This page presents insights by Rabbi Tuvia Bolton on the weekly Torah portion.
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Rosh Hashanah (5764)
On Rosh HaShanna the Jewish people celebrate the (last day of the) creation of the world (when G-d made man).
Interestingly, there is no other religion, people or nation that knows, or even cares when the world was created and certainly none that celebrate it.
Why is it that ONLY the Jews commemorate the creation? And what is the point of doing so? Is the creation of the world a religious event?
We can better understand this through examining the Baal Shem Tov's explanation of the sentence
"You, G-d, are kind because You repay man like his deeds." Psalms (62:13)
He gives a parable:
"Once a landowner had a lot of work to be done and went to wake one of his servants but the servant refused to wake up. The master tried shouting, throwing water, dragging him out of bed all to no avail.
"So with no other choice the master rolled up his sleeves and did all the work himself. He plowed, planted, dug, tore down, built up, painted and worked until sunset.
"Then he returned to the servant's quarters ordered him to stand up, gave him a big handshake and paid him in full for the day's work!
"That's right! The master did all the work and the servant got paid!! Could there ever be such a thing?
"Answers the Baal Shem Tov; that is exactly what G-d does with us constantly and that is what the sentence is saying.
"G-d creates us (along with our free will) continually from nothing. In fact He creates the entire universe every instant anew.
"So really G-d (even more so than the landlord) is doing it all... all the 'work'.
"And yet He rewards us for our good deeds "LIKE" we exist and are really "DOING" something.
"So we are really nothing!!"
This is a very beautiful and abstract idea. But it contradicts common sense! It is absurd to say we don't exist and our feelings and senses are false! Of course we exist! Any CHILD can tell you that!!
And this is exactly the point of Rosh HaShanna:
On Rosh HaShanna we, the Jewish people, declare that our 'common sense' and our 'perception' is wrong and the ONLY REAL existence is the Creator. He alone is King of the Universe. (Ain Od Milvado)
[Incidentally that is why Moshiach is such an upsetting idea and why the Jews hated king David and Moses both forerunners of Moshiach. Because Moshiach, even more than Adam did, will re-educate the world with the knowledge of the One-ness of G-d: the OPPOSITE of human perception and certainty]
Like it says in the Midrash that when Adam was created (on Rosh HaShanna) all creation turned to him thinking he was G-d. He replied "Come bow and surrender to G-d OUR Creator (Psalms 95:6)"
And every Rosh HaShanna we do the same thing; 'Coronate' G-d as the King of the universe.
And only we Jews can (and must) do it. For that we were 'chosen'. (As the first Rashi in B'reshis says: The world was created for the Jews and for the Torah).
That is why ONLY we celebrate the creation because it is uniquely in our hands.
Perhaps this is also one of the reasons that the Jews have been hated throughout the generations. The gentiles sense that, while they themselves are but part of the creation, the Jews are 'part' of the Creator. (It says it in their Bibles as well: "A portion of G-d is His people." See Deut. 32:9) and that is a hard idea to take.
Here are four more important lessons to be learned from Rosh HaShanna:
First, we must NEVER take anything for granted: EVERYTHING is a miraculous gift from G-d (including ourselves). And we must constantly THANK G-d for constantly creating all we have. (Then, just as science has proven that we use only a small fraction of our brains, we will discover that we use even a smaller fraction of our hearts and have unlimited capabilities of awe, love, joy and gratitude).
In fact the Baal Shem Tov had a custom of going around asking Jews 'how are you?' in order to open their hearts and evoke from them a reply of 'Thanks to G-d' or 'Blessed be HaShem'.
Second: Man has a job to do in the world. Just as G-d put Adam in the garden to work and keep it (2:15) so we have an obligation to improve and correct the entire world.
Third: It is impossible that anything in the world can prevent us from doing this job (although it may seem that way at times) because the world is being created constantly by the same G-d that gave the Torah.
And finally we can learn that just as Adam was created alone and the whole world was in his hands so also each and every one of us has the power to change the ENTIRE world for good.
Like the story I just heard from the chief Rabbi of Kfar Chabad, Rabbi M. Ashkenazi.
He was once visiting Mexico on official business and was invited by a local Rabbi there to see his community. Rabbi Ashkenazi discovered that this Rabbi had built a virtual empire of orthodox Judaism with an immense synagogue, a beautiful mikva, a huge yeshiva and more.
The Rabbi turned to Rabbi Ashkenazi and said. "Well, I'm not a Chabad chassid but I owe all this to the Lubavitcher Rebbe and I'll tell you how.
"Before I got married, when I was learning in Jerusalem in Yeshivat Porat Yosef, someone came in and said that a 'Shaliach' (emissary) of the Lubavitcher Rebbe was speaking in a local Synagogue so myself and a friend went to listen.
"This Shaliach spoke in Yiddish so I didn't understand a word but someone translated one idea. He said that the Lubavitcher Rebbe said that each Jew is like a match; With a little effort he can transform a place of complete spiritual darkness to light and warmth.'
"That was over thirty years ago. I married, got a job here in Mexico and got a taste of the spiritual darkness the Rebbe was referring to. No one here wanted to hear about Orthodox Judaism. But those words of the Rebbe gave me hope and strength.
Although other Rabbis protested my leading a community of non-religious Jews I kept working on the community and what the Rebbe said came true. I transformed it to light and warmth just like one little match can do."
May we all learn from this lesson and all the lessons of the Lubavitcher Rebbe to transform the entire world to light and warmth with....
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