As mentioned in our last column, we live life on two levels. There is the level we see, the everyday level. There is also a deeper level, the unseen. Being Jewish is a constant interplay between living life on the outer and inner levels.
In the same vein, last week we welcomed the month of Iyar. According to both the Talmud and your local horoscope pages, the month of Iyar is the month of Taurus or the Bull. If you look in the sky, you can see a “bull” through a telescope. Thus, as you can read both in the Gemara and in the New York Post, there is a “bull” energy operating in our lives this month.
But what does this mean? From a Jewish, deeper perspective, what possible relevance does the zodiac (or mazalos) have in our lives?
We discussed in the last column that Pesach is the time where G-d takes us from whatever level we are on, and immediately passes us over to the highest levels. That is, if we sincerely thought about where we wanted to be in all areas of our lives, on Pesach night G-d would lift us up and take us there.
But it doesn’t last. G-d wants us to earn our greatness. G-d wants us to work hard, to achieve, not because of any gift, but as a result of effort and action.
And so after the great uplifting, G-d says, “Now you try it. On your own. Working hard and making it real.”
Then we start working. We start fighting through our normal lives. And we often start to doubt. To get depressed. Yes, we know that G-d showed us this incredible light on Pesach, but can we really get there without Him?
Then something amazing happens. One day, one moment, it all begins to click. You’re there!
You’ve heard this a million times, but the reason why people say it’s always darkest before the dawn is because it’s true! When things seem hardest, when you’ve fought and fought and you feel like giving up, if you push just a little more, if you count on yourself to get there – you will! Hashem will even help you get there!
That’s where Shavuous comes in. Once we have risen up, seen our greatness on Pesach, and after we have worked on ourselves tirelessly, for 49 days, Hashem takes us to the finish line on the 50th.
It’s why the Torah says “Tisperu Chamishim Yom,” or “Count 50 days” when we know that we only count 49. When we fight and work hard and count for 49 days, Hashem counts the 50th for us.
The mazalos of this time completely cohere with this idea. In fact, this is why we have them in the first place! In Nissan, Hashem lifted us up and showed us tremendous miracles. Therefore, Nissan is the month of the ram. What is a ram? A ram is an animal that is led by a shepherd (G-d) who takes care of us and guides us to greener pastures. A ram is given everything, as we were in Nissan, when Hashem picked us up and showed us our greatness.
Yet now we are in Iyar, the Bull. What is a bull? A bull is an animal that fights and claws for everything it gets. It will not back down. There is no shepherd anymore, it’s just us, remembering the greatness we saw in ourselves on Pesach and fighting, scratching, clawing to get it back.
When we do that, when we fight hard, and just as things seem bleak, we have Sivan, the month of Shavuous. The month of Gemini or the twins. It’s the month of perfect harmony. It’s when Hashem says to us, I see you have fought for the past month. You are trying to manifest your greatness, I will pick you up for the last mile (or the 50th day) and I will take you there. The harmony between us and Hakadosh Baruch Hu is apparent, and we merit to receive the Torah.
This month, of Iyar, FIGHT FOR YOUR GREATNESS. Fight like you’ve never fought before. Grab the bull by the horns and work hard, physically (we all need to lose weight after Pesach), emotionally, and spiritually. If you work hard for your greatness, then just as things seem to be darkest, Hashem will lift you up and give you the greatest joy you will ever know.
By Alec Borenstein