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Rosh Chodesh Iyar: Kavanot

We derive the appellation for God’s Name, used in the Rosh Chodesh Mussaf – Additional Prayer – for Rosh Chodesh Iyar from the combination of letters and vowels of the following verse:

“Thus said God, “Let not the wise man glorify himself with his wisdom, and let not the strong man glorify himself with his strength, let not the rich man glorify himself with his wealth. For only with this may one glorify himself – contemplating and knowing Me – Yithallel Hamithallel Haskel V’yado’a – Y-H-H-V – for I am God, Who does kindness, justice and righteousness in the land, for in these is My desire,” – the word of God.” (Jeremiah 9:22-23)

I. Preparation for Shavuot – Revelation

Many people recognize, acknowledge and/or believe that there is a Creator, what the Midrash describes as the Master of the Palace. Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, did something no one else had done; they dedicated their lives to finding the Creator, God: “Contemplating and knowing Me.” They used His ways, “kindness, justice and righteousness,” to serve Him, so that they could find Him. Each achieved a certain level of Revelation.

The Omer, with its 49 steps, is our way of copying the Patriarchs, so that we too can “find” God and be prepared for Revelation. We focus during this month on “contemplating and knowing” God to prepare for the Revelation of Shavuot.

We pray on Rosh Chodesh for God to help us avoid the distractions of wisdom, strength and wealth, so that we can use this month to contemplate and know God.

II. Connecting Our Gifts To God

“Teach us our Rabbi: How many gifts were created in the world? Our Rabbis taught: The Holy One, Blessed is He, created three gifts in the world: Wisdom, valor and wealth. Should a man attain one of these, he has taken that which is most desirable on earth. If he merits wisdom, he has merited everything. When is this true? When they are gifts of Heaven and come from the power and strength of the Holy One, Blessed is He. But, if they come from the strength and wealth of man, they are worthless. For King Solomon said, “I returned and saw beneath the sun that the race does not belong to the swift, nor the battle to the mighty; neither do the wise have bread, nor do the men of understanding have riches, nor do the knowledgeable have favor.” (Ecclesiastes 9:11” And so said Jeremiah, “Let not the wise…” (Tanchuma, Mattot #5)

We use the month of Iyar, as if we were among the Children of Israel making our way from the servitude of Egypt to the Revelation at Sinai. God made it clear to them with the Manna, Miriam’s Well, or the water from the rock, and His teachings, that all three gifts come only from God.

We focus on our gifts of Wisdom, strength and wealth during this month, recognizing that they are gifts from God. We have extra Kavana – awareness – when reciting blessings over food, “wealth,” blessings over Torah, “Wisdom,” and the morning blessings, “Hanotain laya’ef koach,” Who Gives Strength to the Weary, “Strength.” We make special acknowledgments of these gifts during this month, by giving more to charity, and by celebrating new wisdom and insights and successful use of our strengths with action, such as using our “Thank You Machines.”

III. Offerings

The Mitzvah to bring offerings in the Beit Hamikdash is the fulfillment of “For only with this may one glorify himself – contemplating and knowing Me.” (Zohar, Behar, R”M 110a)

We pray on Rosh Chodesh that everything we do during this month in our Service of God be considered as an offering to Him.

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