Friday, September 18, 2009

Rosh HaShanah 5632 Third Ma'amar

The Midrash[1] on the pasuk in parshas Emor which mentions Rosh HaShanah cites the following pasuk from Tehillim (119:89), “לְעוֹלָם ה' דְּבָרְךָ נִצָּב בַּשָּׁמָיִם/Forever, God, Your word stands firm in the heavens.”  What is the connection between this pasuk and Rosh HaShana?

The Ba’al Shem Tov[2] explains that this pasuk harks back to God’s command to create the heavens and is to be understood literally.  God’s command, “Let there be a firmament …,” (Breishis 1:6) the very words of the declaration, stand firm in the heavens and give them existence.  The same applies to all the commands of the Creation.

Why is this so and what is its significance?  The Sfas Emes explains that God's creation commands (i.e. "Let there be light", etc.) are at the root of every part of the Creation. The spiritual sustenance that enables every part of the Creation to continue to exist flows out of God’s very declarations that brought them into existence in the first place. The spiritual energy at the source and its physical counterparts are therefore intimately connected. The Creation was structured so that the spiritual energy actually becomes the physical creations.

The Midrash quotes this pasuk relating to Rosh HaShanah because Rosh HaShanah represents the spiritual energy before it changes into disparate material creations.  The teki’ah sound of the shofar alludes to this concept.  The teki’ah is a simple sound.  It represents sound before it is broken into parts by speech and reminds us of the source of life and existence before it becomes physical and broken into disparate physical forms[3].

On Rosh HaShanah we want to connect – to experience – through the sound of the shofar, to God’s spiritual life force. May we merit it!

[1] VaYikra R. 29:1
[2] Cited in Tanya, Sha’ar HaYichud VeHe’Emunah 1
[3] For a fascinating discussion of this concept, see Ya’aros Devash 1:6.  Rav Yonasan Aibshutz explains the juxtaposition of the different names of God in the pasuk, “עָלָה אֱ-לֹהִים בִּתְרוּעָה ה' בְּקוֹל שׁוֹפָר.”  The Tetragrammaton has no consonants.  As such it is comparable to the teki’ah which is a simple sound unbroken into components by the different parts of the mouth.  The name אֱ-לֹהִים, on the other hand, has consonants.  It is comparable to the teru’ah which is sound broken using parts of the mouth.  It represents God’s influence in the physical world.  Rav Aibshutz also explains that the world was created with the simple sound of the teki’ah because the definition of dibbur is the creation of an “angel”.  For this reason there is no dibbur or amira associated with the first command – Breishis.  This is why we associate the teki’ah with the Creation on Rosh Hashanah – HaYom haras olam.

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