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When Rosh Hashanah Collides with Shabbat

Friday, 18 September, 2020 - 1:18 pm

When Rosh Hashanah Collides with Shabbat 

You may not notice it, but on the evening of the last day of the year  fatigue sets in. The Kabbalah explains that the Divine desire and pleasure which motivates the creation of the universe returns to its source at the end of the year, leaving the world bereft of inner vitality and spiritual enthusiasm. G-d desired to create the world, but every year that desire evaporates back to its source, when G-d asks Himself whether  the project called existence is worth the investment. When the Jewish people gather and sound the Shofar, when they call out to G-d and display their deep desire to connect, that desire elicits  and draws down the Divine desire to once again invest in the universe, unleashing energy that was never before accessible, creating the potential for unprecedented  growth and achievement in the new year. 

When we realize the power of the Shofar to recreate the Divine desire, accessing  new energy for the new year, we wonder about a year when Rosh Hashanah falls out on Shabbat and we therefore do not sound the Shofar. Does that mean that the upcoming year will lack Divine pleasure,energy and potential?  

Chassidic philosophy explains that the energy of Shabbat achieves the same result as the sounding of the Shofar. What is Shabbat? G-d created the world in six days. During creation one is occupied with the process of creating and one cannot focus on the purpose of the project nor can one derive pleasure from the end result since it is not yet available. When building a home, for example, one is occupied with the design, architecture, and construction. It is only when the project is complete that one can experience the purpose of the construction, a home which one can derive pleasure from. The same is true about Shabbat. At the conclusion of  creation, the purpose of creation can unfold, offering immense pleasure to G-d. Therefore, just like the Shofar, the energy of Shabbat elicits Divine pleasure within creation.   

The same is true in our own experience. During the six days of the week we, each in our own way, seek to create, achieve, and succeed. On Shabbat, the Talmud teaches, “one should consider all of his work achieved”. On Shabbat we have the freedom to let go of the drive to achieve and get in touch with the purpose of all our efforts. On Shabbat we experience pleasure and delight when we dedicate ourselves to the spiritual side of life, which is the purpose of everything we have built and achieved during the six days. 

May this upcoming year be a year in which we rededicate ourselves to the gift of Shabbat, by observing its sanctity and delighting in its pleasure. 

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