Iyar’s Mazal Is Shor (Ox): A Fond Farewell to Mom’s Old ’99 Ford Taurus (Ox)!
BY: Rabbi Hillel L. Yarmove
As many of you know, we at The Jewish Echo customarily have to compose our articles over a month in advance (owing to magazine-publishing logistics).
So it won’t come as any particular surprise that I’m writing this article on March 21, the first full day of spring this year, and (ironically) the date of yet another challenging, wintry nor’easter! But by the time you get to read this column, things will be far different. Chances are, it will already be the Jewish month of Iyar (indeed, meforshim point out that the term “Iyar” can be understood as an abbreviation of “Ani Hashem rofecha: I am G-d, your Healer”). The mazal (zodiacal constellation) for this month is Shor—“Tora” in Targum Lashon (Aramaic) and in Latin, “Taurus.” All these words mean “ox” or “bull.”
What does an ox (Taurus) have to do with the month of Iyar?
In his classic Sefer Hatoda’ah (Yad Eliyahu Kitov edition [Yerushalayim], p. 486), Rabbi Eliyahu Kitov informs us of the following: “[Iyar’s] mazal [is that of an] ox eating grass, for this month is the last of the summer months in Eretz Yisroel [in] which the ox finds enough grass in the field to satiate him” (translation is mine).
What an object lesson for all of us as we navigate through this month-after-Nissan! (Please remember that Nissan is technically the beginning of summer in Artzeinu Hakedoshah.) After all, Iyar is a month of healing, according to Chazal (see above). And it also seems to be a month of satiety, what with the advent of warmer weather, sprouting of vegetation, and our steady progress toward Mattan Toraseinu (Shavuos).
But this year, Iyar and its mazal (Shor) have assumed a new meaning—for me, at least.
You see, I am finally parting with our old family car—a ’99 Ford Taurus (Shor???) bequeathed to me by my dear late mother, a”h—whose birthday (not so coincidentally) falls out during the month of Iyar. Two of our young family members who need the vehicle are slated to be its recipients. But seeing that “Taurus” is the Latin name of Iyar’s mazal, it might behoove me to say farewell to the vehicle—during this month of Iyar—by relating a true anecdote concerning how the past and present are often bound inextricably together.
*Do you remember the tora—or sora—in the Pesach song “Chad Gadya”?
A number of years ago, I stayed by a friend over Shabbos in Lakewood near where a family member was undergoing rehabilitation. On Motzoei Shabbos, when I reached the place where I had left my mother’s Ford Taurus, I realized that I couldn’t open it without a key, which was in a house located at a distance from my parking spot. Moreover, it was bitterly cold, stormy, and icy—and I had neglected to dress appropriately for such weather. I desperately needed to seek out a place of refuge; otherwise, I might develop frostbite under such brutal conditions!
Then I realized that my mother’s old Taurus had an outer door-mounted, driver’s side push-button panel. But Mom had apparently forgotten to tell me the password—or I had not looked carefully at the papers she had handed to me when she let me drive the car during her final months.
What should I do now?
What would Mom have done? All of a sudden, I felt somehow that she might have entered our old telephone number from my childhood—but where this idea came from I do not know! Mistameh, this conjecture was yet another gift from the Basheffer, so I went ahead and entered “[MO] 668-6694.” After all, wasn’t that our telephone number –MOunt [Vernon] 8-6694—during the days of my youth in Westchester County, New York, so very long ago?
I heard a sudden click, and with nearly frozen hands I opened the driver’s side door to Mom’s old Taurus.
[MO] 668-6694: A call from beyond? A coincidence—either for her to have used that number or for me to have remembered it? But then again, we Yidden don’t ascribe anything to chance!
And so, during the month of Iyar, when I shall by all accounts have parted from this vehicle, I have so much more to be thankful for. I too, like the ox (Shor, Taurus) have found the full measure of my reward in this car—and am now passing it on to the younger generation.
Yes, Iyar incorporates both healing and satisfaction—if we but use our time properly and to good purpose.
You don’t have to believe me: Just ask any Taurus (ox)!
*I’ll have to admit that since this Taurus may still somehow be parked in the metropolitan area at the time of your reading this article, I have used another “antique” telephone number instead—that of my dear maternal grandparents, a”h.
Questions or comments? I may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.