As is customary whenever Jews meet, we will "open with blessing." This custom is particularly appropriate in the beginning of a new year. Although the year begins on Rosh HaShanah,
in regard to our service within the material world -- and this, the mission to make this world "a dwelling for G-d in the lower worlds," is the responsibility of every Jew -- the year begins at present. For the month of Tishrei is a month of festivals, when the service within the context of the routines of ordinary life is not emphasized.
This is further reflected in the fact that the letters of the name Tishrei, (ëÿÖÜ) can be rearranged to form the word reishis (ÜëÖÿ), meaning "beginning" or "head." Just as the head is above the body as a whole, Tishrei is above the entire year. Although the head directs the functioning of the other limbs, it is the other limbs which actually carry out these directives. Similarly, in the above context, our service in the world at large begins after the month of Tishrei.
The Zohar relates that G-d "gazed into the Torah and created the world." Thus it follows that every entity in the world is reflected within the Torah. Furthermore, it is not because the entity exists in the world that it exists within the Torah, but rather as a result of the existence of an entity within the Torah, it is later drawn down into the world at large. Thus when one "gazes" at an entity as it exists within the Torah, one appreciates its source and truth. Our service of making a dwelling for G-d in this lower world consists of drawing down the spiritual qualities possessed by the entity as it exists within the Torah to the world at large.
Needless to say, the entity as it exists in a physical sense does not exist in the Torah. For example, although the Torah speaks of the creation of the heavens, the heavens as they exist with their full expanse do not exist within the Torah. Nevertheless, the true nature of the heavens and all the other entities in this world can be appreciated only through the Torah. What G-d desires, however, is the reality as it exists in Torah be drawn down into this material world so that the world be made a dwelling for Him.
The word "dwelling" implies a place which is representative of the one who dwells within. Thus, when stating that the world will be established as a "dwelling" for G-d, we imply that His essential qualities will be revealed on this plane.
The same applies in regard to a dwelling for a Jew. Since the Jews are G-d's chosen people, their dwellings must be different than those of other nations. Similarly, Eretz Yisrael which is the dwelling for the Jewish people as a whole, must be distinct from other lands. Its connection with the Jewish people must be open and revealed.
Herein, there is a point of connection to the directive, "Make this place Eretz Yisrael," that every Jew -- man, woman, and child -- should make his home and/or room a Jewish dwelling, a place where the connection to Yiddishkeit is openly revealed. In this context, the name Yisrael (îÇÿÖë) is significant, for it can be divided into two words ÖÇÿ ëî "a head for Me." I.e., G-d considers every Jew as His head as it were, for His conception of the Jewish people is rooted in His very essence.
Positive influence to carry out this service has been generated from the time which we spent together, meeting in a manner that reflects the verse "How good and how sweet it is for brothers to dwell together." (This implies that there is nothing as good or as sweet as our being together and that our being together generates pleasure for G-d, as it were.)
This is particularly true in regard to our present meeting which is being held in a synagogue, a house of study, and a place where resolutions are taken to carry out positive activities. Similarly, in this place tzedakah is distributed and festive meals associated with mitzvos are held. For this place, as other synagogues, is not merely a place of prayer and study, but as implied by the literal meaning of the word Beis K'nesses, it is a place where Jews gather together for a variety of positive purposes.
For this reason, this place should be spacious, giving each person an opportunity to have his own place for prayer, to which he goes two or three times a day. Although there are three prayer services, mention was made of two or three times, because in the Talmudic period and similarly, in the Middle Ages, prayer services were held only twice a day. They would recite the evening service directly after the afternoon service while it was still day so that they could return home before nightfall.
The fact that they lived in such fear at night reflects one of the great advances that has taken place in the present age. In the Middle Ages, although the Jews lived in a their own neighborhoods, they needed special protection at night. In contrast, in the present age, the world at large is characterized by peace and tranquility, brotherly love and unity, and there is no need for extra protection. We can rely on the fact that "G-d is your Protector."
This is particularly true since every Jew is also granted the unique Divine protection that is associated with having a mezuzah on every door, even the doors of the children's bedroom, of one's home. Because one has a mezuzah on his door, "G-d will watch your going and your coming from now and for all time." Wherever a Jew is found in the world, the mezuzah which is on his door protects him.
Similarly, while we were together, special Divine protection was granted to those individuals who journeyed away from their homes. They were granted unique Divine blessings for success. They will continue to benefit from positive Divine influence as they return home. For their journey will be permeated by the understanding that our separation is only geographic and from a spiritual perspective, we remain together in a manner of "How good and how sweet it is for brothers to dwell together."
In addition to the positive nature of this oneness in and of itself, it also leads to a variety of positive activities as reflected in our Sages' statement, "Two people who sit together and share the words of Torah." Since they sit together, they will surely share words of Torah, for this is the true desire of every single Jew. When a Jew sits -- and yoshaiv "sit" in Hebrew has the connotation of dwelling in a state of material and spiritual peace of mind -- he will surely share words of Torah with another Jew. The above is enhanced when many Jews gather together, for "whenever ten Jews -- and how much more so, more than ten Jews -- gather together, the Divine Presence rests among them."
The oneness which characterizes the Jewish people will soon be realized in the fullest sense with the ultimate ingathering of the Jews to Eretz Yisrael in the Era of the Redemption; "all of [the land's] inhabitants will dwell upon it." The word "inhabitants," yoshvehah, relates to the word hisyashvus meaning "settled," and implies that the inhabitants of Eretz Yisrael will dwell with peace of mind and security.
And they will dwell on the entire land, not only the land of the seven Canaanite nations, but also on the lands of the Keini, Kenizi, and Kadmoni, as G-d promised Avraham.
The fulfillment of this promise will be hastened by the distribution of money for you to give to tzedakah. Tzedakah spreads unity among the Jews, a goal which each of you must have as you return to your homes. This unity will prepare our people for the ultimate expression of unity that will take place in the Era of the Redemption. Herein, there is also a connection to tzedakah, for "tzedakah brings the Redemption near." May it take place in the immediate future.
The Yechidus with Bar and Bas Mitzvah Youth
In addition to the blessings mentioned above, you are singled out for special attention because of the unique event that is happening in your life, your reaching the milestone of Bar or Bas Mitzvah. For on a person's Bar or Bas Mitzvah, he receives a direct commandment from G-d to fulfill His mitzvos and to study His Torah throughout the coming year.
This is particularly true in the present year, "a year imbued with wonders." This will be enhanced by the good resolutions to observe the Torah and its mitzvos which each of you took upon yourselves. The willingness to make such a commitment reveals the fundamental inherent tendency possessed by every Jew to fulfill G-d's will.
The parents, grandparents, relatives, and teachers who help bring to this event surely have good reason to celebrate together with you. As an expression of this happiness and vitality, each of you should make additional donations to tzedakah on the day of your Bar or Bas Mitzvah. "Tzedakah brings the Redemption near" and in the Era of the Redemption, we will all increase our observance of the mitzvos, for then we will be able to fulfill the mitzvos that are associated with Eretz Yisrael. And we will hold our next farbrengen there, with "our youth and our elders... our sons and our daughters," with the coming of the Redemption in the immediate future.
The Yechidus of Brides and Grooms
In addition to the blessings mentioned above, you are worthy of special blessings, since you have made the commitment to establish a Jewish home on the foundation of the Torah and its mitzvos and to raise children who will involve themselves in the study of the Torah and the observance of its mitzvos. This should be the focus of the wedding, the preparations for it, and the subsequent celebrations.
This will serve as a preparation for the fulfillment of the prophecy, "Soon, there will be heard in the cities of Judah and the outskirts of Jerusalem,... the voice of a groom and the voice of a bride" with the coming of the Redemption.
This will be hastened by the fulfillment of the custom of giving generously to tzedakah on the day of one's wedding, for this will increase the joy and happiness of the occasions, and will emphasize that the wedding is associated with the entire Jewish people. And thus it will evoke, as it were, unbounded joy from the source of all joy, G-d Himself.
And from the celebrations of your weddings, we will proceed to the ultimate celebration, the coming of the Redemption led by Mashiach.
- (Back to text) Indeed, Rosh HaShanah serves as the "head of the year" as explained on other occasions, including the life-energy for all the days of the year as the head includes the life-energy for the entire body.
- (Back to text) Although several of the body's 248 "limbs" are included in the head, their functioning as limbs is different from their functioning as part of the head.
- (Back to text) A similar pattern must be reflected in the conduct of every Jew. A Jew's life must mirror the spiritual qualities present in the world at large. Similarly, the reflection of spirituality in material existence is applicable to him, i.e., his physical activities should reflect the thoughts of his mind. Moreover, his physical being should be an expression of the true spiritual reality.
- (Back to text) I.e., the door to his house, and more particularly, the door to his room.
- (Back to text) The protection granted to a Jew is associated with the fact that the mezuzah contains the verse Shema Yisrael which states that "G-d is One." This implies that G-d is present in every place in the world -- and similarly in the entire spiritual cosmos.
This protection is enhanced by the fact that a Jew recites the Shema twice a day. Indeed, the Shema is recited more than twice a day, for example, the Shema is recited before retiring at night and during the Musaf service on Shabbos and festivals.
- (Back to text) The term "brothers" in this verse refers to all Jews -- men, women, and children -- for they all join together in oneness.
- (Back to text) Even when one Jew sits alone, he will be involved in Torah study and G-d will cause His Presence to rest upon him. This does not, however, reflect the same degree of Divine revelation as when two study together, for then the vibrant give and take of Torah study will bring them to a deeper and truer appreciation of the Torah's intent.
- (Back to text) In this instance, the Divine Presence rests among them even when they are not involved with the words of Torah.
- (Back to text) G-d's promise to Avraham is relevant to each of us, his descendants, for the spiritual legacy which he imparted to us is the fundamental dimension of our identity.
- (Back to text) As explained on several occasions, wonders are even greater than miracles.
- (Back to text) Herein, we see a connection to Rosh HaShanah which is characterized by the service of Kabbalas Ol, the acceptance of G-d's yoke.
- (Back to text) If the Bar Mitzvah falls on Shabbos or a festival, the donations should be made on the day beforehand or the day afterwards.