Chodesh Tov!! The month of Iyar is known as the second month of the Hebrew year, it is a month where the sun is at its full radiance as it is said that the generation that left Egypt became radiant during this month, for they were healed of their blemishes as they prepared themselves to receive the Torah. On this month we count the Sefirat Haomer (Menachot 66a), where we also have a custom to not listen to music, have weddings or hair cuts during this 49 day period.
The month of Iyar always consists of 29 days. Many biblical memories occurred during this month. Rosh Chodesh Iyar marks the day when the Jews had left Egypt and were encamped in ‘Marah,’ there were bitter waters that were miraculously transferred into sweet, fresh water, suitable for drinking, this story is related in Parshat Beshalach (Shemot 15:22/27). It was also on this day, Hashem gave the Jews some of the laws of the Torah, including; the laws of Shabbat, the Red Cow (featured in parshat Chukat) and lessons on Civil law (related in parshat Mishpatim)(Shabbat 87).
It was on the 1st of Iyar, in the second year after the Jews left Egypt, that the children of Israel were counted for the first time (Bamidbar 1:20/46). This census was conducted by Aaron, Moshe and the heads of the 12 tribes. (as related in parshat Bamidbar). This Census proved that their lineage was pure, that was in the merit of why they received the Torah.
The 1st of Iyar is also the anniversary of the building of the First and Second Temples.
The 5th of Iyar is the date that the dominion of the Jewish people returned to part of the promised land of Israel in the Hebrew year 5708 (English year 1948).
The 14th of Iyar is referred to as ‘Pesach Sheni,’ (The Second Pesach). When the Temple stood, all those that were unable to bring the Pesach sacrifice at the prescribed time of 14th Nisan were given another chance on 14th Iyar. (This is related in Parshat Behalotacha). The 14th Iyar is not a festival or a holiday, however, the day – during the period when the Temple stood – was a time of rejoicing and happiness for those who fulfilled the obligation to bring the Pesach offering. The Pesach sacrifice is stated to be the most important sacrifice (Zevachim 11a Rashi).
In the Tanach, it is related in the book of ‘Chronicles,’ that the majority of people were ritually impure during the 14th Nisan and the Pesach sacrifice had to be postponed (as an impure person cant participate in the sacrifice), so it was postponed to the 14th Iyar (Pesach Sheini (Pesachim 93)) and this took place while the King was Chizkiyahu (Chronicles II: 29). He actually purified the Temple and all its components after his father, King Achaz had defiled the Temple during his reign.
The 18th of Iyar was a great day, known as Lag Ba-Omer (33rd day of Omer count), Israel established this day as a day of celebration in the midst of the days of mourning and travail that precede it and follow it. It is customary to have weddings take place on this day. It is a festival with dancing, music, and bonfires in honour of the divinely inspired Tanna, Rav Shimon Bar Yochai. The work that this great Sage taught his students is described in the holy Zohar, a work filled with the secrets of the Torah and which contains a wisdom that is not easily accessible. It was also on this date that the plague of the death of Rav Akiva’s students actually stopped. It is customary during Lag Ba-Omer to give a first haircut to little boys who reached the age of 3.
The 20th of Iyar, during the second year after leaving Egypt, the Jews travelled for the first time after learning the Torah at Mount Sinai, where the clouds of Glory had accompanied them. While travelling in the desert the Jews would travel in four different camps, featuring three tribes in each, carrying all the components of the Tabernacle (Bamidbar 1:52 - 2:34). Actually the components were mainly carried by the three different Levite families of Gershon, Kehat and Merari (Bamidbar 3:17).
These are just brief highlights of the events that occurred during this month in Jewish history. I would like to dedicate this Dvar Torah to my friend who passed away four years ago in a car accident during this month, his Hebrew name is Benyamin Ben Mordechai (Ben Bernstein), may his soul be resting in peace. This man really influenced many people for the better and is missed big time. Dvar Torah by Michael Zaroovabeli.