Today the World was Conceived

senior sephardi rabbi dweck“What day is it?”

“It’s today,” squeaked Piglet.

“My favorite day,” said Pooh.

 ― A.A. Milne, Winnie the Pooh

ROSH HASHANA 5775:
SEPTEMBER 24, 2014

After hearing the sound of the shofar on Rosh HaShana, we say “Hayom harat olam”, which means,  “today the world was conceived”. Rosh HaShana stands in our calendar as the day we celebrate and acknowledge all of the world’s possibilities, dreams, and goals that G-d put into it at its conception. Rosh HaShana, therefore, assumes that the world has a purpose and a future and that all of history is the story of the universe coming into itself.

Knowing that G-d has a plan for the world allows us to see the days of our lives as elements of a continuum. To celebrate Rosh HaShana is to celebrate the idea that existence is comprised of more than just the current moment. Because G-d “announced the generations at the start”[1] we see past and future as realities that exist and that inform our local experiences. It is as Viktor Frankl writes in Man’s Search for Meaning:

‘I never tire of saying that the only really transitory aspects of life are the potentialities; but as soon as they are actualised, they are rendered realities…for in the past, nothing is irretrievably lost but everything irrevocably stored’.

In seeing the world this way, every day becomes a precious piece of a whole life. As we live our days, the degree of care we put into each of them directly affects the quality of the whole. The more we love, care, feel, think, focus, and learn, the more vibrant and vivid the life that emerges. On Rosh HaShana we all take the time to pause and meditate on the path our lives are following. The sound of the shofar awakens us so that we may ask ourselves core questions about the course of our lives. Am I on a successful path? Am I living consciously? Is it time for change? Have I chosen to live my best possible life? Together with the Creator, we make these judgements on Rosh HaShana. On the anniversary of the world’s conception we look at our current life superimposed against the backdrop of the life we wish to create.

Rosh HaShana, also referred to as Yom HaZikaron, the Day of Memory, brings our past, present and future before us. In our mind’s eye we can see ourselves both as children and elderly people simultaneously. We understand that life is like a passing shadow, and there is no day like today to get about the business of making it the best life it can be. May the new year and its blessings begin. תחל שנה וברכותיה.

Tizku LeShanim Rabot,

Rabbi Joseph Dweck
Senior Rabbi Spanish & Portuguese Jewish Community

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[1] Yishaya, 41:4 – מי פעל ועשה קורא הדורות מראש אני ה׳…