On Tishrei 1 -- the sixth day of creation -- "G-d said: 'Let us make Man in Our image, after Our likeness; and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth...'" (Genesis 1:26). "G-d formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul" (ibid., 2:7). "And G-d took the man and placed him in the Garden of Eden, to work it and to keep it" (2:15). "And G-d said: 'It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helpmeet opposite him' ... G-d caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and he slept; and He took one of his sides, and closed up the flesh in its place. And G-d built the side which He had taken from the man into a woman, and brought her to the man. And the man said: 'This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.' Therefore a man leaves his father and his mother, and cleaves to his wife; and they become one flesh" (2:18-24).
On the very day he was created, man committed the first sin of history, transgressing the divine commandment not to eat from the "Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil." Adam and Eve were banished from the Garden, and mankind became subject to death, labor and moral confusion. But on that day the first man and woman also repented their sin, introducing the concept and opportunities of teshuvah ("return") into the human experience.
On the 1st of Tishrei, on the 307th day of the Great Flood, Noach dispatched a dove from the ark, for the third time (see "On This Date" for Elul 17 and Elul 23). When the dove did not return, Noah knew that the Flood's waters had completely drained from the earth. On that day, Noach removed the roof of the ark; but Noah and his family, and all the animals, remained in the ark for another 57 days -- until the 27th of Cheshvan -- when the suface of the earth was completely dry and G-d commanded them to leave the ark and resettle and reppopulate the earth.
Abraham's supreme test of faith -- his binding of Isaac in preparation to
sacrifice him as per G-d's command -- occurred on the 1st of Tishrei of the year
2084 from creation (1677 BCE), and is recalled each Rosh Hashanah with the
sounding of the shofar (ram's horn -- a ram was sacrificed in Isaac's stead when
an angel revealed that the command to sacrifice Isaac was but a divine test);
the Torah's account of the event is
publicly read in the synagogue on the 2nd day of Rosh Hashanah. On the day of
Isaac's binding, his mother, Sarah, passed away at age 127, and was subsequently
buried in the Machpelah Cave in Hebron.
In a letter to his brother-in-law, Rabbi Gershon
Kitover, the Baal Shem Tov relates: "On Rosh Hashanah of the year 5507 [from
creation] I made an 'ascent of soul' in the manner known to you... I ascended
level after level until I reached the chamber of Moshiach... And I asked
Moshiach: "When will the Master come?" And he replied: "When your teachings will
be disseminated and revealed in the world, and your wellsprings will spread to
the outside..." (Keter Shem Tov 1:1).
The "Daf Yomi" daily regimen of Talmud study (in which the participant studies one folio a day to complete the entire Talmud in seven years) initiated by Rabbi Meir Shapiro of Lublin, was launched on Rosh Hashanah of 1923.
In the course of the morning and musaf service, the shofar (ram's horn) is sounded one hundred times, in various combinations of tekiah (a long blast), shevarim
(a trio of broken sobs) and teruah (a staccato of short notes),
in fulfillment of the primary mitzvah of Rosh Hashanah. The shofar serves
to trumpet our coronation of G-d as King
of the Universe, as a call to repentance,
and to evoke the memory of the Binding ofIsaac.
The 10-day period beginning on Rosh Hashahnah and ending on Yom Kippur is known as the "Ten Days of Repentance"; this is the period, say the sages, of which the prophet speaks when he proclaims (Isaiah 55:6) "Seek G-d when He is to be found; call on Him when He is near." Psalm 130, Avinu Malkeinu and other special inserts and additions are included in our daily prayers during these days.
The Baal Shem Tov
instituted the custom of reciting three additional chapters of
Psalms each day, from the 1st of Elul until Yom Kippur (on
Yom Kippur the remaining 36 chapters are recited, thereby completing the entire
book of Psalms). Click below for today's three Psalms.
More than Rosh Hashanah is about the One Above, it is about us below. He created the world. But we drive it to its destiny.
That is why it is called “the beginning of Your works”—even though it is not the anniversary of the creation of the universe, but of the human being. It is the true beginning, as all of time begins on this day.
Because on this day, more than any other, we are empowered to switch tracks, to transform our destiny and thereby the destiny of all of creation. Through us, the bitter darkness that shrouded truth and goodness can become a flaming torch of light.
All is defined by destiny. Even the past is redefined by the arrow of its future. The very existence of that time that held that past is re-created once it achieves its hidden destiny. A destiny that only you can reveal.
That is all that matters: Now, the first day of all of time, future and past.