Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Chodesh Tov! Iyyar, The Second Month of the Jewish Calendar, a Month of Miracles

The title may be confusing for some. The Jewish Year as most know starts at the end of the summer on Rosh Hashannah, the first of the Month of Tishrei, but when counting the year by month, we begin with Nissan, the month of Miracles and spring. That's why Iyyar is the second month.  My friends and I will be meeting at Shiloh Hakeduma, Tel Shiloh tomorrow for our monthly prayers.  There are two days to this Rosh Chodesh, which happens a few times during the year, and I chose the second for our Women's Prayers.
Women's Prayers at Tel Shiloh Rosh Chodesh Iyar
Thursday, May 1, 2014, 1st of Iyar 5774, 8:30 amTour of Tel Shiloh & Dvar Torah, Short Torah LessonPlease come and invite family, friends and neighbors
תפילת נשים ראש חודש אייר בתל שילהיום ה' 1-5 א' אייר תשע"ד 8:30יהיה דבר תורה קצר וסיור בתל כדאי לבוא ולהזמין חברות, משפחה ושכנותMark your calendar, and join us. You're welcome to join our facebook page. Tel Shiloh is open to visitors daily. Tours can be arranged through the Shiloh HaKeduma, Ancient Shiloh office. Email  or phone 02-994-4019.
Iyyar is an amazing month, full of contrasts. First of all, the entire month is in the restricted Sefira period, the forty-nine days we count from Passover until Shavuot, seven weeks times seven.
During the period of Sefirat Ha'omer, we refrain from certain forms of festivity as an expression of mourning for the tragic deaths of Rabbi Akiva 24,000 disciples, which occurred during these weeks. The Shulhan Aruch mentions that we do not conduct weddings, or cut our hair during this period. The Magen Avraham (commentary to the Shulhan Aruch by Rabbi Avraham Gombiner, Poland, 1637-1683) further adds the prohibition of listening to music...Sefirat Ha'omer, by contrast, is actually a very auspicious time. So much so, that the Ramban, in his Torah commentary (Parashat Emor), speaks of these weeks as *a kind of "Hol Ha'mo'ed" in between the two festivals of Pesah and Shavuot.
On the 18th of Iyyar is Lag B'Omer, meaning the 33rd of the Omer period. It's a day of celebration. And since 1948 there have been other days of celebration, Yom Ha'atzma'ut, Israeli Independence Day and Yom Yerushalayim, Jerusalem Day since Israel's victory during the 1967 Six Days War.

Not only was the 1967 Six Days War a miracle of survival for the young and weak (by human standards) Jewish State, but the miraculous, meaning G-d facilitated, victory brought us the liberation of our Biblical, historic Homeland, Judea, Samaria plus the Golan, Jordan Valley and the Sinai.

It's very clear that this victory and its resulting border changes was all of G-d's planning, because the IDF had only aimed to "keep status quo." The Eshkol Labor secular Leftist Party Government had sent messages to Jordanian King Hussein begging him not to join Egypt and Syria in the attack on Israel. For weeks leading up to the war, Egypt's Nasser had been publicly threatening to destroy the State of Israel and sweep it into the sea. He ordered the United Nations Peace Keeping Forces to abandon ship, which they promptly did.

No country, that's right no country came to Israel's aid. The world just watched and waited to see the young Jewish State destroyed, but G-d had other plans.

Considering that the 5th of Iyyar is Israeli Independence Day, and the 28th of Iyyar is Jerusalem Day, both between Passover which celebrates our Biblical exodus from slavery to Pharaoh in Egypt and Shavuot the Holiday celebrating G-d's giving us the Torah, the foundation of Judaism, I'd say that supports the idea that the Omer period is  "*a kind of "Hol Ha'mo'ed" in between the two festivals of Pesah and Shavuot."

This should all be another reminder to us that we're not in charge. G-d is, and we should praise and thank G-d at all opportunities and occasions. Yes, that includes saying Hallel with a blessing on Israeli Independence Day.

Shiloh is among the Biblical sites liberated in the 1967 Six Days War

What are the ideas expressed in Hallel? The Gemara (the Rabbinic debates on the Mishnah) tells us that Hallel includes five major themes (Pesachim 118a)1. The Exodus from Egypt2. The splitting of the Red Sea3. The giving of the Torah4. The revival of the dead5. The difficulties preceding the Messianic Age In other words, Hallel deals with all of Jewish history from the birth of our nation to the establishment of the Messianic Era. In Hallel we express our joy at past miracles and our faith in future miracles. 

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