My daughter Nava needed to write a d’var Torah about the month of Iyar, so we put our heads together and started to think. It’s well known that, according to Jewish tradition, Iyar is commonly referred to as the month of healing, for its name is an acronym of “Ani Hashem Rof’echa” (“I am G-d your Healer” – Sh’mos 15:26) – but there had to be more than that.
The month of Iyar has magical healing powers simply because its letters spell a verse in the Torah? That’s cute but we’re missing something. We then took a good look at the month and realized – yes! – Iyar is exactly that! It really is the month of healing… both on the individual level, but even more so, on the national level! It’s the month when we shake off the dust and rise to greatness! Let me explain.
The month opens with Yom HaZikaron (Memorial Day for IDF soldiers, underground fighters, and victims of Arab terror). This day is commemorated on the 4th of Iyar. This year, our nation will be crying for 24,068 beautiful men and women – most of them under 30 years old – who died al kiddush Hashem. On this day we will visit graves, stand during sirens (twice), answer Amen to many recitals of Kaddish, and will be sad, angry, and broken. In short, our nation will be sick.
The month of Iyar, however, does not allow one to be sick very long. By the next day – the 5th of Iyar – the tears of sadness turn into tears of recovery, redemption, and healing! Yom HaAtzmaut (Israel’s 74th Independence Day) turns the darkness into light, as the nation celebrates the amazing gift given to us by Hashem. To my knowledge, Israel is the only country in the world that celebrates its Independence Day just one day after its Memorial Day – but this is what Iyar is all about. The fact that these two days are connected underscores the “cost” of having a free, independent state. We first commemorate Yom HaZikaron, which highlights mourning and loss, yet immediately afterwards we jump into Yom HaAtzmaut, which celebrates healing and life. It’s Iyar at its best!
A little over a week later – on the 14th of Iyar – comes the next holiday of healing – Pesach Sheini. I call this day the holiday of second chances. If, for various reasons, a person was unable to bring the korban Pesach in Nisan, he gets a chance to bring it exactly one month later. Once again, it’s Iyar to the rescue.
Four days after Pesach Sheini comes another chance to heal. The 18th of Iyar is also known as Lag BaOmer, the day when 24,000 students of Rabbi Akiva stopped dying. Thus, the theme is repeated once again: sickness and death becoming healing and comfort.
Finally, it’s the 28th of Iyar that brings us the biggest healing of all. It’s the holiday of Yom Yerushalayim (Jerusalem Day), the day when Jerusalem was liberated and returned to the Jewish nation. In the 1948 War of Independence, Israeli soldiers and civilians courageously fought the enemy; yet they were defeated, and Jerusalem fell into Jordanian hands. Nineteen years later, in the month of Iyar, the healing process began, and Jerusalem, specifically Har HaBayis, returned to Jewish control.
Why is this the biggest healing? Because, to the Jewish Nation, the center of the universe is the Har HaBayis, and our purpose is to establish a state with the rebuilding of the Beis HaMikdash. Iyar has opened the door for that to happen. The beginning of the month saw us build the state and the end of the month saw us liberate the Temple Mount. There’s just one thing left for us to do, and we pray that the third and final Beis HaMikdash will be rebuilt very, very soon – and Iyar would be the perfect time!
Am Yisrael Chai!
Shmuel Sackett is a 100% product of Queens. He was born in Middle Village and moved to KGH shortly before his bar-mitzvah. He graduated from YCQ (1975) and YHSQ (1979). He was Havurat Yisrael’s first Youth Director (4 years) and started the first 2 NCSY chapters in Queens. Shmuel made aliyah in 1990 and co-founded Manhigut Yehudit, together with Moshe Feiglin. His website is www.JewishIsrael.org Sackett is married with 6 children and 4 grandchildren. He lives in Herziliya Pituach.