TISHREI, THE BEGINNING MONTH FOR THE JEWISH YEAR.
By Rabbi Sholom Lipskar
All beginnings are powerful. that which comes first contains within it the potential for all that follows. In fact, by virtue of being the origin, the beginning already has dialectically all that in time will come therefrom. Similarly, the month of Tishrei is the beginning month for the Jewish year containing all that will come throughout the entire year. Though it is the seventh month in the calendrical cycle of months, it is the first month in terms of beginning our creation and lifecycle.
Adam was created on the first day of the month of Tishrei, Rosh Hashanah. Tishrei, when you rearrange the Hebrew letters, makes up the word Rosh, which means head. Just as the head is the control and nerve center of every part of the body as it is from the brain that all faculties of human function emanates, so too it is from the month of Tishrei that we get our energy/life force, sustenance and influence for the entire year.
Tishrei begins with a series of days that bring our attention to recognize the Creator of the Universe and its Conductor that makes every part of the Universe operate. On the first Rosh Hashanah, Adam, the first man, summoned all of G-d’s creatures and together came to recognize and pay homage to our Creator, G-d/Hashem.
We then experience Yom Kippur, culminating the 10 days of Teshuvah. It is when each of us looks with deep introspection into our past year, recognizing our successes and that which needs improvement. We carefully think through our behavioral patterns and make strong resolutions based on solid foundations in how to make the coming year so much better. In general, we rectify that which needs improvement and add certain elements to bring us to a higher and better level.
We then come to the holiday of Sukkot. Whereas the first part of the month represents profound analysis and serious reflection, it is Sukkot which opens the second part of the month when we are actually commanded to be joyful and happy, to serve G-d with a sense of celebratory exuberance and joyfulness.
It is interesting that the Sukkah (Holy Hut) that represents the holiday is a mitzvah that encompasses every single part of our being. Whereas other mitzvahs address certain parts of our personality or anatomy, such as the fact that we pray with our mouths expressing our hearts, we put on Tefillin on our head and arms, we give Tzedakah with our hands. The Sukkah encompasses the whole person with all of himself, from his head to the galoshes on his feet.
The Sukkah reflects the temporary nature of our lives and environments. Though our 21st century society is very sophisticated and advanced, reaching levels unimaginable just 100 years ago that are at the cutting edge of the historical process of civilization, our world is overwhelmed with insecurity, fear, doubt and uncertainty. Our economies are in a state of flux, our security is vulnerable, Big Brother is here in every way as our every action is apparent and scrutinized, from our financial dealings on the Internet to our movements everywhere we go. Our children are exposed to a CyberWorld that allows them to live in a manner where they can experience every option of life—good or bad—vicariously, impacting their intellect and emotions deeply and desensitizing their notion of conscience or guilt.
It is in this space and time that the Sukkah represents the powerful factors that transform this nebulous insecurity into a Holy G-dly space. It is the spiritual connection which is so evident and palpable in the Sukkah that allows us to feel a sense of meaning and purpose which is the fundamental and most important aspect of a person’s existence. Realizing that there is meaning, G-dly objectives and purpose in life while at the same time being protected by the holy and G-dly energies that surround us, assures us safety from the forces that threaten to overwhelm us.
There are no walls that are thick enough, high enough or strong enough to be impervious to the influences that enter into our personal spaces. The Sukkah teaches us that we must create holiness in our spaces permeated with meaning and purpose, and only then is lasting happiness the result. That which a person seeks most in life is joy, happiness, health and peace of mind and soul. That is the fundamental reality that each of us looks to achieve in our and our families’ lives.
Every single person could and should make a difference in all of creation. G-d created each one to be unique and special. Every one of us contains a different energy from every other person, a different voiceprint, a different fingerprint, a different eye print, unique, separate and different. As Maimonides stated, every person with a single act could make a massive difference that could change the world to the positive or, G-d forbid, negative side. G-d gave each of us our personal mission that can be done by no one else nor can it be duplicated.
When we enter the Sukkah we should know that G-d is affecting, protecting and directing our lives, and will bless us with all we need in joy and happiness, fulfilling all that we each wish for ourselves and our loved ones.
G-d bless you! Have a most joyous Sukkot and a great month of Tishrei, a great year and everything good. May you be inscribed and sealed for a good, pleasant year with all of G-d Almighty’s blessings to fulfill all of your hearts desires for good, and the ultimate blessing that Moshiach be revealed now so that we are free to only serve G-d.