"And on the seventh month on the first day of the month, it shall be a day of rest. It is a sacred day for remembrance and blowing" (Vayikra 23:24). What the Torah calls a day of blowing (of the ram's horn) is more commonly known as Rosh Hashanah, the New Year. Yet the seventh month seems an odd time to be celebrating the start of a new year. We are apparently six months late…or perhaps it is six months early.
Rosh Hashanah is first and foremost a day of prayer. Prayer, as Rav Soloveitchik often noted, is rooted in asking G-d to fulfil our needs. One who is fully satisfied with his life has no need to pray.
One of the strengths of the Jewish people is our ability to focus on the future. What we do tomorrow is more important than we did yesterday. The entire notion of teshuva is dependent on our ability to move beyond the past, to say that I can do better tomorrow than yesterday.
We are people who exude hope for the future no matter what may have transpired in the past. Only such a people could possibly build one of the most successful countries on earth from the ashes of the Holocaust.
May G-d grant us all a year of health, happiness, meaning and peace. Ketiva v'chatima tova to you, your loved ones and to the Jewish people the world over.
This d’var Torah is sponsored with the wish for a Shana Tova for our parents, Howie & Hilda Libman, Leon & Ethel Bookman, our Rabbi Jay, Ilana, & family, and the entire community, from David, Karen, & Beca Bookman, Toronto.
“On Rosh Hashanah, it is written; and on Yom Kippur, it is sealed, who shall live and who shall die…” (Machzor). It is doubtful that there is a more powerful, emotional or poignant part of the davening on the yamim noraim than the recital of Unetaneh Tokef. The haunting tune sets the mood of the day, while the stark words highlight the fragility of life. If we are successful in taking its words to heart, we will be inspired to heed the concluding sentence that “prayer, repentance and charity can annul the evil decree”.