Reb Zalman Teaching for Rosh Hashanah

For Rosh Hashanah (Zeh Hayom)

This piece was originally published on the website of the Reb Zalman Legacy Project, Seth Fishman, editor

This is a translation of Reb Zalman’s Rosh Hashanah piece, published before in its original Hebrew here.

“This day is [the anniversary of] the start of Your handiwork, a remembrance of the first day.”

Much is written on these verses and to this, behold, I add, from what Hashem has graced me about this current age, as it is written, “You are all standing this day,” in our era at which time even we, who are on the level of “your water drawers” or “your woodcutters”, the entire leadership of Israel during the days of ikvata d’mashicha relies on us holding it up.

And as is put forward in sefarim, the point of Rosh Hashanah is binyan hamalchut as we pray, “reign over the whole world in Your dignity.” And besides what one needs to be in shofar blowing, (simple strain of “Father, merciful father”), there is much else that is cast our way from the level of itaruta d’l'tata / arousal from below, that is begun for us in the month of Elul which begins with [Aleph Lamed] Ani L-dodi V‘dodi Li / I am my beloved’s - in arousal from below, - and so too the month of Tishrei, i.e. they begin from the end of the alphabet - going upwards — Tav-Shin-Reish-Kuf and after, V’dodi Li / my beloved is mine.

And what is our role? To raise Binyan hamalchut! “Pronounce before me verses of malchuyot, etc” (in order to make me your Sovereign) and through this we arouse the Divine will to be our king for another year. And some particular efforts on our part are needed to make us worthy of this service.

Malchuyot: To add power into the supernal governance - a time to “please let the power of Hashem increase” for there are some whose core intention is to strengthen Judaism or establish the nation but they don’t put their hearts behind it, for the treasure of Hashem’s power as it is made to appear in the life of the universe is a vacuum for we do not concern ourselves with the needs of on High. But in what will the treasure of God’s power become fulfilled? Israel is a provider for their Father in heaven - through the Torah, and mitzvot that soar upward.  But lacking the devotion of awe and love - which serve them as wings, the prayers don’t fly. And therefore, “It is our duty to praise, etc.” with generosity of spirit to invest our energy to add power to the Malchut of Heaven that will bring a good k’tivah v’chatimah on our behalf.

And regarding the subject of Malchuyot, what is it in our lives? For we have valuations on the level of one higher than the next - our priorities and it is for us to do a fair assessment.  In any priority, we should invest kavvanah and energy to the spiritual life, the upright life. For it’s not enough that we pray in our prayers, “Write us into this or that book,” if we are not writing our own qvittel / note for ourselves. For from the heavens they answer, “Why do you cry out to Me? You should write the plans for the coming year.” And to do this, it is our task to evaluate the priorities in such a way as this, that the governing priority, the malchut, in our lives will be in the service of holiness and uprightness.

And what, regarding the subject of Zichronot?  For Hashem remembers all forgotten things. Oy! How many times in the year did we hear the broadcast of the bat kol, “Repent, etc.” How many times when it instilled upon us the inspiration of holiness we decided to raise the state of our consciousness.  But alas, that all these inspirations - “theophanies,” as a dream evaporated and even though for a time we felt God’s nearness, we put a stop to living by their counsel, these holy moments disappeared from our memory. And on Rosh Hashanah, we need to delve into our memory and to bring forth the holy moments which we felt, into consciousness and with them, to write our qvittel for the coming year.

And what, regarding the subject of Shofarot?  “Sound the great shofar for our freedom,” for still we are prisoners of habit that has become second natured and how many of the things to which we are accustomed don’t help for chayyim tovim / a good life. And we already taught that if we want to get a footing for ourselves on holy ground the bat kol confirmed that we need to unlock the shackles of our habits and go out from the brutal slavery of exile of “addiction.” For if we are still slaves of habit which offers no help for living in a way in which we can in joy face Hashem, we will not be able to hope for a signing and sealing for a good life for the coming year.

Therefore, it is upon us to pray on behalf of the raising of strength and power of Hashem that will magnify and sanctify the name of the Holy one blessed be He in our world. “Today, may You strengthen us, today, may You bless us, today, may You exalt us.”