The State of Israel was established on the fifth day of the month of Iyar, 5708 (1948), when members of the people’s council signed what has come to be known as a scroll of independence. On this day, the Holy Land, promised by God to the Jewish people, was restored to Jewish sovereignty for the first time in nearly two thousand years. The fifth of Iyar is therefore known as Israel Independence Day (Yom Ha'atzmaut).
As momentous as this event was, the new country was devoid of its heart: ancient Jerusalem, the historic site of the Holy Temple and the focus of the Jewish people's life and prayers.
Then, 19 years later, on the 28th day of the same month, ancient Jerusalem was liberated from the Arabs in what came to be known as the Six-Day War (1967). On that day, the holiest city on earth was reunited under Jewish sovereignty. To quote the words of Psalms (122:3), "the city became joined together." The 28th of Iyar is thus known as Jerusalem Day (Yom Yerushalayim).
Yet, despite these miraculous events, the modern State of Israel seems to be entangled in a deteriorating maze of crises. Terror and war threaten it on all sides. The custodians of the state daily surrender the Jewish people's rights to the land, relinquishing vital, strategic areas to sworn enemies, while trampling on the principles most sacred to the Jewish people throughout the generations. The country is plagued by social and cultural rifts dividing Jews along political, religious, and sociological lines, and is morally weakened by a spent nationalist ideology that can no longer inspire its sons and daughters. It is now clear to all that, although millions of Jews have returned to the Promised Land and physically rebuilt it, the State of Israel is very far from fulfilling the Jewish vision of the true and complete redemption.
Nonetheless, as the sages reveal, “The Almighty always provides the cure before inflicting a wound.”1 God has provided the potential to rectify this seemingly hopeless situation. If we examine the workings of Divine Providence, we can discern the cure in the circumstances surrounding the establishment of the state and the liberation of Jerusalem.
It is surely Divine Providence that the two most outstanding events in the relatively short history of modern Israel—it’s declaration of Independence and conquest of Jerusalem—both occurred in the month of Iyar. To fully appreciate the significance of this, we must turn to the Torah, God's plan of creation.
Let’s first consider the name of the month, for God creates everything—both tangible entities and temporal or spiritual phenomena—through its Hebrew name.
The month’s common name, Iyar (אִיָר ) is related to the word “light” (אוֹר ). In fact, even though the name Iyar does not appear in the Bible, there is one explicit reference to it2 under the name Ziv, which literally means “radiance.”
In Kabbalah, the word Iyar is interpreted as an acronym for the Hebrew phrase, “I am God your healer”3 (אֲנִי י־הוה רֹפְאֶךָ ). Thus, the month of Iyar is understood to be the month of Divine healing power—healing with light. This is in accordance with the way of the Ba'al Shem Tov—not to attack darkness directly, head on, but rather to disarm it with light: “a little light dispels much darkness.”
Why is healing with light particularly relevant to the situation in Israel today? To appreciate this, let us examine the unique place the month of Iyar occupies in the Torah's scheme of time.
In the Torah, only one holiday falls in the month of Iyar: the festival of the Second Passover (Pesach Sheini) on the 14th day of the month. Normally, the Torah tells us to celebrate Passover on the 14th day of Nisan, the month before Iyar. But a person ritually impure or too far away from the Temple on the fourteenth of Nisan—and therefore unable to celebrate Passover by bringing a sacrifice to the Temple on that day—has another chance, the Second Passover.
Although the Jewish year begins in the month of Tishrei, the months are counted from Nisan. Iyar is thus the second month both in the ordinal sense and inasmuch as it is the month in which one is given a second chance.
Every holiday in the Jewish calendar teaches us a basic lesson on how to fulfill our purpose in life, how to serve God maximally the whole year. The message of the Second Passover—and thus, the general message of the month of Iyar—is that it is never too late. No matter what situation we find ourselves in, no matter how low we have fallen, no matter how impure we may feel or how far away from our life’s goal we are, we can always, with God's help, rectify our situation.
And so it is with regard to the State of Israel. The fact that it was founded and its wars were fought and won in the month of Iyar teaches us that we must not despair. The power of light can overcome the darkness; it is never too late to rectify the situation.