Torah reading for the 1st day of Rosh HaShannah (Genesis 21:1-34)
“Sarah conceived, and bore Abraham a son in his old age, at the set time of which G-d had spoken to him.”
– Genesis 21:2, JPS 1917 Tanach
According to tradition, Sarah gave birth to Isaac on the 1st of Tishrei. This day is also when we commemorate the Creation of the world, even though the day actually corresponds to the sixth day of creation (Vayikra Rabbah 29:1). The day known as Rosh HaShannah (literally, head of the year) is the Day of Judgment for the new year, when all of mankind is judged.
“u’teshuvah, u’tefillah, u’tsedokah ma’aviyriyn es ro’a hag’zeirrah“
“repentance, prayer, and charity avert the severity of the decree”
The significance of this day, the twenty-fifth day of Elul, is not well known. The 25th day of Elul corresponds to the day that Creation began. Inasmuch that, Rosh HaShannah is associated with the creation of the world, Tishrei 1st is denoted as “the birthday of the world.” Yet, Rosh HaShannah is actually “the birthday of Adam.’
What is the difference? The beginning of the creation of the world began on yom echad, literally, one day. Adam was created on the sixth day. The sages explain that Tishrei 1st actually corresponds to the sixth day. Therefore, counting backwards five days, Elul 25 is “yom echad.”
Why is this important? Adam was the first witness, so to speak, of G-d’s creation. Although creation began on yom echad, the world was not actually acknowledged by the first human being, until the sixth day when Adam was created.
Every facet of creation was in place, at the time H’Shem crowned His creation with mankind. So, perhaps, we commemorate Rosh HaShannah as “the birthday of the world,” because, nobody existed on earth prior to that day, to appreciate G-d’s creation.
L’Shannah tovah tikateivu.
May you have a good year, and be inscribed (in the Book of Life).
the Simplicity of Faith
“And H’Shem, He it is that doth go before thee; He will be with thee, He will not fail thee, neither forsake thee; fear not, neither be dismayed.”
– Deuteronomy 31:8, JPS 1917 Tanach
Moshe encouraged Joshua and the people, for they were about to cross into the Promised Land. He told them that H’Shem would go before them; so they should not fear, for He would be with them. To have emunah (faith), in this respect, is to trust that H’Shem would strengthen them, so that a dependence on Him could be fostered, rather than relying on their own strength. In this way, their enemies would be defeated – through H’Shem.
The same is true today, that H’Shem would like us to return to the simplicity of emunah, by looking towards Him in all things (Proverbs 3:6-8). For He will lead us forward through the nisyanos (challenges) of our lives. When we are in a quandry, not able to see the light, there is a narrow path through which we may return to Him; thereby, stepping out of the existential mire that has accumulated in our lives, because of our own negligence and aveiros (transgressions). Whereof teshuvah is the means that allows us to seek Him again, when we have made the wrong choices in the past, having turned away from the Torah given at Sinai.
“Turn Thou us unto Thee, O L-RD, and we shall be turned; Renew our days as of old.”
– Lamentations 5:21, JPS 1917 Tanach