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April 24, 2020
30 Nisan 5780

Rosh Chodesh Iyar
15th day of the Omer
Parashat Tazria-Metzora
Leviticus 12:1 - 15:3

Dear Friends,

This Shabbat, we celebrate the month of Iyar -- a new moon, a new beginning. Reb Nachman, the Chasidic master who proclaimed that “life is but a narrow bridge, but the important thing is not to be afraid” also taught us to look at the letters of the word IYAR. He taught that the letters stand for the following phrase “ani adonai rofecha” -- “I am Adonai your healer.” With that in mind, Reb Nachman thought that this month would be a good time to harvest healing plants. Little did he know how prescient his teaching would be.

Iyar is the month entirely given to the counting of the Omer -- the time between Passover and Shavuot and the time between the Exodus and Sinai. It is a time of wandering in the wilderness and getting ready for a new beginning. How resonant that image is with all of us at this moment.

As we are wandering, this is a time to heal what ails us and to free ourselves from old habits, even as we struggle with new ones. Like our ancestors, we are currently journeying in previously unexplored territory. What is it that we can do in the time of healing ourselves so that we are prepared for the challenges ahead? We are taught that Iyar is a time when the earth in its springtime process of renewal not only gives strength to the earth but to us as well.

The first of Iyar is the 16th day of the Omer, gevurah shebetiferet, which can mean strength of balance. This strength is something that I believe each of us is seeking at this bottom. We are trying to regain our sense of balance even as we face unknown challenges ahead.

We are in a moment where we are able to pause and focus on the difference between what is in our control and what is not. When we look to the future, we will be best prepared if we take this pause to see what truly matters to each of us. The world has always been a dangerous unpredictable place; we have just been too busy to notice. It has always been the way in which each of us lives our lives that matters the most. Our actions make a difference. The word tiferet not only means balance, it also means beauty and compassion. May we all be blessed with compassion and the ability to see the beauty that surrounds us.

Shabbat Shalom,

Rabbi Linda Shriner-Cahn

Sat, September 19 2020 1 Tishrei 5781