Iyyar and the Wilderness

Image: A wild landscape with hills, rivers, and greenery. (skeeze/pixabay)

 

I like to visualize the Jewish Year as a physical journey. The calendar walks us through the events of Jewish memory, and every year, new insights await as I learn new things and as my perspective changes.

During Passover, we relived the events of the Exodus: slavery in Egypt, the fearful night of the Passover, the mad dash to the Red Sea, and deliverance into the wilderness. We began counting the Omer. We count up the time until we will arrive at Shavuot, where the memory of Sinai awaits us.

On the way, there’s some interesting scenery. Remember, this is the wilderness we’re walking through, so perhaps it is a perfect time to remember great and terrible events in our modern history. Last week we observed Yom HaShoah v’HaGevurah (The Day of Shoah and the Heroism.) It is a terrifying thing to see on our road from Freedom to Responsibility (Passover to Shavuot) but it is necessary if we want to truly commit to Sinai yet again with our eyes open.

Yesterday and today are Rosh Chodesh Iyyar. We have left the month of Nisan behind, and entered the month that falls between Passover and Shavuot. Iyyar is a wilderness of a month, brimming with minor holidays most people never learn. It is spring past the first blush, making a run towards summer.

This week we observe Yom HaZikaron and Yom Ha’atzmaut, from sundown Tuesday to sundown Thursday. On Yom HaZikaron (Memorial Day) we remember all those who have died in the defense of Israel, and those who died in terror attacks. Then, at sundown Wednesday, sorrow transforms to joy when we celebrate the 70th anniversary of the founding of the State of Israel and Yom Ha’atzmaut (Independence Day.)  Again, we remember death and sorrow; but this time there is also the modern State of Israel to celebrate and consider.

So that’s the scenery on our journey from chag to chag, from Passover to Shavuot.  What do you see as you travel along the road? Have you any insights to share?

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rabbiadar

Rabbi Ruth Adar is a teaching rabbi based in San Leandro, CA. She has many hats: rabbi, mom, poodle groomer, and ham radio operator K6RAV. She blogs at https://coffeeshoprabbi.com/ as the Coffee Shop Rabbi.

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