A Thought for the Week
Rosh Hashanah 5761
Close your eyes and imagine what the
world must have looked like on the first day of creation. Pristine, fresh,
untainted, healthy and unpolluted. Man is created. He is na´ve, pure and
innocent. His face shines from the goodness of his unadulterated soul. His
tongue is holy because he has never told a lie. His heart can only love
because he has not learned how to hate. Don't we all wish we were there?
Don't we all wish we could catch a whiff of the freshest air in history?
For the past month we have been reciting "LeDovid" every day. The custom to recite this psalm during the period of repentance is based on the following Medrash.
"Hashem ori veyishi".
is my light", on Rosh Hashanah, "and my salvation", on Yom
Kippur. "He will hide me in His shelter", is an allusion to Sukos.
The light, ori, is the light G-d hid away at the beginning of creation. It
is a fresh, untouched, pure, and uncomplicated light. It is the light of
Rosh Hashanah. This Medrash is deeply Kabalistic, yet its message is very
simple. On Rosh Hashanah we can start fresh. Yom
Kippur is a time for repentance and restructuring of our lives. Rosh
Hashana is a time to plug into the original light of creation.
While being at home you may have wanted
to change some things about the way you dress, the way you speak, the way
you eat, your behavior in the Synagogue, your business practices and your
whole priority system, but it was too difficult to even consider. At home
you may have fallen into patterns of relationships with your spouse, your
children or your friends that may not be for the best. You may have
developed habits that are destructive. You may have become negative about
certain people. But at home it's too hard to change. What will my friends
say if I start dressing different? Will people view me as an impostor if I
suddenly refuse to gossip? What will my wife think if I give up my
favorite TV show for Daf Yomi? It is very difficult to change the terms of
your relationships, midstream. But now that you are moving to a brand new
place there is no reason for inhibition. Just do it!
On a practical level I would like to suggest that we look at the ten days from Rosh Hashana to Yom Kippur as a testing ground. Use these ten days to experiment with some new behaviors. Most of us can get through a week without drinking alcohol or smoking. If we it would mean that we are addicted to destructive behavior. Can we get through the week without saying anything negative about anyone else? Can we get through the week without criticizing or insulting others? Can we get through the week without losing our temper? If we can't - are we addicted? Are we stuck?
Today is the day to get unstuck, to start anew and to grow. May you all be blessed with a beautiful new page in the book of life.
Rabbi Yaacov Haber
Rabbi Haber is the OU's National Director of Jewish Education and the spiritual leader of the OU's Pardes Program
Comments and questions are very welcome
"A tree of life for those who embrace it"