Rosh Chodesh Iyar begins Motzai Shabbat, Saturday night, the 14th of April and lasts for two days.
The period known as The Omer occurs during this month. During part of The Omer, we commemorate thousands of Rabbi Akiva’s students who died in a plague. The Talmud teaches that the plague occurred because the students did not treat each other with proper respect.
This month, we focus on treating others well and enhancing our relationship with them.
Our relationships play a pivotal role in either enhancing or negatively affecting our emotional, physical and spiritual health; toxic relationships drain us, while healthy relationships nourish us.
Make a list of your key family, work and social relationships. Decide which ones to strengthen or repair, which ones need better boundaries or for you to distance yourself from, and ways to foster new healthy relationships.
Input into your checklist the following practice or a related one: At least once a week, schedule one-on-one time with someone in your life to strengthen that relationship; shut off your cell and give him or her your undivided attention.
In addition, this month, work on being less critical of others. Start by focusing on the person of whom you are most critical. Consider using your checklist and check off each day you were able to avoid criticizing them. You might want to start off with just avoiding being critical during a set time of day, i.e., morning, afternoon or evening, and build from there.
Questions for the month:
“Which of my relationships do I need to strengthen? What is the first step to doing that?”
“Which relationships need better boundaries or for me to distance myself from? What is the first step to doing that?”
“Do I want to form new healthy relationships? What are some ways I can do that?”
“Which person in my life am I most critical of? For this month, am I willing to commit to give them at least as much compliments as criticisms?”
Take care and may God grant us success in the coming month,
When the Jews were leaving Egypt, they almost lost hope when they saw the Egyptian army chasing after them. Moses prayed to God and God told him to keep going (Exodus, 14:15). By having faith in God and moving forward, even going straight into the sea, they witnessed the amazing miracle of the sea splitting before them.
In our own lives, we may feel overwhelmed by struggles and past mistakes. At times, there appears to be no way out. But we must have faith that there is always a way out. Instead of wallowing in our difficulties, we must keep moving forward, step by step, even if we have no idea how we will succeed. Success is up to God; it is up to us to do our best.
Each day is a new beginning, a new opportunity to overcome your challenges. Never give up. No situation is as seemingly hopeless as a nation being enslaved for hundreds of years. Just as God freed us from slavery, so too can He free you from your difficulties. With faith in your heart, a prayer on your lips and ironclad determination, like the Jews leaving Egypt, may you too witness miracles and see your challenges split before you.
Think of a difficulty in your life and have faith that God has given you the strength to overcome it. Pick one step you will take to address the issue or ask someone wise for advice.
Rosh Chodesh Nissan begins Friday night, the 16th of March, and lasts for one day.
During Nissan, we celebrate the holiday of Passover. On Passover, we commemorate the Exodus from Egypt. It is a time of freedom, when we free ourselves from that which brings us down spiritually.
Even today, many of us are still not yet free and are enslaved to our passions, to varying degrees. At the same time, we still maintain some level of moral purity. The goal is to raise it up a notch, thereby increasing our freedom.
When you prepare for the holiday by removing leaven from your house, also remove spiritual pollution. To whatever extent you are ready, go through your books, magazines, music and videos, and get rid of those filled with profanity, lewdness or vulgarity and using a filter, block related websites; they downgrade your spiritually.
An aspect of maintaining your purity is speaking in an elevated manner. Are there any words you choose to remove from your vocabulary, at least for this month, that do not reflect the type of person you are?
Using your checklist, you can check off each day you succeeded in speaking in a refined manner and/or staying away from spiritual pollution (or limiting your exposure as best you can).
Questions for the month:
“How can I declutter and elevate my spirituality at the same time? What will I get rid of?”
“What is a source of spiritual pollution in my life? How can I shield myself from it or at least limit my exposure to it?”
“What word(s) do I choose to remove from my vocabulary, at least for this month?”