Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Rosh HaShanah 5632 Third Ma'amar

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

The Ba’al Shem Tov 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 …,” 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. The Sfas Emes explains that God's commandments (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 set up so that the spiritual energy actually becomes the physical creations.

The Midrash relates this pasuk to Rosh HaShanah because Rosh HaShanah represents the spiritual energy before it changes into disparate material creations. The tekia gives a clue to this concept as well. The tekia 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*.

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

* For a fascinating discussion of this concept, see Ya’aros Devash 1:6. Reb Yonasan Aibshutz explains the juxtaposition of the different names of God in the pasuk, ““עלה א-להים בתרועה ה' בקול שופר.” The Tetragrammaton has no consonants. As such it is comparable to the tekia which is a simple sound unbroken by parts of the mouth. The name א-להים, on the other hand, has consonants. It is comparable to the teruah which is sound broken using parts of the mouth. It represents God’s influence in the physical world.

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