Sivan Rahav-Meir
Sivan Rahav-Meirצילום: PR

Translation by Yehoshua Siskin

1. The new month of Iyar is observed for two days -- today and tomorrow.. It is customary to say that Iyar (spelled aleph-yud-yud-reish) is an acronym: Aleph = Ani (I am), double yud = Hashem, and reish = rofecha (your healer). This month is considered the month of healing for both body and soul. Our commentators explain that while the nation of Israel went out from Egyptian slavery in the month of Nissan, it went through a process of healing and renewal in the month of Iyar.

2. We brought back the name Iyar -- which means "light" -- from the Babylonian exile. Indeed, this is a month of light, of the glow of springtime and its bright bursts of flowers. Just look around you.

3. And there is so much more light that shines this month. The 18th of Iyar is Lag BaOmer, the day that Shimon Bar Yochai, who is identified with illumination of the hidden Torah or Kabbalah. The 14th of Iyar is the day of Pesach Sheini, the second Pesach. In the Sinai Desert, whoever was unable to celebrate the first Seder in Nissan was given an opportunity to celebrate Pesach a month later. In the middle of the month of Iyar. This day became one of rectification, of taking advantage of a second chance to make up for what was missed the first time; it represents the idea that it's never too late to make amends. And in our own time, on the 5th of Iyar 75 years ago (in 1948), the State of Israel was established and on the 25th of Iyar 56 years ago (in 1967), the Old City and East Jerusalem were liberated, events whose radiant light has given us a glimmering of the final redemption that is sure to come soon.

4. In observance of the new month, we add to our prayers and our grace after meals the words "ya'aleh veyavo," we recite (and sing) the Hallel prayer -- consisting of psalms of thanks -- and we recite a special Musaf or additional Shemoneh Esrei prayer in honor of the new month.

5. The month of Iyar possesses a special quality unique among all the months of the year: In this month, each day is associated with a mitzvah, that of Sefirat HaOmer (counting the Omer). Although we begin counting the Omer in the middle of the month of Nissan and we finish on the festival of Shavuot in the month of Sivan, it is only in the month of Iyar that each day is counted. Thus, it is a month that reminds us to appreciate the value of each day and to utilize our time to the fullest. Iyar instructs that each day is important and unique unto itself.

Have a good and blessed month. Shabbat shalom.