Barley, Symbol of Iyyar

Barley Field in Autumn by Nick Page (nicksie2008) used by CC-A Permissions
Barley By Dag Endresen Dag Terje Filip Endresen used by CC-A Permissions
Barley By Dag Endresen Dag Terje Filip Endresen used by CC-A Permissions

I’m not sure there can be a more potent symbol of the month of Iyyar, which generally falls between April and May, than barley (שְׂעֹרָה). Many of us are disconnected from the agricultural cycles of our world, and especially disconnected from the agricultural cycles that part of Jewish tradition.  But in the ancient world, and for a few of us moderns, Passover is the beginning of the barley harvest.  Pesach, when we clean out our cupboards of barley and all other grains and refrain from eating chametz (fermented grain) is really a time of sacrifice and cleansing before the new harvest begins on the second day of Passover.  The period called “the counting of the omer,” which begins on the second day of Passover was literally a time of counting the barley harvest in ancient Judea. An “omer” was simply a measure of barley.

Over on PunkTorah, I’ll talk more about the whole “counting of the omer,” but here we’re going to talk about barley (including yummy recipes)!

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Iyyar: Healing and Growth

iyyarWordCloud-1024x643

Iyyar (אִייָר), according to tradition, is an acronym for Ani Adonai Rofecha, “I am G-d your Healer (Exodus 15:26) generally falls between the months of April and May.  According to Inner.org, “Isaachar is the scholarly tribe [associated with Iyyar].  Iyyar is the month of introspection for self-improvement.” This beautifully describes the modern approach to counting the omer.  It is a time to explore our relationship to ourselves and the world, and can be a time for deep spiritual healing.  There are two phases to the healing of Iyyar. The month, according to the system developed by Rabbi Jill Hammer in the Jewish Book of Days, moves from the elements of Earth within Air to Water within Fire.  This is also reflected in the kabbalistic system associated with the counting of the omer during the month of Iyyar.

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