Rosh Chodesh Avodah - 002 Iyar Serving Hashem Through Thinking
The “Extra Understanding” (“Binah Yesairah”) of Women
The ability of the month of Iyar is “hirhur” (thought). This is also identified with binah, which is the ability to have deep thought and analyze.
Chazal say that women have extra understanding (“binah yesairah”) than men, in that a wife can recognize the level of her guests more than her husband can. A woman can realize what the inside of a person is, what’s going on in his heart. A guest might look very well dressed and behaved, but the woman can see what he’s all about inside, if he is really G-d fearing or not.
What exactly is the “extra binah” that women are blessed with?
Our eyes only see something appears like at first glance, but with our power of thought, we can see what’s really going on in the inside of something.
Everything in Creation has much depth in it – depth within depth. We need to think into things, at how deep everything really is.
For example, a child doesn’t think so much. He knows that food is food and that a toy is a toy, but he doesn’t realize that there is more uses to everything. He never thinks into the depth of something. But as a person gets older and matures, he thinks more into things and discovers that there is a lot more to life, such as picking up a pen to write or driving a car. The more we think into something and what it is, the more depth we uncover to everything in life.
The more we think into things, the more our outlook changes. When we think into things, we get a whole new outlook on the same situations, just like an adult sees a situation in a totally different way than a child does. If we use our ability to think deeply, we can see a whole new depth to old situations and uncover a whole new outlook on what we are used to.
To give an example, us as parents change our perspective on raising children as they grow older. When our children are younger, we send them to nursery, and as they get older we help them with their homework. Parenting gets more challenging the older our children get. When they reach marriageable age, our perspective as parents is a whole different outlook than when our children were young.
The same can go for any other situation as well. We need to change our perspective on our situations in life and think into them. We must mature in life.
Our responsibilities have grown since we were young. We have grown in our actions, and we have grown in our feelings. We must grow as well in our thoughts – our outlook on life. Our outlook has to be different now than it was ten years ago.
We will give a few examples of how we can gain a more mature outlook on our situations in life.
Thinking What Chessed Is
One example of deep thinking is to think deeply into the concept of chessed (acts of kindness).
It is not just in our actions of chessed which we must increase, but it is our perspective on chessed which must change. We can gain a whole new perspective on chessed now – if we think about all the chessed that Hashem does in Creation.
Chessed is not just acts of kindness which I do, but it is a power which affects all of Creation. Hashem does endless chessed throughout the whole world. When we do chessed, we are partners with Hashem in doing chessed. This is a change in perspective towards chessed.
Thinking About The Purpose of Life
Another example of deep thinking is to think about our tachlis (the purpose of life).
We know that there is a purpose and goal to everything we do, but how much do we think about the purpose of life? We know what the purpose of life is, but how much do we think about it? Knowing what the purpose of life is not just another detail in life. The more a person thinks into the purpose of life, the deeper his perspective is on the purpose of life is.
Thinking About Being Close to Hashem
A third example is to think deeply about what it means to be close to Hashem.
We know that the purpose of doing the mitzvos is to become close to Hashem, but how often do we think about this? We must deepen our awareness of this. Are you close to Hashem on the same level that you were when you were younger?
Most people look at closeness to Hashem in the same way since they were children, but our whole attitude to being close to Hashem should be vastly different now than it used to be. Most people stay the way they were as children and aren’t connected yet to Hashem. Their feelings toward Hashem haven’t grown since they were younger. We need to think more and more about the concept of being close to Hashem, and the more we reflect about it, the more it will become more of a reality to us.
We have given three examples of how to think deeply into familiar parts of our life, but we must know one thing: if someone doesn’t have time to think on a constant basis about his life, he might get older and become smarter, but his actual level of Yiddishkeit (devout Judaism) is still very small.
Making Use of Our Power to Think
The month of Iyar, which is about the power of hirhur\binah - deepening our thoughts and awareness about life - can change us and help us grow in our values.
Usually, a person only uses his deep thinking to think about his problems: “How do I get out of this problem…What should I do…”
But we should make use of our power of thought and think into simple things as well, even when we are calm. Women have a power of extra binah, and they can use this to take simple things and think into them deeply. We should take everything we know about since we were younger and think into them.
Women are often using their extra Binah to think into the materialistic parts of life, but this power can be used as well to grow in spirituality. In order for a woman to really utilize the potential of her extra Binah, she should take the time every day and think into her life, such as in the three examples above (chessed, tachlis hachaim, and kirvas Hashem).
If we begin to think more into what’s in our life, our whole way of life will change for the better! We will uncover a deeper and inner kind of life.
There is a lot more which we can know and should know. We should think more into important topics, such as the foundations of Yiddishkeit, some of which we mentioned before.
The words here are not just a piece of advice. It is a way to really live life. We need to think more about what we do and what we feel. This is the root of an inner kind of life. Once we are connected in our minds more to matters in our Yiddishkeit, we will carry them out with a whole different meaning, and we will feel totally different toward what we do. When we use our thoughts, not only do we make use of our power of thought, but it will deepen our actions and feelings as well and give us a whole new perspective on them; and we will then reveal a whole new depth to our life.
Questions And Answers With The Rav
QUESTION: If my birthday is in Iyar, does that mean that my special Avodah in life is to use the power of deep thought?
ANSWER: It can definitely help you find your main Avodah in life, but it doesn’t mean that this is your main Avodah in life.
QUESTION: If someone wasn’t born in Iyar, can he still have this ability of deep thought?
QUESTION: How can I know what my main, personal Avodah in life is (Besides for the general mission that the Jewish people has)?
ANSWER: That is a very complicated matter. Generally speaking, a person has to know his main quality and his main weakness in life, and these are the roots of his Avodah. The rest are always details which one has to learn about himself, but the root of one’s mission on this world is to know the depth of his main quality, and the depth of his weakest point.
QUESTION: What does it mean to analyze things using the power of Binah?
ANSWER: There are three kinds of Binah. There is Binah which comes from the mind, and in this men are better at then women. This is intellectual understanding. There is another kind of Binah which comes from the heart, which is intuition, and in this women are better at then men. There is a third kind of Binah, when we think into facts. This is also an ability which women excel at more than men. It is this third kind of Binah which was discussed here in this class.
QUESTION: Is there a month which is associated more with the other kind of Binah that women have (intuition)?
ANSWER: The month of Elul has the mazal of besulah (a virgin girl). This represents the power to have intuition.
QUESTION: Is there a connection between the two kinds of Binah?
ANSWER: Yes, there is a connection. First, we must analyze facts, which is the power of this month of Iyar, and then we will be healed, which is the power of the month of Elul, when we are healed from our spiritual failings.
QUESTION: Is “Hisbonenus” the same thing as “Hisbodedus”?
ANSWER: That is a very good question. They are two different abilities in our soul. Many of our teachers say that they need to be done together, but some say they are two different things. What we need to do is integrate them with each other. Hisbodedus is to be alone from people, but what do we do once we are alone? That is where Hisbonenus comes in: we analyze our life, and we also use our power of simplicity (peshitus) in the soul to talk to Hashem. There is a deep, analytical part to it – which was the subject discussed today -- and there is also a simple part, which is to talk to Hashem freely.
QUESTION: What is the order – to first think deeply and then think simply, or to first have simplicity and only then to think deeply?
ANSWER: It depends on the person, and we would need to have a whole series of derashos just on this one topic to know the answer.
QUESTION: Is analyzing our strong points and weak points a part of this month’s Avodah?
ANSWER: Yes, that is part of how become close to Hashem.
 After this series of “Rosh Chodesh – Avodah”, the author gave a series on the topic of hisbodedus, entitled “Reaching Your Inner Silence.”