Rosh Chodesh ‘Iyar’

Today is ‘Rosh Chodesh’ {ראש חודש}  (‘head of the month’ in Hebrew, meaning the beginning of the month) of the Hebrew month of ‘Iyar’ {אייר} which is the second month of the year according to the Torah counting (the first was last month – ‘Nissan’ {ניסן}).

The name ‘Iyar,’ {אייר} similar to all the names of the months in the Hebrew calendar today, originated in Babylon and was ‘imported’ after the return from the Babylonian captivity. The meaning of the name ‘Iyar’ is ‘light’ in the ancient language Akkadian.

Prior to the destruction of the First Temple in Jerusalem, the months had different names – in original Hebrew. We do not know today all of the original Hebrew names, but we do know that the month of ‘Iyar’ was actually called in the Hebrew Bible ‘Ziv’ {זיו} or ‘Yerach Ziv’ {ירח זיו} (which is ‘the month of Ziv’) which means ‘light’ or ‘glow’.

The Tabernacle

The Bible tells us about two events that took place on this very day according to the biblical calendar – the census of the people of Israel in the desert:
“The LORD spoke to Moses in the wilderness of Sinai, in the tent of meeting, on the FIRST DAY OF THE SECOND MONTH, in the second year after they had come out of the land of Egypt, saying, “Take a census of all the congregation of the people of Israel…” (Numbers 1:2-3)

And the beginning of the construction of King Solomon’s Temple in Jerusalem:
“In the four hundred and eightieth year after the people of Israel came out of the land of Egypt, in the fourth year of Solomon’s reign over Israel, IN THE MONTH OF ZIV, which is THE SECOND MONTH, he began to build the house of the LORD.” (1 Kings 6:1)

In the official calendar of the State of Israel, this month is a very eventful one. Later on this week, we will celebrate Israel Independence Day (5th of ‘Iyar’) and the 28th of this month is ‘Jerusalem Day’ which is a national holiday which commemorates the reunification of Jerusalem after the Six Day War (1967).

It is customary to greet other people today using the Hebrew phrase ‘Chodesh Tov’ {חודש טוב} which means ‘I wish you a good month!’

‘Chodesh Tov’ from Jerusalem everyone!