Rosh Chodesh Iyyar - ראש חודש אִיָּר

April 23, 2020

Rosh Chodesh Iyyar  ראש חודש אִיָּר

 

 

Rosh Chodesh — which literally means “head of the month” — is the minor holiday that marks the beginning of every Hebrew month. The Jewish calendar, which combines both lunar and solar aspects, has 12 months (and 13 in leap years); half of these months are 30 days long and half are 29 days. At the end of months that have 30 days, Rosh Chodesh is observed for two days, on the 30th day of the previous month and the first day of the new month. After months that have 29 days, only the first day of the next month is observed as Rosh Chodesh.

 

The month of Iyar

The name of this month is called Iyar as its Babylonian name. In the Torah, it is called the second month, because it is counted second from the first month called Nissan. When we read the first book of Kings, we learn that this month is also named, Ziv, the month of radiance.

 

1 Kings Chapter 6 מְלָכִים א

1 And it came to pass in the four hundred and eightieth year after the children of Israel were come out of the land of Egypt, in the fourth year of Solomon’s reign over Israel, in the month Ziv, which is the second month, that he began to build the house of the L-RD.

א  וַיְהִי בִשְׁמוֹנִים שָׁנָה וְאַרְבַּע מֵאוֹת שָׁנָה לְצֵאת בְּנֵי-יִשְׂרָאֵל מֵאֶרֶץ-מִצְרַיִם בַּשָּׁנָה הָרְבִיעִית בְּחֹדֶשׁ זִו, הוּא הַחֹדֶשׁ הַשֵּׁנִי, לִמְלֹךְ שְׁלֹמֹה, עַל-יִשְׂרָאֵל; וַיִּבֶן הַבַּיִת, לַיהוָה.

 

The Jewish Month of Iyar

According to Sefer Yetzirah, each month of the Jewish year has a letter of the Hebrew alphabet, one of the twelve tribes of Israel, a sense, and a controlling limb of the body that correspond to it.

“Iyar” is the second of the twelve months of the Jewish biblical calendar. In the Bible, the month of Iyar is called the month of “Ziv” (radiance). Iyar is also cognate to light. The month of Iyar is commonly referred to as the month of (natural) healing, for its name is an acronym for “I am G-d your Healer” (Exodus 15:26).

 

Letter: “Vav.”

“Vav” is a link. Iyar links together the two months of Nissan and Sivan (by the power of “S’firat haOmer,” which begins in Nissan, continues throughout Iyar, and concludes in Sivan), the month of redemption and the month of the giving of the Torah. Of course, we also celebrate the outpouring of the Ru’ach HaKodesh on Shavuoth. Only these three months are referred to in the Torah as the first, the second, and the third month of “the Exodus of Israel from Egypt.”

 

Mazal: “Shor” (ox).

The “shor” (the left face of the Divine Chariot) represents the spiritual origin of the “animal soul” of man. The month of Iyar is the month that man rectifies his animal soul, refines his innate character traits (each day of “sefirat haomer“), as he prepares to receive the Torah in Sivan. In Hebrew, the root “shor” also means to look or observe. Iyar is the month of introspection for the sake of self-improvement.

 

Tribe: Isaachar.

Isaachar is the scholarly tribe of Israel. The Sanhedren was mostly composed from the tribe of Isaachar. In particular, Isaachar was the master of the “secret” of the Jewish calender, as is said of him: “knowers of understanding the times.” His basic nature is contemplative and he serves as the “advisor” to his brethren, the tribes of Israel (in particular to the king, Judah).

 

Sense: Thought.

Thought here implies contemplation and introspection. It also signifies the power of calculation (as in the calculation of the calender). This is the month of counting (“S’firat haOmer“). The root “to think” in Hebrew “chashav” means “numerical calculation,” “cheshbon.

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