Month of Iyar

Tune into the energy and power of the month of Iyar, the 2nd month of the Jewish Calendar.

The month of Iyar is the second of the twelve months of the Jewish year. This month is blessed with powers of healing. Our sages note that the name Iyar is an acronym of the verse “Ani Hashem Rofecha” (Exodus 15:26) which means, “I am G-d your Healer”.

Iyar is an auspicious time to focus especially on healing the stomach and the gall bladder of illnesses associated with digestion. Maimonides said that most sicknesses and weaknesses stem from consuming foods that are not suitable to one’s body and subjecting the body to wrong eating habits. The month of Iyar is a good time to reassess and establish a healthy nutrition program and involve oneself in cleansing the digestion system from unhealthy conditions.

It was in the month of Iyar that the manna began to come down from heaven and sustained the people of Israel in the desert. The manna was completely absorbed in the body without leaving any waste or causing any illnesses. Its healing powers left their imprint on this month, making it a month of recovery and well-being.

According to the book of Yetzirah, the soul power which is connected with Iyar is Thought – the faculty of contemplation and introspection. This is the month of preparation for the receiving of the Torah. The well of Miriam, which traveled together with the people of Israel in the desert providing them with fresh water, was also given in the month of Iyar. When the Jewish people reached the borders of the Land of Israel, the well of Miriam was placed somewhere in the center of the Sea of Galilee (Kinneret). The holy Arizal once took his close student, Rabbi Chaim Vital, on a boat to the center of the Kinneret where the well of Miriam issued its waters. He gave his precious disciple some water to drink and told him that that would help him to have a deep understanding and an open heart to absorb the secrets of Torah.

This month is associated with the Tribe of Yissachar, the tribe of Torah scholars and masters of the secrets of the calculation of the Jewish calendar. This is the month of counting and calculation. We count the Omer daily (Sefirat Ha’omer) – forty nine days, which are the seven weeks between Pesach and Shavuot – the holiday of receiving the Torah.

The Zodiac sign of Iyar is “Shor” (Taurus – ox). The Shor (the left face of the Divine Chariot) represents the spiritual origin of the “animal soul” of man. This month is the time to rectify, refine and elevate the innate character traits of our “animal soul”.

According to the book of Yetzirah, the body part connected with Iyar is the right kidney. The kidneys represent inner advice and conscience. It is a time for inner introspection for the sake of self-improvement.

The letter “vav” of the Hebrew alphabet is the letter crowned in the month of Iyar. “Vav” is a link and connector – as Iyar is the month that connects between Nissan (the month of the Exodus of Israel from Egypt) and the month of Sivan (the month of the giving of the Torah on Mount Sinai). The letter “vav” in Kabbalah represents Hamshacha – drawing and bringing down – in this case, bringing down and internalizing the revelations of Pesach through working on oneself and becoming a refined receptacle for Divine wisdom. It is a Jewish custom to learn the Tractate of Avos during this month. This tractate is a Torah guide for self refinement.

On the 14th of Iyar we celebrate the “Second Pesach” (Pesach Sheini). It was originally established for those who were in a spiritually impure state and could not partake in the ritual and eating of the Pesach sacrifice. The “Second Pesach” – one month after the first Pesach – was a time to purify oneself and make up for that which was missed. The lesson we derive out of Pesach Sheini is that it is never too late. G-d always grants us another chance to rectify and correct.

Every day of Iyar is connected with the mitzvah (commandment) of counting the Omer. This mitzvah brings the importance and preciousness of time to the forefront of our awareness. Every moment of time has its own purpose. We are encouraged by the Torah to be fully conscious and present so we can weave all our moments together into a beautiful tapestry of Divine life.

The thirty-third day of the Omer – the 18th of Iyar – is the special day of “Lag B’Omer”. This is the day of the passing of Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai, the author of the holy Zohar1. On that day, prior to his passing, Rabbi Shimon instructed his disciples to establish this day as a day of rejoicing. This day marks the tremendous joy associated with the revelation of the esoteric, inner dimensions and secrets of the Torah. The month of Iyar is also called the month of “Ziv”, which means “shine”. Perhaps it is the day of Lag B’Omer that illuminates the entire month with the illustrious light of Torah and its secrets.

Lag B’Omer is also distinguished for being the day on which a plague that had broken out among the students of Rabbi Akiva ended. Rabbi Akiva had 24,000 students and the Gemora says that they died because they did not show sufficient honor to one another. The spiritual reason why they stopped dying on Lag B’Omer is because the exaltedness of the the day transformed the students’ behavior. Thus, Lag B’Omer is a day of celebrating “Ahavat Yisrael”, love of our fellow man and unity between people, which is made possible by subduing and refining our egos through the month of Iyar.

1The masterpiece of Kabbalah.