A Message from the Kalever Rebbe for Rosh Hashanah 5776


kaliver-rebbeOn the eve of Rosh Hashanah, we pray, “may it be Your Will, Hashem, that we should be l’Rosh – for a head, not for a tail.”

This verse hints to the following concept: One of the main things that interrupt our Avodas Hashem (service of God), is the fact that people do not understand the greatness of the power of speech. Because of this, they disregard the importance of Torah Study and Prayer, which are merely words, since they do not realize the truth. Even though spoken words are ethereal without any physical substance, and cannot be seen with the eyes, the power of holy words is tremendous, and can accomplish great things, They can actually be conduits to bring down energy of blessing, life-force, and rectification to all of Creation.

However, in our modern day & age, it is actually easy to understand and emphasize this concept. We can clearly see something similar to this in the physical world. One can whisper into a telephone, even in a locked room, and the words can be carried immediately in any direction. At that very moment we can hear the words clearly in the entire world. A voice can be heard by radio even on the moon and in outer space, and yet the voice does not mingle with the voices of the billions of other people in the world. The radio waves pass through all structures and walls independently, and its words can have tremendous impact far away through technology, such as satellites. Also, great damage can be caused by technological advances such as shooting rockets and missiles, even though they cannot see anything. If this is true in the physical realm, then it is all the more so in the spiritual aspect of speech. The Creator of the World commanded us to speak words of Torah and prayer, which go up with massive power, thereby impacting and granting life-force and rectifications for the entire universe.

Our sages say that words of Torah and prayer is of utmost importance to the world, yet somehow people fail to take this seriously. This is something which requires encouragement to prevent us from feeling embarrassed by those who mock us. It is quite the opposite, we must work hard to teach and bring this concept to the minds of other people, so they too can recognize the importance of the words of Torah and prayer. One must especially teach this concept to their sons and daughters. This is something we learned from our earliest ancestors, Avraham, Sarah, and Rivkah, as we will see:

Avraham Avinu was the first Jew, and he understood by his own wisdom that there cannot be a palace without a Master. He thus recognized the Creator even though he grew up in a pagan and Godless society. By virtue of his wisdom and tremendous faith in Hashem, he opposed his father, his family, and his entire generation, who were all heathens, and gave his life for Hashem. He made it his mission to reach out and bring other people close to Hashem through his teachings. The first thing he taught people was the power of speech, to use our words to thank and praise Hashem. The Midrash tells us (Bereishis Rabbah 21:33) that Avraham made a tent to welcome wayfarers, and Avraham would give them bread, meat, and wine to eat and drink. After his guests ate and drank, Avraham told them to bless the God of the World, since everything they enjoyed is His. Avraham did this together with his wife Sarah Imenu, as it is written, “and the souls they made in Haran” (Genesis 12:5). Rashi explains that they brought people under the sheltering Wings of the Shechinah, as Avraham converted the men and Sarah converted the women, therefore the Torah counts as if they have created them.

They also taught this concept to their son, Yitzchak Avinu, who excelled in this trait greatly, to the point that he was ready to give up his life for Hashem at the Akeidah because of his tremendous faith. This is why Avraham established that we should pray Shachris in the morning to request everything we need from Hashem, and his son Yitzchak learned the power of prayer from his father, and added that we should pray another prayer service, the afternoon service of Minchah.

Rivkah Imenu also followed this path. She opposed the ways of her family and native home, who were wicked people, and she taught her son Yaakov Avinu the great power of saying words of Torah. Therefore, when Yaakov became a pauper after Eliphaz took all of his money on the way to Padan Aram, and he was worried that he would not be able to stand up against the temptations of living among wicked people, he first went to study Torah in yeshiva for 14 years. He knew that the power of the Holy Torah would protect him and save him from sin. It was only after that time in yeshiva that he was ready to spend time living near Lavan, and was able to continue his observance of all 613 Mitzvos. In this merit he was successful and became wealthy, just like his grandfather Avraham who stood up against all of the tests and became wealthy. All the future generations continued to follow this path of Torah and prayer, and gave their lives to the Creator amidst their faith. We also must follow the path of our Patriarchs and pass on to our children the importance of words of Torah and prayer.

This may also be the meaning of what we pray on the eve of Rosh Hashanah that we should be “l’Rosh”, as “Rosh” stands for “Rivkah, Avraham, Sarah.” We pray that the entire new year should be good for us, that we should live our lives like Avraham, Sarah, and Rivkah, to teach our children the importance of Torah and prayer.

May it be Hashem’s Will that we should be worthy to guidance from Heaven to strengthen ourselves and others in Torah and prayer throughout the entire year. May we merit to be inscribed and blessed for a good and sweet new year with all kinds of Hashpaos Tovos.

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