As a brief word of explanation, in the Hebrew Bible this second month of the year which is counted from Aviv or Nisan 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, however, which begins in the month of Tishrei (marking the beginning of the civil year), Iyar is the eighth month. It always falls in the spring either in April or May on the Gregorian calendar. Yet, however we count the months, there is a definite connection between them, set by the Hand of HaShem, as we have set forth in our introduction to this series.

“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 exceptionfor it plays a most vital link as we shall discover!

The question is, “What is that link?”

In Judaism there is a tenet to answer a question with a question, so we ask… having been redeemed from Mitzrayim, that narrow place of  Egyptian bondage 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!” It appears that a trek through the desert was necessary.

Iyar/Ziv – A Bridge, a Path

At first glance, given its placement on the Hebrew calendar between these two months with their monumental events, one might presume the month of Iyar 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 given to us 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 or path still remains intact for us to walk today. As the Prophet Jeremiah states, “Ask for the path where the good way is and walk upon it” (Jeremiah 6:16).

HaShem knows the hearts of His children, and He knew that the Children of Israel of antiquity desperately needed a space in time 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 space in time in the form of a bridge or path for His children, so that they would have time to take stock, prepare and purify themselves and their mindsets 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.

We are free, yes, but where do we go from here?  Do we find ourselves slipping back into bondage and old habits? Perhaps many of us are coming to the realization that we too are finding ourselves in need of this bridge or path as well, because as we look ahead on the calendar, we find that we are on the awesome countdown to Sinai…and if we are focused we can hear the Voice of HaShem calling out to us off in the distance as it has called out through the ages…ANOCHI! (Exodus 20:2). We ask ourselves the poignant question, “Are we ready to meet Him at the Mountain and proclaim these Words to us?”

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 was HaShem’s answer to His servant Moshe when Moshe asked, Who shall I say sent me?”  His response was “Eheyeh asher Eheyeh (Exodus 3:14). 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 states that this phrase, “Eheyeh asher Eheyeh,” means  “I am the One Who has been, Who is now, and Who will be in the future” (Sh’mot Rabbah 3:6).

In other words, HaShem is giving Moshe assurance that He,  (YHVH, the English acronym for the sacred Name) , 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… an assurance that will continue 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 intricately interwoven throughout the Torah and the Prophets. Jeremiah 16:14 powerfully brings out this promiseTherefore, 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 allow that Presence to permeate our hearts and minds.

And how do we do that? How do we let that Divine Presence in? We do it by making a conscious effort to exercise emunah and bitachon, faith and trust, in all things by building a sense of what I have termed G-d Consciousnesseven in the dark…especially in the dark, when we are facing difficult personal situations not only in our own lives, but also in the lives of our families and friends, our communities…and as we look outwards, we are witnessing what appears to be global chaos both within our own borders and abroad.

We are hurting, scared, challenged, bewildered…and sometimes it may feel as if we are all alone and in the dark…eyes closed shut…this is when we most desperately need to let Him in…it takes a conscious effort. We first have to open our eyes!

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 and as we awaken in the morning, we meditate by internalizing and acknowledging His Presence within us and ‘round about us by being grateful, by calling out to Him…by opening up and 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…may we reach out to one another and may our faces stay focused on the Light! Stay tuned for Part Two – Healing and The Counting of the Omer.

by Elisheva Tavor aka Betty Tabor Givin

Betty Tabor Givin (who is known by her Hebrew pen name as Elisheva Tavor) is a lifelong teacher. After having retired from her teaching career of several decades in the public and private school sector, she turned her full attention to religious education. She is an ordained teacher and long-time board member for United Israel World Union. Her popular teachings demonstrate the depth and beauty of her Jewish faith. Her articles have been featured in various publications and on the web. She is a regular contributor to Netiv Center for Torah Study and the United Israel Bulletin and is presently writing a book entitled, Hidden Sparks Beneath the Surface.