Month of אייר, Iyar
As I wrote in my previous article, I focused on the historical ironies of the Jewish month of Iyar which corresponds mostly to the secular month of May.
There are 3 important Jewish dates in the month of אייר, Iyar:
5th- Israel Independence Day.
18th- Lag Ba’Omer.
28th- Yom Yerushalayim.
Iyar, which the acronym in Hebrew is “I’m G-d your healer,” is very profound. On Lag Ba’Omer we commemorate the Yarzeit (death anniversary) of our great Rabbinical luminary Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai, who continued to teach and study the Torah, some 1800 years ago, despite the death threats of the Romans. While hiding in a cave with his son, the spiritual flame of Torah study continued unabated. The flame of the Torah allowed the Jewish people to survive as a nation worldwide despite the fact that we were bereft of an independent Jewish Homeland. This is the reason why bonfires are lit on that night to demonstrate that our unity and survival can only be achieved with the spirit of the Torah.
Ironically, Lag Ba’Omer falls on the Jewish day of the 18th of Iyar. “18” is the Hebrew numerical equivalent to Chai-Life. The life of the Jewish people is our spiritual balm, the Torah.
And 50 years ago, the dream of 2,500 years became a reality in our generation when the Old City of Jerusalem, the eternal capital and Holy City of the Jewish people, was liberated with G-d’s grace by the Israel Defense Force. Jerusalem was liberated on the 28th day of Iyar. “28” in Hebrew is equivalent to the word “strength,” reminding us the strength of our historical ties to Jerusalem.
We have much to celebrate this month. Let each one commit to study our Torah and history to realize that we truly are a nation of unusual miracles.
May our generation witness the re-building of our Holy Temple, שיבנה בית המקדש במהרה בימינו.”
Sincerely and with blessings,
Rabbi Tzvi Berkowitz
Rockwood Park Jewish Center
National Conference of Shomrim Societies
Festival of Freedom
On Monday April 10th, we will begin the celebration of Passover,the festival that proclaims freedom and unity. It also identifies the Jewish people with their ancestors who ended their bondage in Egypt.For eight days we eat Matzah, unleaven bread. This is in memory of our ancestors hurried exit from Egypt.The Bible tells of the plagues that G-d brought down upon Pharaoh and his people in order to persuade him to let the Israelites go free.
The telling of the Exodus story remains the main theme, that permeates throughout the Passover Seder that is celebrated on the first two nights of Passover.
We use a book that narrates the story of Passover called the “Haggadah”.We fulfill the scriptural commandment to teach our children about the Jewish liberation from slavery in Egypt, as described in the book of Exodus.The word Seder means “order”of the various rituals that involves traditional songs and stories and the use of symbolic foods.The Seder includes a festive meal.In addition to being one of the most celebrated holidays it is considered an integral aspect of the Jewish faith and identity.Unlike other public holiday observances that are traditionally held in the synagogue,the Seder is usually held in the home. Passover is undoubtedly the festival that requires the strictest ritual observance. Not only refraining from eating bread or any unleavened products for eight days,but ridding our houses beforehand of all food not suitable for eating on Passover.
On behalf of my dear family we wish all our members and your families a Passover filled with joy and happiness.
Chaplain Alan Edwards