5 Iyar 5766
A Deeper Level of Listening
by Rabbi Shlomo Borinstein
It’s not by chance, of course, that there are twelve months of the year and twelve Shevatim. Avraham Avinu, in his Sefer Yetzira, already points this out and the greatest meforshim throughout the generations have tried to explain the connection between each month and it’s corresponding sheivet.
If we start the year with chodesh Nissan and we line up the shevatim according to their births then chodesh Iyar corresponds to sheivat Shimon. Leah named her son because “Hashem heard that I am hated”. Shimon comes from the word to hear. What does hearing have to do with chodesh Iyar? What are we suppose to hear this month more than any other month?
Hearing is different than seeing. When a person sees something he immediately begins to analyze the sight and tries to gain an understanding of what he’s viewing. Since he sees it he believes it is real (Seeing is believing) but exactly what it is might be difficult to ascertain. He only sees the external and therefore there’s only so much his mind can take in to build an accurate picture of this sight. A person may make a first impression based on sight only to have in change radically as he gets to know it better.
Hearing, however, allows us to gain a much greater understanding of what we’re analyzing. The Maharal writes that a person’s ears are the opening into the person similar to a door of a house. Since sounds enter deeper into the person this allows for a deeper understanding. Through analyzation of what’s being heard a completely new picture, or at least a clearer picture, may evolve than that which originally appeared only through sight.
Torah Sh’Bichsav is written and we must learn it with our eyes. But if a person just has Torah Sh’Bichsav, just what he sees, the Torah will be a confusing maze to him, not understanding what Hashem wants from him. The Torah says to observe Shabbos, but what is it? What do tefillin look like and how do I know if my esrog is kosher or not? None of these answers will be found just looking at the pesukim. We certainly need Torah Sh’Bicsav because it is the foundation for all the understanding of the Torah. But it alone is not enough.
Torah Sh’Baal Peh is to be transmitted from mouth to ears, from Rebbi to talmid. The talmid will now be able to hear what Torah Sh’Bicsav is all about and gain a fuller understanding of what our avodah is in this world. He’ll listen to his Rebbi’s explanations of the pesukim and new depths will be reached than had he just looked at them himself. Through hearing he will develop into a new person.
Chodesh Nissan corresponds to Shevet Reuven, or rieeah, seeing. In Mitzraim the Jews saw the makos and began their understanding of Hashem. But this was only a beginning. It was enough of an understanding to get them out of Mitzraim but much more was expected of them. During chodesh Iyar Klal Yisrael worked at gaining as great of an understanding of Hashem as possible until they final reach Sinai, Rosh Chodesh Sivan.
Iyar is the month of deeper understanding. The bulk of sefiras ha’omer is during this month. It’s a time to listen to what’s going on around us and to connect to Hashem, each person according to his ability. In Lashon haKodesh the word for thing is davar, which comes from the word speak. Everything in this world is speaking and it’s up to us to listen and understand what it’s saying.
Let’s make this Iyar the month of connecting with Hashem so that this Sivan will be a new kabalos ha’Torah and we’ll finally see the coming of mashiach, bimhaira b’yameinu.