Contact Us

The Kabbalistic Spin on Rosh Hashanah

The Kabbalistic Spin on Rosh Hashanah


On Rosh Hashanah, Jews worldwide flock to their synagogues and beseech the Almighty to grant them, their families, and all of Israel a peaceful, happy and prosperous year. According to Jewish tradition, on Rosh Hashanah every creation passes before the Supernal Judge. He determines who will live and who will not, who will be prosperous and healthy and who will not. Everything which will occur in the coming year is decided on Rosh Hashanah.

Why is everything determined on an annual basis? Can’t an eternal and infinite G‑d plan a little further in advance? Would it not be more time- and energy-efficient to judge perhaps a hundred or a thousand years at once?

Why is everything determined on an annual basis? Can’t an eternal and infinite G‑d plan a little further in advance?Rosh Hashanah commemorates the sixth day of Creation, the day when G‑d formed Adam and Eve and breathed into their nostrils the breath of life. An understanding of the dynamic of creation will explain the significance of Rosh Hashanah.

Certain things are taken for granted. For example, when we turn on a sink faucet, we expect and assume that water will emerge from the tap. Or, a child in most households who opens the refrigerator expects to find food on its shelves. In truth, however, neither the water nor the food appear on their own. There is a well-staffed company which maintains the water pipes and pumps necessary to draw water from the reservoir into the residential home, and parents invest incredible energy to stock the refrigerator.

The same is true with creation. It seems that the world stands on its own. We assume that that which existed a moment ago will continue existing a moment later. But, in fact, the Creator is perpetually maintaining the cosmos. In the absence of the steady flow of divine energy, all would cease to exist, much as the water in the tap would stop flowing if the water company went under.

And every once in a while, or once a year to be more precise, G‑d loses interest in His creation pastime. We were created because G‑d desired to be a beneficent king, and consequently we, His subjects, came into being: creatures upon whom G‑d could heap His otherwise unused infinite capacity for kindness. But at the onset of every year’s Rosh Hashanah, G‑d loses interest, as it were, in His finite and flawed subjects. He withdraws, becomes introverted, and we need to provide Him with an incentive to continue creating for one more year.

This isn’t because He has a short attention span and habitually loses interest in projects before they reach completion. Rather, this phenomenon is part and parcel of the master plan.

When G‑d originally created this world, there was nothing which elicited that grand gesture. There was no one around yet to elicit anything; it was an act of pure kindness. But ultimately, “pure kindness” isn’t so kind after all. It leaves its beneficiary feeling unworthy of undeserved beneficence. That’s why G‑d created a world wherein everything, even our existence itself, is rightfully earned. If the world will remain in existence for another year, it will be because we stimulated G‑d’s desire to continue on course.

“Pure kindness” isn’t so kind after all. It leaves its beneficiary feeling unworthy . . .Thus, on Rosh Hashanah, the anniversary of our creation, it is up to us to ensure that everything continues.

We go to the synagogue and proclaim, “Reign over the entire world in Your glory.” We “remind” G‑d of His love for His chosen people, reaccept Him as our absolute King, and express our innermost desire to serve Him for yet another year. We “remind” Him of the enthusiasm He originally had when creating the world almost 6,000 years ago.

And when words fail us, due their inherent inability to communicate the deepest heartfelt feelings, we take a shofar, a medium whose simple weeping notes convey the wordless cry and request which emanates from the core of our souls—“Father, King, we need You and love You, and we know that the feelings are mutual!”

This Rosh Hashanah, as we congregate in the synagogues, let us bear in mind that what hangs in the balance in the coming year is more than our personal welfare. All of creation is counting on us. Let us wholeheartedly commit ourselves to G‑d, and He will surely reciprocate by committing to grant all of us a beautiful and meaningful year.

Rabbi Naftali Silberberg is a writer, editor and director of the curriculum department at the Rohr Jewish Learning Institute. Rabbi Silberberg resides in Brooklyn, New York, with his wife, Chaya Mushka, and their three children.
© Copyright, all rights reserved. If you enjoyed this article, we encourage you to distribute it further, provided that you comply with's copyright policy.
Join the Discussion
Sort By:
1000 characters remaining
E.B Baisden new york September 30, 2016

i think that when the worlds are in creation G-d is at rest - fragmented, if you will. And creation is the dream state of G-d. Thus as you say "G‑d loses interest in His creation pastime. I don't agree that "We were created because G‑d desired to be a beneficent king, " I think when G -d emerges out of sleep / fragmentation, then creation ends. We as fragments of consciousness are no longer maintain to be custodians of consciousness and so the collective I ams merge again into the one I am - G-d. So Rosh Hashanah looks forward to the times when the responsibilty of consciousness is transferred. But in the meantime reminds us of the responsibility as helpers.. Reply

ruth housman marshfield hills, ma October 2, 2011

Voiced and Unvoiced Me too, Tshuvah, another return. So many diverse voices, some Jewish, some not, responsive and sensitive. Waving antennae.
Shalom Chaverim.

As for me, feeling as I do, that G_d is speaking, through us all, I have this overwhelming wish to ask G_d for one thing and that is: to be free to love G_d with all my heart, with all my soul, and with all my might and not in the very depths of this, knowing it's all G_d. That we are part of this whole which is greater than us all.

I am saying, to vibrate with so much LOVE and also to know I am part, as you are, of something far far greater than myself, is to feel the desire to ask, that being me, I have that total freedom of loving. To choose to love even if it is so ordered.

G_d never stopped speaking. Turn up the volume! In silence, sigh.

Does this make sense?

We, divine souls, lead storied lives that do appear scripted. Towards the angst of ethical choice.

Wthin silence, sigh. Listen to G_d. Turn up, the Volume. "His Master's Voice". Reply

Marilyn Bitton Cranston, RI via October 2, 2011

I Love reading the comments Reply

ruth Housman marshfield hills, ma October 2, 2011

The Seal of Solomon I came upon a little book at Barnes and Noble that shows how within the intersect of circles we can create intricate, repeating patterns, and that within this intersect we can create with precision the Seal of Solomon, the Star of David. This is how intricate patterns are made, that form the beauty of Islamic tiles, the rose windows of churches, the beautiful symmetries we can create in rugs, and it is these mathematical properties of intersecting circles, so perfect, that form the spirals of the sunflower, and the awesome tree of Kabbala. G_d, the mathematician!

The beauty of this will send me to a store to buy a compass and protractor to try this for myself, because there is something magic about learning this way, by doing.

Wherever we look, and I see it so beautifully in these pages, there are massive connects, through language, through our lives, from one to the other, telling me that we are truly One, and this is an echoic mirror of what's Divine, within, and without.

Marvel! Reply

Anna Cortez(Nee Kotrys) Lanark, Scotland September 30, 2011

I love your writings here..I am blessed to 'know' the Book of Life' exists as I was shown this in a dream the day before I died(for a second) the following day on the operating table..although I am not Jewish I feel that I am as for years I talked to G-d but only heard his voice when he chose..I accept what you say is right about G-d..I felt at 'home' firs time I accidentally discovered Chabad. and now realise it perhaps was no accident...this is a wonderful story and also comments too..I am 'preveliged' to have stumbled upon Chabad. and continue to learn each day from their sites..Happy, Peaceful and Healthy Rosh Hashanah to All over the world.. Reply

ruth housman marshfield hills, ma September 28, 2011

U R re Sound of the Shofar

Consider that the ram is also in English, Random Access Memory, an acronym we use in computer language. Consider that U R, as in YOU ARE, as in also URL You Are El, speaks deeply to the Divine in us all (we are all on the WEB, the internet, and part of a deep connective matrix), and that UR is where Abraham lived, our patriarch who spoke about ONE G_D.

So far is within the word shofar, and I feel, we've come a long long way, and maybe The Way, the yellow brick road for us all, is about tikkun olam. We can do it!

OZ borne in Toto, with Toto. Reply

Nancy Alibag - Raigad, Maharsashtra - India September 28, 2011

Sound the Shofar To, Elaine Deschamps, Beloeil, Canada

Even if u r not a Jew, u can hear the Sound of Shofar on Jewish New Year being personally at the Synagogue with prior permission of the Head of the Synagogue. If u really wish to hear Shofar, try ur best to take permission and be there. Reply

Rick Asensio Leura, New South Wales, Australia September 28, 2011

Gilgul We must, as Jews galvanize ourselveles to creating a physical place for G-d to dwell in, that occured in Jerusalem....but that is on permanent HOLD! at the moment. This takes many souls over many lifetimes. Perfection of the soul through spiritual discipline is the way to perfecting the soul. As the Buddhists say "the way to nirvana!" Still it can and has to be done. It is the way to G-dhead!
Why don't we as Jews talk more openly about what we believe is the transmigration of souls. For me Gilgul is a centre of all Judaic reality. Reply

ruth housman marshfield hills, ma September 27, 2011

Prescription for LOVE and, to LOVE This I know, and it's a deep kind of knowing, and that is, G_d wrote THIS story and it is perhaps refreshed for us, in the New Year, Rosh Hashona, but the entire story is pre scripted, How do I know this? Well in looking down the years I see massive threads that connect my self to my story, in ways I could not perceive before, and to a story that was written long before I arrived on the scene, being born.

I DO DEEPLY BELIEVE, God is THE master storyteller, and that YES, we are written for another year in the Book of Life, some of us, and some not, and this is not dependent on our good deeds. We all have a "shelf" life, but I also believe as shell is to shelf, that there is another story running, and it's not over when it's over.

Certainly mystic Jews believe in the migrations of soul, and yes, I do believe, in The Grateful Dead. I believe by an intense alchemy, that we do perceive from the "other side" and dimly here, "they", meaning those beloved of G_d, US, are still, extant. Reply

Elaine Deschamps Beloeil, Canada via September 28, 2008

Sound the shofar ! I'am not a Jewish person , I do not have Jewish blood running in my veins...but I love G-d. I will pray the Eternal and tell Him that His people are beautiful ..I will remind Him of His people and that they love Him and need Him. I wish that I could be part of the Jewish culture and be with His people to hear the shofar. May G-d remember all of you and place you all in His tender heart and in His eternal thoughts. Happy new year. Reply

Rhoda Friedman Portland, Oregon September 25, 2008

ROSH HASHANAH Rabbi Silverberg:

Shana Tova! Thank you for your deep insight and iinspiration on the Kabbalistic Spiritual Spin - emotionally and on an insightful plain.

I actually was born and raised in Brooklyn, N.Y. - grew up in Coney Island - how blessed and fortunate I was - eventually moved to Bensonhurst.

Thank you Reply

Chanoch Hankerson (Hankerssohn) Grand Forks, ND (USA) September 25, 2008

I enjoyed your essay Rav Silberberg. Shalom. Reply

Related Topics
Find Services
Audio Classes
Holiday Songs
Kids Zone
Holiday Shopping Recipes
Free Greeting Cards