A Month of Light and Radiance
The 2nd Month – The Month of Iyar, Ziv Part One
A Month of Light and Radiance
Part of an ongoing series entitled Hidden Sparks Beneath the Surface
By Elisheva Tavor aka Betty Tabor Givin
As a brief word of explanation, in the Hebrew Bible this month is the second month of the year which is counted from Aviv or Nisan and is referred to as Ziv (I Kings 6:1, 6:37), meaning light, glow or radiance in Hebrew. After the Babylonian captivity it became known as Iyar and took on the same meaning and more as it is related to the Hebrew word for light, ohr.
On the traditional Jewish calendar which begins on 1 Tishrei it marks the beginning of the civil year and is the eighth month and falls in April or May on the Gregorian calendar. But however you count the months there is a definite connection between them.
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 And this month sandwiched in between the two Giant months of Nisan, the month of the Exodus from Egypt and the month of Sivan, the traditional month of Matan Torah, the giving of the Torah at Mt. Sinai is no exception…for it plays a most vital link!
We ask the question, having been redeemed from Mitzrayim, that narrow place of Egyptian slavery for over 400 years, 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? The answer is a resounding “No!”
Iyar/Ziv – A Bridge Sandwiched right here in the middle of the two Giant months, that of Nisan and Sivan, where we have the major Festivals of Pesach and Shavuot, we come to the month of Iyar or Ziv, the second month on the Biblical calendar.
Given this placement, one might at first suppose this month to be insignificant, but that is not at all the case for as we delve deeply we will discover more of those hidden sparks beneath the surface within it.
The month of Iyar or Ziv as it is referred to Biblically, has a definite purpose as do all things created by HaShem. According to the Jewish sages, it is a month of Light and a month of Healing and also a month of Counting and Preparation. It is a month that Rabbi Richman of the Temple Institute refers to as “a bridge from the past to the future.” It is a bridge from slavery to freedom, from Pesach to Sinai…and Baruch HaShem, that ancient bridge still remains intact for us to cross over today.
HaShem knows the hearts of His children and He knew that the Children of Israel of antiquity desperately needed this bridge between these two awesome Festivals, these mo’edim, where they were called upon to meet with Him. Thus in His perfect plan He provided that bridge for His children…so that they could take stock, prepare and purify themselves and be ready to meet him at the Mountain.
Fast forward about 3333 years to our present day and time…Following the glorious Festival of our Freedom, that of Pesach, many of us are perhaps trying to grapple and make sense of this new found “freedom” from bondage that we are called upon to experience this time of year in the midst of the chaos in the present world scene.
We are free, yes, but where do we go from here? Do we find ourselves slipping back into old habits and bondage and old habits? Perhaps many of us are coming to the realization that we too are finding ourselves in need of this bridge, for we are on the countdown to Sinai…and if we are focused we can hear the Voice of HaShem calling out to us off in the distance…We ask ourselves the poignant question, “Are we ready to meet Him at the mountain?”
His Presence and the Redemption-Looking Back, Looking Forwards Going back to Pesach for a moment and the events leading up to this amazing Festival, we recall the account at the burning bush when HaShem told Moshe that He was to free his Hebrew brothers and sisters from slavery in Egypt and bring them out of that narrow confining place 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” But what do these words mean? Volumes and volumes of books have been written on this phrase!
The Midrash teaches that the word Eheyeh is mentioned three times in Exodus 3:14 in HaShem’s answer to Moshe’s question, “Who shall I say sent me? “And G-d’s response is that, “I am the One who has been, Who is now, and Who will be in the future.” (Sh’mot Rabbah 3:6).
HaShem goes on to explain that He (YHVH) is the One who was and is the G-d of their forefathers, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob…that He has heard their cry and will be with them now, in the first redemption…the redemption out of Egypt, as they journey forth in the desert and as they go into the land… and on through the centuries from generation to generation…through the exile, through all the persecutions, the pogroms, the Holocaust, up through the establishment of the State of Israel and beyond…and that He will be with them into the future redemption which will be the final redemption!
This promise of this future redemption is woven throughout the Torah and the Prophets. Jeremiah 16:14 powerfully brings out this promise “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.”
We know that HaShem always keeps His promises…that He is always with us, but it is up to us to acknowledge His Divine Presence and to let him into our hearts and minds.
And how do we do that? How do we let Him in? We do it through exercising emunah and bitachon, faith and trust, by trying to acknowledge His Presence at all times, in all things…Through G-d Consciousness…even in the dark…especially in the dark, when so many of us are hurting,, scared, challenged, bewildered…when we don’t know what to do…like today when we are in the midst of this present global pandemic.
HaShem, the Source of all Light We let Him in through opening up our hearts to Him and to one another. By refusing to remain in darkness and negativity, we make a conscious effort to turn and lift up our faces towards Him. We develop that G-d Consciousness little by little, sometimes in baby steps as we lie down on our beds at night or awaken in the morning. We meditate by simply calling out to Him, by being grateful…by just 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 transformed for it is filled with Light, that Glorious Light, that Light which is a manifestation of The Kavod, His Very Presence and those hidden sparks beneath the surface become brighter and brighter as they begin to come forth and break out to embrace the Light! Baruch HaShem!
In the beautiful words of the Aaronic or Priestly Benediction, “May HaShem bless you and keep you, May HaShem make His face shine upon you and be gracious to you. May HaShem lift up His Countenance upon you and give you peace”… (Exodus 3:13-15)
Shalom…and may your faces stay focused on the Light! Stay tuned for Part Two – Healing and The Counting of the Omer.
1 Iyar 5781 – written by Elisheva Tavor