Iyar Real growth takes time and effort.

posted in: HebrewMonths, Iyar | 0

There is a mitzvah to count the days and weeks from Passover that lead up to the holiday of Shavuot. This is called Sefirat HaOmer. Because Iyar is between Passover and Shavuot, every single day of Iyar is part of this mitzvah. That fact defines one of the main influences of the month.

This influence is a character trait that our forefather Isaac exemplified. If you look at Isaac’s life you see major events that happened first to Abraham, and were merely repeated by Isaac. His wife had trouble getting pregnant just like Abraham’s wife. He redug wells that Abraham had dug. He had to pretend his wife was his sister at one point just like Abraham had done. He doesn’t seem to be living his own life. The commentaries even say that he looked like a younger identical twin to Abraham. Where is Isaac’s individuality?

The answer is, Abraham was an individual who fought against his entire society. That was his mission in life. He taught monotheism to idolaters. He developed a philosophy and a system of morality for the world. Those qualities of independence, courage, and entrepreneurial spirit were crucial as one of the three pillars that laid the foundation for Judaism. Abraham’s son, however, would need a different personality. He would need the ability to continue the movement that had been started. It takes a special talent to start something new; it takes another ability to carry on, to be force of stability and consistency. Isaac embodied the latter.

To count every day of the Omer period is a symbol of consistency. Slowly but surely the period of 49 days is counted one day at a time. Like a bull plows a field slowly, methodically yet with the strength to plow and plow. Note well that Taurus, the bull, is the constellation of Iyar. This bull also symbolizes Joseph, as indicated by Kabbalah. (see Gen. 49:22 and Deut. 33:17) One quality of Joseph is that he was a conduit between the Fathers, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and the twelve tribes. Just like Isaac was a bridge between Abraham and Jacob. Similarly, Iyar is the connector between Passover and Shavuot. As in a relay race the new baton carrier isn’t supposed to go in a new direction, their job is to continue where the runner before left off and go in the same direction.

But it’s important that this period of spiritual growth is slow and steady. To jump the gun or move too fast with spiritual growth is often the cause of someone’s downfall. As it says in the Talmud, “If you take too much, you take not at all.” Joseph told his brothers his prophetic dreams of being their leader as if to get them to submit before his time. Because he spoke too soon, his dreams were delayed from being fulfilled. Also, while in jail in Egypt he tried to speed up his release by asking a jailmate who was being released to speak on his behalf. For this his sentence was extended by G-d. He needed to learn this lesson, be patient, trust G-d, take it slow.

Real growth takes time and effort.

We all would like to be holy, but we want it to happen overnight. That’s not how it works. It takes time. It takes effort. It takes consistency. It takes step by step, day by day accomplishments that lead us up the ladder. Iyar is the month to develop that quality in us.

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