…Having cancelled all our vows and having extricated ourselves from the complications we have brought upon ourselves, we might think that it is preferable not to take on any good resolutions during Rosh Hashanah and the month of Tishrei. If we have no expectations there will be no disappointments. However, if we accept God’s kingdom in all its gravity, and internalize the fact that this is obviously our mission on earth—then it is clear that we are going to accept some very good resolutions because, “You and I can change the world.”
On Rosh Hashanah, we rectify our souls by hearing the sounds of the shofar. To fulfill this mitzvah, the only requirement is to listen to the sound of the shofar. The sound of the shofar, which is likened to a voice, has a detailed and intimate message for the soul. This sound conveys its message to the soul’s very root.
The ascent to G-d through teshuvah must be such that it leads to your nature becoming truly one with God, and then: just as G-d is both transcendent and immanent at the same time, so the Jew can be “above,” and “below” at the same time. This is the essence of what we call natural Jewish consciousness.
The first verse of the Bible contains four nouns: “the beginning,” “Elokim,” “the heavens,” and “the earth.” The Chassidic masters gave different interpretations of the role that “the beginning,” i.e., time played in creation. Coupled into the discussion on the nature of time and its role is a beautiful correspondence of these four primary nouns with the four types of ego-nullification discussed in Chassidut, the highest of which gives a person the ability to see the world from G-d’s perspective.
The epitome of spiritual work is a broken heart; the perfected manner of spiritual service is that of walking humbly (with God). Happy are the people who know the te’ruah–who know how to shout for joy (which in Hebrew is a permutation of the word te’ruah, as they break their inflated sense of separate existence (“ego”). Inwardly their heart is broken, but outwardly they are joyous…
Rosh Hashanah is the day God created Adam and Eve, and on that very same day they sinned; they were seduced by the serpent to believe that by eating the forbidden fruit they would become like God. The serpent’s venom affects its victim’s mind, by contaminating it with delusions of grandeur. While ophidiophobia (fear of snakes) is a fear that has been well-documented, our apprehension of the serpent that sojourns deep within our psyche need to be further developed.
The selichot we say during the month of Elul, together with the Rosh Hashanah prayers, channel through to the intense moments of the shofar blast – that simple, coarse sound that expresses the innermost point of the soul.
The essence of Rosh Hashanah is reaccepting God’s reign over us. Normally, people imagine that kings rule by force. But, a righteous Jewish king must receive his mandate from the people. he Torah requires the people to be willing to nullify themselves before the prospective king, willingly accepting his sovereignty without any coercion on the king’s part, all in order to arouse the king’s essential majesty.
The festival of Sukot, the Time of our Rejoicing, is the festival of the Jewish People. Culminating the three pilgrimage festivals and following the days of personal and communal repentance and atonement, we gather together on the Festival of the Ingathering, into a sukah that has room for every one of us, as stated by the sages, “All Jews are worthy of sitting in one sukah.”
Ten Days of Repentance
Normally, a tzadik who clings and adheres to the Divine is consequently disconnected from mundane reality. This is called Divine consciousness. Why is this so? Why does clinging to the Divine preclude awareness of the mundane? When we would like to understand the meaning of a word and its primary context and application in life, we turn to the Torah to seek its first instance.
Bringing Together Rachel’s Children (6 Tishrei 5774)
We all love life and find it difficult to conceive of relinquishing our hold on it. However, for some individuals, this love of life is accompanied by its flip-side, an unsolicited fear of death.
Festival of Sukkot
Our sages interpret the verse (Psalms 35:10), “All my bones [i.e., my entire being] shall say O’ God, who is like You?’” to refer to the four species of the holiday of Sukkot, each of which resembles a part of the human body, all of which together praise God–”who is like You?”
sukah cannot be higher than 20 cubits (about 10 meters). At the beginning of the tractate of Sukah, the Talmud bring three opinions as to why the height of a sukah is limited in this way…
Since the joy of Sukot is in contradistinction to the awe experienced on Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, the soul experiences the two extremes of awe and joy in close succession. In bipolar disorder, the fine-tuned balance between awe and joy is disturbed, and the highs and lows are totally out of proportion to normal emotions. In Kabbalah, the metaphor that describes the delicate balance between the highs and lows of life, are the words of the Divine bride with reference to her groom…
As mentioned in our previous article on Sukot, the Prophet Jonah received his prophecy in merit of his exuberant joy during the water-drawing celebrations in the Temple. However, the prophecy he received threw him into a flight of manic depression as we will see from the wording of the verses:
The Temple service reaches its apex on the festival of Sukot, “the time of our joy.” Sacrifices are offered in abundance, including 70 cows, one for each nation on earth (making Sukot a universal festival). The joy of Sukot reaches its highpoint however not in animal sacrifice on the altar but with the pouring of living (i.e., spring) waters on the altar. These waters are described as being drawn in joy from “the fountains of salvation.”