Thursday, May 1, 2014

The Month of Iyyar: A Time to Heal

Likutey Moharan I, 277

Translated by Rabbi Avraham Greenbaum

From The Wings of the Sun:

Traditional Jewish Healing in Theory and Practice

All medicines come from the earth. Therefore during the season when the earth gives forth her bounty and puts strength into all the trees and plants, i.e., during the month of Iyyar when the fruits ripen, all medicinal plants have greater power, because the earth then puts strength into them. However at other times, even if one were to take exactly the same medicines, they would not have the same power. This is why people take medicines in the month of Iyyar (May).

The principal location is the Land of Israel, because all the different countries receive from the residue of the Land of Israel (Ta’anit 10a). The Land of Israel has two aspects: sometimes it is called the ”Land of Canaan,” at other times it is simply called “the Land.” At times of conflict it is called the Land of Canaan. The name Canaan implies KaN ‘ANI, “here is a poor person,” as the Rabbis commented on the verse (Zechariah 14:21): “And on that day there will no longer be any Canaanite in the house of God”—”there is no one poor here.” Canaan thus implies “here is a poor person.” The reason is because of conflict, for “one controversy destroys a hundred livelihoods (see Sh’ney Luchot HaBrit 142a). Thus the Torah tells us that “there was strife between the shepherds of Abram’s cattle and the shepherds of Lot’s cattle,” and immediately afterwards it is written: “the Canaanite... then lived in the land” (Genesis 13:7). It was because of the strife and conflict that the “Canaanite” was present, and the land is then called the Land of Canaan.

But when there is peace it is simply called the Land, and then “the land gives her bounty” (Psalms 67:7), i.e., the earth gives her power to all the fruits of the land, and all the medicinal plants and herbs have strength. For this reason the Hebrew letters making up the name of the month of Iyyar (אייר ) are the initial letters of the words א’יבי י’שבו י’בשו ר’גע  (Oyvai Yoshuvu Yeivoshu Roga), “my enemies will turn back, they will be ashamed suddenly” (ibid. 6:11). For this is the season for all the medicines, which are bound up with the concept of peace—”the land gives her bounty”—the opposite of conflict, which is the concept of the Land of Canaan.

The letters making up the name of איר , Iyyar, are also the initial letters in the verse א’ני י’ ר’ופאך  (Ani YHVH Rof’ekha), “I am HaShem your healer” (Exodus 15:26).

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