Tuesday, May 13, 2014

#221 - The Month of IYAR

This post will be dedicated to writing about my birthmonth Iyar; and as it turns out, the name of this month is the Gematria of 221, the number of this post.

To note, the present names of our Hebrew months weren't always in existance as month names; for as we see at least in the Chumash (Penteteuch), the months of the Jewish calendar are referred to as the first month, second month, etc.  However, later on in the Tanach (Jewish Bible), we see a few of the months being given specific names, but even at that, some of these names are no longer used as a different name is used today.

One such example is our present month Iyar.  In the Tanach, in the context of noting when the first Beit HaMikdash (Temple) was first begun to be built, this month is called the name Ziv (II Kings 6:1), which means brightness. This word is spelled with the letters Zayin and Vav, making up the Gematria of 13, noting that today is the 13th day of Iyar.  (While in other contexts, one might see this word as spelled with the letter Yud in the middle, the correct spelling is how it is spelled in the Tanach; just as the word Chodesh which means month may be found to be spelled with the letter Vav, but throughout the Tanach, it is spelled without a Vav).

Now, while the focus in this post is on the name of this month as Iyar, I do want to expound a bit on the name Ziv that is given to this month.  You see, all the months of the Jewish calendar have corresponding tribes and corresponding letters.  With this said, the month of Iyar's corresponding Tribe is Yissaschar, which is the tribe that learned Torah all the time while being supported by his brother Zevulun, the tribe whose corresponding month is the next month Sivan.  Now, the corresponding letters for these two months of Iyar and Sivan are Vav and Zayin, respectively.  Noting this, the word/name Ziv consists of these very two letters, except that the Zayin preceeds the Vav, just as Zevulun preceeds Yissaschar in the blessings of Jacob and Moses; and the reason for this is because the learning of Yissaschar all day is made possible only by the support of Zevulun, and so even though Zevulun was the younger brother, he is mentioned before his older brother Yissaschar in the tribal blessings.  And so, while in fact, learning Torah is the greatest of all Mitzvot and the most important thing in this world (not to put down doing good deeds for others, which have to be done at times even at the expense of Torah learning, but it is Torah learning that has the greatest spiritual value) and this month of Iyar's corresponding tribe is the one who learned Torah all day, we see with the Biblical name of this month as Ziv that its letters remind us of the value of the one who supports Torah learning who has in equal share in the Torah learning of the one whom he is supporting, as demonstrated by its two letters in which the Zayin whose corresponding tribe Zevulun, via the month of Sivan, comes before the Vav whose corresponding tribe is Yissaschar.

The truth is, there are two versions of how the month Iyar is spelled.  In certain contexts, the name Iyar is spelled with only one Yud, and while technically, it may make more sense in terms of pronounciation, it seems that the prevelant spelling is with two Yuds, which is followed in Hala cha as mentioned in Hilchot Gittin (Laws of Jewish divorce - Shulchan Aruch Even HaEzer 126:23).  Accordingly, we see that in the conclusion of Chapter Six of Tehillim (Book of Psalms) - the first letters of the last four words Oyvai Yashuvu Yeivoshu Raga "My enemies will return ashamed in a moment" spell the word/name Iyar; noting that the letter Vav whose numerical value is six and the sixth letter is the corresponding letter of the month of Iyar.  And the other famous thing pertaining to the letters of the name of the month Iyar is that these letters are the first letters of the names Avraham-Yitzchak-Ya'akov-Rachel.

On this last point, there are a couple of questions that can be asked here: 1)What is the special connection between Iyar and the Avot (Patriarchs) along with Rachel, 2)What is the significance of Rachel of all the four Imahot (Matriarchs) being mentioned alongside with the Avot?

To answer this, we have to look at the spiritual accomplishments of these four, particular in terms of prayer. As is well known, the Avot - Avraham, Yitzchak, and Ya'akov - instituted the Shacharit (morning), Mincha (afternoon), and Arvit (evening) prayers, respectively.  But perhaps what is not so known is that it was Rachel who composed the prayer for Rosh Chodesh, as we see that her name is spelled as the first letters of the first three words of the middle blessing of the Shemoneh Esrei Mussaf prayer for Rosh Chodesh - Rashei Chadashim L'Amcha  "New Moons to Your people have You given..."

Aside from prayer, we see a common theme with the prayer compositions of these four is that their prayers are based on a specific time, whether it is the time of day or night, or the time of the month.  And it is the month of Iyar that is especially connected with the aspect of time, because it is the only month in which we count the Sephirat HaOmer, the days starting following the first day of Pesach (Passover) until Shavuot (Pentecost), every single day of the month.

To note, the Gematria of these four names - Avraham, Yitzchak, Ya'akov, Rachel - is 876.  And noting the etymology of the name of this month, or rather, the NAMES of this month - the wording of Iyar is based on the word Ohr (light) and the word Ziv means brightness.  So as you can see, there is a direct connection between the two names of this month, as per the obvious connection between the concepts of light and brightness. This is nice, but what is the connection between the number 876 as related to the names whose first letters spell the month of Iyar and what I just wrote here?  You see, this relates to the holiday of Chanukah, which is called Chag HaUrim "Festival of Lights", as this holiday began as a direct result of the resumption of lighting the Menorah in the Beit HaMikdash (Temple).  Now, among the main Mitzvot that the Syrian Greeks banned the Jews from performing was the Mitzva of Chodesh, observance of the New Month, which was the sanctification of the New Moon in the determination as to which day Rosh Chodesh was to be declared.  And the reason why this was one of the Mitzvot that the foreign nation picked on was because they knew that the observance of the Jewish holidays as to the date of their observance was dependent on this determination of Rosh Chodesh whether it would be declared on the 30th or 31st day of the previous month based on the sighting of the New Moon.  And as we see, Chanuka is the only holiday during which in the midst of it is Rosh Chodesh, which in our present calendar, is only one of two times in the year in which Rosh Chodesh (Tevet) can be either one or two days, which makes the month of Kislev either 29 or 30 days, respectively, reminding us of how Rosh Chodesh used to be determined.

Oh, for the above Gematria of 876, there are three fascinating things to write about this:

1)It is a composite of two numbers - 861, which is the Gematria of the name of Matisyahu, the one who started the revolution of the Jews fighting the Syrian Greeks which led to the holiday of Chanuka, as well as the Gematria of "Beit HaMikdash" in which religious freedom was restored with the lighting of the Menorah; and 15, which is the Gematria of the name of the Sephira - Hod, which we see corresponds to the Beit HaMikdash (Talmud Berachot 58a), as well as its corresponding holiday Chanuka, as mentioned in the writings of the Vilna Gaon.

2)It is a composite of the Gematria of two of the names of the tribes - Yissachar (830) whose corresponding month is our month Iyar, and Levi (46).  It is these two tribes who were most devoted to Torah learning

3)We can dissect this number as three distinct numbers.  The number eight (8) signifies the eight days of Chanuka, and the last two numbers seven (7) and six (6) are the very numerical values of the letters that spell the word Ziv, the Biblical name for this month of Iyar.

Within the last 2,000 years, the highlight of this month is Lag Ba'Omer, which celebrates the Yahrzeit of Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai (Rashbi), the author of the teachings of the Zohar.  It is surely no coincidence that his passing took place in this month of Iyar, for as we see, the name of the book containing his teachings means "shining".  Another way of looking at this is that both the first letters of the words/name Zohar and Ziv is the letter Zayin, and the last letters of the words/names Zohar and Iyar is the letter Reish. Moreover, the Gematria of the word Zohar is the same for the word Orah (212), the feminine wording for Ohr.  Another way of looking at this is that the word Orah consists of the word Ohr and the letter Hei=5, and as we see in the first day of creation which begins the Torah, the word Ohr is mentioned five times, and the first mention of the word Ohr is the 25th word of the Torah, which hints to the 25th of Kislev, the date that begins Chanukah.  Moreover, there is a prayer of praise called HaAderet V'HaEmuna which has mention of 22 stanzas each consisting of two words that begin a letter of the Aleph-Beit in order of the letters.  For the letter Zayin, the words are HaZiv V'HaZohar, hinting to the fact that Rashbi, the author of the teachings of the Zohar, passed away in the month called Ziv (Note: In some prayer books, it is worded a little differently as HaZach V'HaZohar).  As for Lag BaOmer itself, it is the date of Sephirat HaOmer whose corresponding Sephira combination is HOD She'B'HOD, the ultimate level of the Sephira of Hod that is related especially to Chanukah.

As a side note, having mentioned earlier about Rachel in terms of the month of Iyar, the corresponding tribe of Kislev, which includes the beginning of Chanuka, is Binyamin, the young son of Rachel.  Interestingly, it is Mordechai, as a parental descendant of Binyamin, who was responsible for the holiday of Purim.  And as we see in the Megilla (Esther 8:16), one of the four verses which are recited out loud by the congregation is LaYehudim Hayta ORAH V'Simcha V'Sasson V'Yekar  "For the Jews there was LIGHT, happiness, joy and honor", and as our rabbis tell us in the Talmudic tractate of Megilla, "Orah" refers to Torah.


If you see it in the Hebrew, the only difference between the words Orah and Torah is that Orah begins with the first letter Aleph and Torah begins with the last letter Tav, whose respective numerical values are one (1) and four hundred (400).  In reference to these numbers, I saw an amazing thing here only days ago in the Torah blog www.absolutetruth613.blogspot.com, along the lines that the nations of the world correspond to the sun while the Jews corresponds to the moon, it has been mentioned statistically that the Jews are 1/400th of the world population, or in other words, the ration of the world population to the Jews is 399:1. Amazingly, the size of the sun is 399 times the size of the moon.  And if this was not enough, the distance of the sun is 399 times further than the istance of the moon to the earth.  To more fully appreciate this, the light of the moon is a reflection of the sun's light.

With this said, it would seem that the opposite should be true.  You see, I mentioned that the difference between the words Orah and Torah pertains to their first letters where the letter Aleph (1) begins the word Orah.  Now, having mentioned that the Jews, who are 1/400th of the world population, correspond to the moon and that the moon's light is a reflection of the sun's light, it is the sun that is the source of the light and not the moon.  And yet, we see that the word Orah (light), as beginning with the letter Aleph=1 which reflects the Jewish population, seems to relate specifically to the moon, when ironically, it is the sun that is the source of the light where the moon gets its light from.

Perhaps an even greater question can be asked here.  If the raison d'etre of this world's existance is for people following what Hashem's says and wants, then how come Hashem didn't make everyone equal in terms of this, or at least a good percentage of the world population, aside from the Seven Noachide Commandments given to non-Jews?  In fact, it is a very small percentage of the world population who have been given the whole package of what Hashem wants from us.  Why should it be this way?

The truth is, we see that is how Hashem created this world to begin with.  For in fact, the total human population is far less than just about any species of creatures roaming the universe or the seas.  There are billions of certain creatures who have no soul, no commandments of G-d to follow, and yet, there are so many more of them than human beings.

Those who are in the business world, especially when it comes to business opportunities, well understand that it is in fact a small percentage of people who earn the vast majority of the money out there.  And in earlier times, before the modern day business model, we see that one who was wealthy typically had not one, but several servants to attend to his every need.

Indeed, what most perhaps shows the importance of the Torah and the observance of its Mitzvot in this context, is that Hashem created the world SOLELY for the few who would observe them.  It is everyone else, regardless of their spiritual level, whether good or evil, who are in this world merely to serve the few righteous ones, in all types of farming, construction, technology, etc. for this world to be fully functional for food, clothing, housing, transportation, etc. so the ones who are righteous don't have to spend all their time in physical survial for themselves, but rather, to spend a good portion of their time on spiritual pursuits.

As demonstrated with the letter Yud that represents the world to come, it also represents the righteous, being that the letter Yud is the smallest of all the letters, signifying that there would be relatively few righteous people, aside from the fact that it is this letter that begins' Hashem's main name as well as the name of the Jewish people, which are called by three names Ya'akov, Yisrael, and Yeshurun, all beginning with the letter Yud.  In fact, the very language Yiddish is based on the word Yid, which is etymologically related to the letter Yud, the numerical value of 10 and the 10th letter of the Aleph Beit.  For in fact, Hashem created the world with Ten Statements, as mentioned in the beginning of Chapter Five of Pirkei Avot (Ethics of the Fathers) and the very beginning of the Midrash called Yalkut Shimoni, where it is asked as to why Hashem couldn't simply create the world with one statement rather than with ten statements.  The answer is to pay back the wicked ones who destroy the world which was created with ten statements, and to give good reward to the righteous who uphold the world which was created with ten statements. This means that people are punished or rewarded ten times the punishment or reward they would have received had the world been created with only one statement, since the amount of ten statements shows how much more the creation of the King of kings means to Him, and thus, one is so much more liable or worthy based on how little or much the creation of Hashem means to oneself.

One more explanation pertaining to the concept of the Aleph representing the Jews and the Tav representing the non-Jews via these letters' numerical values showing the ratio of their respective ratio populations is that the letter Aleph represents the Alufo Shel Olam "Chief of the World", and it is the Jews who best represent Him, beginning with Abraham the first Jew, whose name begins with Aleph; as well as the name of Adam HaRishon, Who was created directly by Hashem, and whose name is used as a term to refer to the Jewish people; and in terms of serving Hashem in the Beit HaMikdash, it is the Cohanim who are the main ones, who are parentally descended from Aaron, the first Cohen Gadol (High Priest), whose name begins with an Aleph, and whose son Elazar, who's name also begins with Aleph, became the next Cohen Gadol while still during the lifetime of Aaron's brother Moses.

In sharp contrast, the letter Tav begins the word Tachton (below) for the ones who don't observe Hashem's commandments, which are most of the non-Jews (with the exception of the few righteous non-Jews who observe the Seven Noachide Commandments) who are spiritual below, which includes a second Tav, which is based on the word Tachat which begins and ends with Tav; as well as the word Tehom (deep), which is used at times in reference to Gehinnom (Hell or Purgatory) for the wicked people who are indeed the biggest low-lifes, even lower than the ugliest, creepy creatures that Hashem created who aren't commanded or expected to observe any of Hashem's commandments.

And as far as the word Torah beginning with a Tav, the letter which especially relates to the non-Jews as per the above, the truth is that before Hashem offered the Torah to the Jews, He offered it first to the rest of the world.  Of course Hashem knew beforehand that none of the nations wished to receive it, but He didn't want anyone else complaining later that He didn't even give them a chance or that they would have claimed that had He offered it to them, they would have accepted it.  But the fact that Hashem offered it to them to begin with shows that in fact, they had the potential of being able to observe the Torah, if they would have just been willing to conquer their base desires and temptations to properly observe the Torah, and for this, Hashem could have had them go through a purification process, just as the Jews did to receive the Torah. True, even some of the Jews even after the Torah was given fell into temptation; in fact, it was hardly 40 days after the event of the Giving of the Torah that some succumbed to worshipping the Golden Calf. However, at least on a national level, the Jews overall were willing to accept the Torah, and hence, this was enough for them to be able to receive the Torah.


Just as the Torah, at least in the Chumash, calls the month of Iyar as the "second month"; so too, there is an observance of offering the Korban Pesach (Pascal sacrifice) a month later after the one offered on Passover eve for those who weren't able or didn't offer it the first time, which is held on the 14th of Iyar, called Pesach Sheni "Second Passover" (though it used to be in Talmudic times that it was Pesach Katan "Little Passover") when the Korban was slaughtered and then was eaten on the night of the 15th of Iyar.  

I will focus more on the "second" aspect as per this in my following post; but for today, I want to discuss the Sephirah count and combination for the date of Pesach Sheni, which in our present calendar, it always coincides with the 29th day of Sephirat HaOmer, whose corresponding Sephirah combination is Chesed She'B'Hod (Kindness within Glory). The reason I word it like this is because in earlier times when Rosh Chodesh was observed based on the sighting of the moon, it could happen that the month of Nissan would have only 29 days; and hence, the 29th day of Sephirat HaOmer would fall out on 15 Iyar, rather than on 14 Iyar; but even then, this Sephira date and combination still had a connection to Pesach Sheni, because it was on the night of 15 Iyar (Noting that we count the Sephira to begin with at night) that the Korban of Pesach Sheni was eaten.  Aside from this, the Gematria of Hod is 15, so whatever Sephira count it was on 15 Iyar, it always included the Sephira of Hod.

Anyways, as per the "Second Pesach" during the "Second Month", the connection with the 29th day of the Sephira is significant being that this event takes place around the middle of the month or with the full moon, and at least in our present calendar, there are always 29 days in the month of Iyar.  As per the Sephira combination of Chesed She'B'Hod that relates to Pesach Sheni, we see a phenomenal thing.  On each day of Passover, there is a Torah reading that relates to Passover, each in a different place in the Torah.  Anyways, on the sixth day of Passover, which is the fifth day of Sephirat HaOmer, the Torah portion about Pesach Sheni (Numbers 9:1-14) is always read.  But the phenomenal thing here is that the Sephira combination is Hod She'B'Chesed (Glory within Kindness), USING THE SAME SEPHIROT, BUT JUST IN REVERSE ORDER!  Certainly, this is no coincidence, as I will now demonstrate.

Reading about Pesach Sheni in the Torah during Passover is the aspect of Hod, this word which is etymologically related to the wording of giving thanks, such as Todah, for the fact that Hashem gave this Mitzva of Pesach Sheni for those who weren't able to bring the Korban Pesach on Passover eve, even though it is a month later, is a great kindness from Hashem for these people that they shouldn't be left out from doing this Mitzva.  Part of this is the fact that when in the following year following the Exodus, the command was given to perform the Korban Pesach, there were some Jews who were impure due to contact with the dead, in which case, it is forbidden to bring a sacrifice in such an impure state, and tahus were not able to bring the Korban Pesach on time.  But instead of saying that it wasn't their fault, they'll offer the Korban Pesach next year, etc., the fact that they would not be able to participate in the Mitzva of Korban Pesach like most of the other Jews bothered them enough to ask Moses to ask Hashem if there was something that could be done for them.  It was in reply to these good Jews that Hashem gave the Mitzvot of Pesach Sheni.  Hence, when we read this in the Sefer Torah during Passover, it is in essence giving THANKS to Hashem for the great KINDNESS of granting a special Mitzva to those who weren't able to perform the earlier Mitzva of the regular Korban Pesach on Passover eve, the aspect of Hod She'B'Chesed, the Sephira combination of the day on which we read about this.

Conversely, it is on Pesach Sheni itself that the Mitzva or Mitzvot of the day are performed as Hashem's great KINDNESS (Chesed) to the ones who weren't able to perform the Mitzva of Korban Pesach earlier that we read about earlier during Passover, as reading about Hashem's kindnesses is a form of GIVING THANKS (Hod) to Hashem, the aspect of Chesed She'B'Hod, the Sephira combination of the day of Pesach Sheni, which in our present calendar, is always on 14 Iyar.

Now, noting the connection of the Sephira combination of Chesed She'B'Hod with the 29th day of Sephirat HaOmer, the Hebrew number for 29 is Kaf-Teit, the first letters of the word Ki Tov "for it is good", a refrain mentioned in the Creation of the world.  It is also part of a Pasuk (verse) that is mentioned several times in Tehillim (Book of Psalms) - Hodu LaHashem Ki Tov Ki L'Olam Chasdo  "Give thanks to Hashem for He is good, for His kindness is forever".  As we see in this verse, the first word is Hodu "Give thanks", which is either at times spelled with a Vav between the Hei and the Dalet, thus the first three letters spelling the word Hod, or at other times when there is no Vav between the Hei and the Dalet, but it does end off with a Vav, thus the word Hodu having the same letters as Hod; and the last word is Chasdo "His Kindness".  Among the number of times of the mention of this verse in Tehillim, it is both the first and last verse - the 29th verse - of Psalm 118, the last of six consecutive psalms that make up the Hallel prayer.  In fact, this is the only chapter in the entire Tehillim that begins and ends with the same verse, ending as the 29th verse in which the phrase Ki Tov, whose first letters spells the Hebrew number 29 in the verse that mentions the concepts of the Sephirot Hod and Chesed.  Coincidence?

But just when you thought this was it, let us take a look at the names of the letters Kaf and Teit.  The word Kaf is spelled Kaf (20) and Phei Sophit (80), totalling the sum as 100, and the word Teit is spelled Teit (9), Yud (10), and Tav/Sav (400), totalling the sum as 419.  As we know, we recite at least 100 Berachot (blessings) a day, which is an aspect of giving thanks to Hashem, and the 419th Mitzva of the Torah, and as mentioned in the first paragraph of the Shema, is to love Hashem, which is partly motivated by realizing all the kindnesses that Hashem has done for us, so it should only be natural for us - howbeit having in mind to do so as a Mitzva - to love Hashem, just as we love someone who has done kindnesses for us.  In fact, the Sephira of Chesed is represented especially by Abraham, who by the way, is especially represented by the holiday of Pesach, which is the week of Chesed in terms of the Sephira combinations, and it is Abraham who is called in the Tanach as Avraham Ohavi, which can be translated either as Abraham who love Me, or as per his activites, the one who caused Hashem to be loved by others whom Abraham brought close to the wings of the Shechina (Divine Presence) especially by performing Hachnasat Orchim, inviting guests to his free steak meals in the midst of the desert, so long as they would thank Hashem afterwards for what they had just eaten.

And in terms of the Sephira combinations corresponding to the timing of the year in the Jewish calendar beginning from Hashana, this falls out around the week of Pesach, hence showing the clear connection between Pesach the holiday which begins its festivities with the Korban Pesach shortly before the holiday actually starts, and Pesach Sheni.  For indeed, Pesach most represents the aspect of Chesed from Abraham's activities to Hashem taking us out of Egypt, even though some of the Jews were hardly spiritually prepared to be redeemed; and so, one year later, Hashem continued His kindness to us by giving a Mitzva opportunity to those who were earlier spiritually unprepared, howbeit in a different way by having impurity as per contact with the dead.

Now, one more Gematria that will solidify one of the above concepts.  The Gematria of the phrase Hod She'B'Chesed or Chesed She'B'Hod is 389, and the Hebrew number for this consists of the letters Shin-Pei-Teit.  Now, if we reverse these letters, they begin the words as Tahor (pure) - Pesach Sheni, for while there were a number of reasons why the Pesach Sheni sacrifice was offered if the Korban Pesach wasn't offered, the reason that brought Hashem to give this Mitzva to the Jewish people to begin with were the ones who were spiritually impure from contact with the dead, who badly wanted to do the Mitzva of Korban Pesach, but were forbidden to do so because of their impure condition.  In fact, among other reasons for bringing the Pesach Sheni offering was if someone was too far away on Passover eve, which was also considered a reason beyond one's control; however, the only ones who were actually forbidden to offer the Korban Pesach were the ones who were impure; and so, while they may have missed the deadline as per their week long wait to get rid of the contact of the dead impurity, they now had another opportunity to bring the Korban Pesach one month later now as being TAHOR, and then and only then could they bring the offering on PESACH SHENI.

13 Iyar, 5774

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