ani Hashem Rofecha, “I am G-d your Healer” (Shemot 15:26). This promise, provided by Hashem at Mara, the place of bitter waters, accompanied the provision of commandments meant to “heal” and refine Bnei Yisrael from the corrupt influences of Egypt in order to receive the Torah (Kohelet Rabbah 3:15). Thus, Iyar as a month of healing is not merely a word play, but an essential and intrinsic time from Nissan to Sivan, for national refinement and recuperation. Along these lines, let us consider the following holidays in the month of Iyar: Yom HaZikaron – 4 Iyar, Yom HaAtzmaut – 5 Iyar, Pesach Sheni – 14 Iyar, Lag BaOmer – 18 Iyar, and Yom Yerushalayim – 28 Iyar, all of which are associated with national healing.
To my knowledge, Israel is the only country in the world that has its Independence day (Atzmaut) preceded by its Memorial (Zikaron) day just one day before! This is just one example of recuperation and revival; how does a nation heal after mourning the loss of close to 24,000 soldiers? By celebrating Yom HaAtzmaut! The fact that those two days are connected,underscores the “cost” of having a free independent state. We first commemorate Yom HaZikaron which highlights mourning and loss, yet immediately afterwards we jump into Yom HaAtzmaut which is celebrating healing and life.
Just over a week later is Pesach Sheni, the holiday of second chances where once again we allow the healing process to come to fruition. A person who was tameh (i.e.spiritually impure/unhealthy) on Pesach Rishon, thereby unable to bring the korban Pesach, is given the opportunity to recover and bring his sacrifice exactly a month later, on Pesach Sheini. Just four days later is Lag BaOmer, the day when 24,000 students of Rabbi Akiva stopped dying. Once again we see the month of Iyar at the center of healing and comfort.
Finally, on the 28th of Iyar comes the biggest healing of all. The day when Yerushalayim was liberated and returned to the Jewish nation. In the 1948 War of Independence, Israeli soldiers and civilians courageously fought the enemy; yet they were defeated and Yerushalayim fell into Jordanian hands. Nineteen years later, once again in the month of Iyar the healing process began and Yerushalayim, specifically Har HaBayit, returned to Jewish control.
The month of Iyar has once again worked its healing magic and all that’s left is the final healing of all, the rebuilding of the Beit HaMikdash. May it be rebuilt in our days! Chodesh tov U’bari!