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  • Dear Friend,

    What's new about the Jewish New Year?
    (Based on a 1953 Rosh Hashanah message from the Rebbe) 

    I love the mad rush leading up to the High Holidays, starting with my guest list and food prep that always includes a last-minute search for the head of a fish. Rosh Hashanah is that time of year when I see old friends at the service and try to figure out how to build my sukkah. To me, the Jewish New Year is a beautiful season that envelops you like a warm hug from your Jewishness. 

    This year made me ponder what exactly is "new" about the Jewish New Year? People often say that Rosh Hashanah marks the birthday of the world. But according to the Torah, the world was "born" six days before the first Rosh Hashanah. So apparently, plenty of action was happening on earth before the last day of Creation, when Adam and Eve came about. 

    In fact, the Torah tells us that the oceans and rivers were loudly swimming with fish, and colorful wildlife roamed freely through mountains and hills, drinking the clean spring water. And I’m sure they enjoyed the gorgeous sunsets too. Yet, that wasn’t enough, we had to wait for Adam and Eve to come along before we celebrated a New Year.

    If you think about it, there are four primary life forms, known philosophically as the "Four Kingdoms," ranging from inanimate rocks and water to the growing trees and vegetables to the animal kingdom and human life. Interestingly enough, the Rebbe, in a 1953 letter, points out that in a world made of mineral, vegetative, animal, and human life, the timing of the Jewish New Year is precisely on the day humanity was created. Only at the birth of society does the Prophet pronounce, "This is the day of the beginning of Thy works!"

    The Rebbe sees the "Four Kingdoms" as a compelling idea because we all have the four within us. We all journey from inanimate life to the growth stages and wild, animated existence, but the lesson is that the real celebration can only start once your humanity is born. 

    In other words, I could drive a nice car or eat an expensive steak, but the real party will only start once I discover my human spiritual purpose. If you look at the calendar date for Rosh Hashanah, it's clear that the world itself sees the "mentsch" with a higher purpose as the real cause for celebration. 

    This idea can be tremendously helpful if you ever experience chaos or get so busy that you lose focus. That's because we not only live in a world made of the "Four Kingdoms," we all go through the kingdoms daily. Things like push-ups, eating oatmeal with fresh blueberries, and filling the car with gas, for example, only involve mineral, vegetative, and animal life. But when we pray, study, and help others, we quickly discover the true humanity in our day. 

     It all started 5783 years ago on the sixth day of Creation when G-d created Adam and Eve. When they were "born," Adam and Eve immediately proclaimed: "Come, let us worship, bow down and kneel before G‑d our Maker." At that moment, they inspired the whole universe to work towards a higher purpose of creating an abode for the Divine on earth. At that moment, the human ability to serve a higher power uplifted, engaged, and ultimately allowed everything around them to click. 

    Adam and Eve demonstrated that our purpose and mission to make the world an abode for the Divine is how the "four kingdoms" seamlessly merge into one. The fragmented parts of our lives find wholesomeness specifically through our ultimate purpose. That was the first Rosh Hashanah.
    Happy New Year!
    Rabbi and Mrs. Shluchim
    PS: Please join us for High Holidays Sept. 27th at 11am at the shul and RSVP at www.ChabadYourcity.com 

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