Rosh Chodesh Iyar Torah essay: Our month to shine

Iyar is a month of promise - let us hope we merit to fulfill it!

Matan Women's Institute for Torah Studies

Judaism Learning Torah
Learning Torah

The Edythe Benjamin חיה בת שלמה, beloved mother of Barbara Hanus, Rosh Hodesh Iyar Torah Essay

Author of this essay, Shanee Mali, is originally from Eugene, Oregon.  She is a scholar in Matan's Petichta and  Tzerufim programs, as well as a graduate of the Eshkolot class of 2019. She enjoys philosophy, hiking, and working with children.  Shanee currently teaches at Midreshet Amit for overseas students and the Hebrew University's English speaking RRG Beit Midrash.

Rosh Hodesh Iyar is a month filled with an amazing sense of promise.

I first want to explore this month through the many names by which it is referred.

The name that most of us probably use is Iyar. It was in Bavel that we gained the name Iyar for this month, and it is a name that is probably related to the Akadian word ayyaru, which means “blossom.”

Another possible understanding is to view the letters as an acronym for אני י‑י רפאך, I am Hashem your Healer, giving the character of the month a healing vibe.

The Tanakh refers to this month by two different names. The first is “the second month,” and the second is “Ziv.” In Hebrew, Ziv means light and radiance. We find this name for the month mentioned in Sefer Melachim:

וַיְהִ֣י בִשְׁמוֹנִ֣ים שָׁנָ֣ה וְאַרְבַּ֣ע מֵא֣וֹת שָׁנָ֡ה לְצֵ֣את בְּנֵֽי־יִשְׂרָאֵ֣ל מֵאֶֽרֶץ־מִצְרַיִם֩ בַּשָּׁנָ֨ה הָרְבִיעִ֜ית בְּחֹ֣דֶשׁ זִ֗ו ה֚וּא הַחֹ֣דֶשׁ הַשֵּׁנִ֔י לִמְלֹ֥ךְ שְׁלֹמֹ֖ה עַל־יִשְׂרָאֵ֑ל וַיִּ֥בֶן הַבַּ֖יִת לַיהוָֽה׃

In the four hundred and eightieth year after the Israelites left the land of Egypt, in the month of Ziv—that is, the second month—in the fourth year of his reign over Israel, Solomon began to build the House of the LORD.

בַּשָּׁנָה֙ הָֽרְבִיעִ֔ית יֻסַּ֖ד בֵּ֣ית יְהוָ֑ה בְּיֶ֖רַח זִֽו׃

In the fourth year, in the month of Ziv, the foundations of the House were laid.
This is the month that we began building the Beit HaMikdash; truly an auspicious time!

Having first looked at the name of the month, I will now cite some of the events that have occured in it.

In biblical times we see that Pesach Sheni falls on the 14th of Iyar. This holiday highlights for us Hashem’s graciousness in giving us more than one chance. Even though we may have missed out on Pesach in Nisan, He grants us another opportunity to serve Him. Further, it is so inspiring that it was we the people that asked Hashem what to do when some of us missed Pesach; the desire of our nation to serve Hashem is great.

In our time we observe the holidays of Yom HaZikaron, Yom HaAtzmaut, and Yom Yerushalaim in Iyar. For many of us, this month renews our appreciation for Israel, and inspires gratitude for  all that we have accomplished since returning to our sacred homeland.

Now that I have laid some ideas before you, I will weave them together and share with you my personal thoughts:

The biblical name of Ziv, light, indicates that this month is a month for radiance and glory. Iyar, the acronym which reminds us that Hashem is our Healer.

Pesach Sheni, a time for second chances. Yom HaAtzmaut, a second chance at building our nation.

It was in this month that we first laid down the foundations for the Beit Hamikdash, a glorious use of our sovereignty. Once again, we are sovereign in our homeland, we have a second chance to use our sovereignty well.

This is our month to shine!