On the threshold of the New Year, may it bring blessings to us all, I send you my prayerful wishes for a good and pleasant year, materially and spiritually.
Rosh Hashanah marks the beginning of a new year—5780—since the Creation, a new date in the cycle of time. Everyone hopes and prays that it will also be the beginning of a new era in one’s personal life, one that is “good and sweet” materially and spiritually.
It is significant that the anniversary of the Creation is not celebrated on the first day of Creation, but on the sixth, the day when Man was created. Although all other living things—the inanimate, vegetable, and living creatures—making up our vast universe, preceded the creation of Man, as related in the Torah in the first chapter of Genesis, nevertheless it is on the anniversary of Man’s creation that we celebrate Rosh Hashanah, and on this day we say, “This is the day of the beginning of Thy works!”
Herein lies a profound lesson for every one of us:
Man, the microcosm (small world) contains within him all the Four Kingdoms into which the macrocosm, the universe at large, is divided. In the course of his life man passes through the stages of inanimate, vegetable, and animated existence until he reaches maturity and begins to live a rational and spiritual life of a human being. Even then, in his daily life, he may experience a varied existence, as reflected in his deeds and actions: Part of the time he may be regarded in the category of the inanimate; at other times he may vegetate, or live an animated existence; but a true human being he is when his activities give evidence of his intellect and spiritual qualities. Moreover, the name, “man,” is justified only then, when also those areas of one’s life and activities which correspond to the animal, vegetable, and even inanimate “kingdoms” are sublimated, elevated, and sanctified to the level of human quality.
Rosh Hashanah and the Ten Days of Repentance introducing the new year is the time for self-evaluation and mature reflection on the profound lessons of these solemn days.
Just as the world, all the world, begins its true existence, an existence befitting the purpose of its creation, from the day Man was created he, immediately after coming to life, proclaimed the sovereignty of the Creator to all the universe: “Come, let us worship, let us bow down and kneel before G‑d our Maker,” thus inspiring the whole universe with this call (Zohar I, 221b; Pirkei d’Rabbi Elazar, ch. 11), thereby making all the universe an abode for the Divine Presence and carrying out the inner purpose of the Creation.
So, each and every individual must realize that his whole essence and purpose consists in the predominance of the true human element of his being and the “humanization” of the inanimate, vegetable, and animal parts of which he is composed. It is not enough, not enough at all, if part of his time and effort correspond to the behavior of a true human being; it is absolutely necessary that the “man” should inspire, sublimate, elevate, and sanctify all his component parts, including the animal, vegetable and inanimate, in order that they, too, respond to the call, “Come, let us worship, let us bow down and kneel before G‑d, our Maker.”
Such a life in accordance with the commands of the Creator, a life in accordance with the Torah and Mitzvoth which G‑d, our Maker, has given us, and only such a life, justifies one’s own existence, and justifies thereby also the Creation.
With the traditional blessing of Kesivo VaChasimo Toivo [To be inscribed and sealed for a good year].
Chabad of Topanga Jewish Center is located at 1459 Old Topanga Canyon Rd., Topanga, CA 90290. For information: ChabadofTopanga.com; (310) 455-1597; (310) 920-5900.
By Rabbi Dovid Weiss