Torah Fax

Friday, September 7 , 2007 - 24 Elul, 5767 

Candle Lighting, Wednesday, 9/12 6:52 pm 
Candle Lighting, Thursday, 9/13,  (from a pre-existing flame)   after 7:50 pm 
Candle Lighting, Friday, 9/14 (from a pre-existing flame)    before 6:49 pm

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For High Holiday laws and customs, please click here.

What's New?

Every Rosh Hashanah brings new energy and new hope for the future. The Chassidic classic Tanya, by Rabbi Schneur Zalman, the first Lubavitcher Rebbe, known affectionately as the Alter Rebbe, explains that every Rosh Hashanah G‑d introduces a new, unprecedented surge of Divine energy to the world.

It should be noted that the this teaching from Tanya, that a heretofore never experienced divine energy is drawn into the world each year on Rosh HaShanna, is uniquely connected to Israel. The Alter Rebbe notes that the verse says with regard to Israel that “G‑d’s eyes are constantly upon the Land, from the beginning of the year, until the end of th year.” He asks why the verse doesn’t simply state that G‑d’s eyes are constantly upon the Land, caring for the land of Israel and giving His blessings on an ongoing basis? It is in response to this question that the Alter Rebbe answers that a new, never before experienced energy comes down upon the Land each year at the onset of Rosh HaShanna. Thus G‑d’s involvement with and protection over Israel is indeed only until the end of the year, at which point, the divine light is renewed yet again.

But what about the rest of the world and those that live outside of Israel? How do they experience this Divine energy? How does G‑d relate to them? To this, the Tanya answers that through G‑d’s involvement with Israel, the rest of the world receives its blessing s as well. Israel is the conduit for blessing and Divine light for the entire world.

All of this is true each and every year. But there are certain years where the characteristics of the year accentuate the unique quality of that particular year. This year 5768 features a convergence of significant factors.

First, the two days of Rosh Hashanah are followed by Shabbat. Whenever there are three consecutive days of holiness it represents a qualitatively higher form of holiness. In Jewish law, an event that recurs three times establishes a chazakah (literally: a strong fact), an established and entrenched reality. And just as the head controls the entire body, so too, Rosh Hashanah, which means Head of the Year, defines the nature of the entire year.

Second, this three-consecutive-days-of-holiness pattern repeats itself in this month of Tishrei another two times: at the beginning and the end of the Sukkot-Sinchat Torah Holiday continuum. This attests to an exponentially stronger infusion of holiness this coming year.

Third, this year is a Sabbatical year. From the time Joshua conquered the Land of Israel, the Torah commanded us to desist from agricultural work every seven years. The spirit of this law that applies in the Diaspora and in non-agricultural societies is that every seven years we must focus more on the spiritual aspects of life. A Sabbatical year is also a year of rest and peace.

Fourth, this year is also a Jewish leap year. This means that we will have thirteen months instead of the standard twelve. In Hebrew, this year is referred to as a "shanah m'uberet," or "a pregnant year." It is a year that is pregnant with new energy and spiritual potential.

Fifth, the number of this year is 5768. The number 68 is equivalent to the word "chaim" which means life. While every Rosh Hashanah is punctuated by our requests for life, this year of "chaim" will afford us an even greater opportunity to experience life to the fullest.

One of the features of the Messianic Age is that it will usher in an age when life will be lived to the fullest, in both the physical as well as the spiritual sense.

As we usher in the "Head-Rosh" of the three-days-of-holiness-Sabbatical-Leap-year-of-life, may we all be inscribed and sealed for a holy, good, sweet, peaceful, pregnant with life, healthy and happy New Year. And above all may it be a year of the true and complete Redemption through our righteous Moshiach!    

Moshiach Matters       

The Shulchan Aruch rules that on Rosh HaShannah we wear fine holiday clothing, symbolizing our confidence that we will be victorious  in our judgement on Rosh HaShannah. In the merit this sign of confidence that we show even before the onset of the holiday every Jew should be blessed with everything he needs, materially and spiritually - including the main blessing that Moshiach should come today, on the eve of Rosh HaShannah, in  a real and revealed way. (The Rebbe, Erev Rosh HaShanna, 1991) 

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