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Why No Wild Party on Rosh Hashanah?

Why No Wild Party on Rosh Hashanah?



Everyone else has a great time celebrating their New Year’s Day. Why do we take ours so seriously? What’s this whole judgment deal? Why all the prayers? Can’t we just party?


If you would know the drama that’s going on, you would zip out of the wildest party to be there. Imagine the entire universe in reboot. Imagine a mega-surge of creative energy, enough to power the whole of reality for an entire year. Imagine a system loading parameters for every galaxy, star, planet, organism, cell, protein, molecule and atom over a 48-hour period, and you’re starting to get the idea. And you? You are adjusting the input at every step.

You see, time doesn’t run smoothly. It’s not just some steady stream, like a train of cars one neatly shlepped after the other. It’s more like a pulse, with each new moment carefully and deliberately articulated through the medium of a cosmic soul that powers all life and existence. Every year, that packet of energy slips back to its primal zero state. From this point on—the night of Rosh Hashanah—the universe is effectively on life support. It receives just the juice it needs so that it will not utterly recede back to nothingness.

When the shofar is blown the next day, a new vitality of a higher order than any that preceded it enters time and space. Now get this: Time is also a creation. So time is also renewed. The past now exists as a consequence of the present—something like if you had rebooted in the middle of watching a video and now continued from where you left off. As far as you know, the old past may have been a very different past. But you couldn’t know. All you know is this past that was loaded into the PRAM at reboot. And since this vital force is a new force, on a qualitatively different level than whatever came before, this new past is truly new.

Why the judgment? Well, you can’t just feed anything into the system. The energy source we are discussing is unlimited, but the target system—our reality—has discrete parameters. Rebooting without taking those parameters into account could be like plugging your laptop directly into the 22.5-gigawatt current blasting out of the power plant on the Yangtze. And infinitely worse.

So there’s gotta be an accounting made. Like your laptop, the parameters of the physical universe are set at the core level. In this case, that means human consciousness. As far as the Creator is concerned, His entire universe is nothing more than a human observation. All He needs to do, then, is to look into the state of that consciousness and accordingly adjust the flow of current.

That’s empowering. Because, you see, those parameters of human consciousness are dynamic and not determined by the system. They are determined by us. If we open them up, they contain more—and more is given. Tighten them, and the conduits of life tighten along with them.

Now comes the vital information: What is open and what is tight? This is kind of counterintuitive. In the words of the dean of the heavenly academy (cited in the Zohar, an encoded manual for system maintenance), “Big is small, and small is big.” Unencrypted: Make yourself big, and you can’t contain anything; make yourself small, and you can contain the unlimited.

That’s what we are doing on Rosh Hashanah: making ourselves very small. Expanding our little minds to a state of realization that, hey, there is something bigger than me—and not just elephants. And maybe even, hey, I didn’t make this place. I wouldn’t even know where to begin. It’s totally unprogrammable, undecodable and ungeekly. And here I am, just another artifact of the system, observing itself from inside of it. I could be re-scripted, or even deleted from the code altogether, at the whim of Whoever Is Running This. And now that Whoever is asking me to discuss with Him the plans for the coming reboot.

In a state of utter awe and wonderment, the Reboot finds its most fertile soil.

Rabbi Tzvi Freeman, a senior editor at, also heads our Ask The Rabbi team. He is the author of Bringing Heaven Down to Earth. To subscribe to regular updates of Rabbi Freeman's writing, visit Freeman Files subscription. FaceBook @RabbiTzviFreeman Periscope @Tzvi_Freeman .
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Serah Simah bas Faygah Los Angeles (Galus) September 20, 2017

What an odd question... What at first struck me as a peculiarity, now seems to be a rather elegant way of opening an enriching and enlivening discussion. Thank you for the courageous foray. Reply

Joe August 5, 2017

Very moving
Thank you :)
I'm not Jewish and came to understand
I'm in awe at the moment and feeling very small Reply

Sreeram Iyer UK September 13, 2015

Very beautiful words are necessary... When He speaks or flows through us.. Such words/thoughts/feelings/understandings manifest!! Thank you for receiving and transmitting the flow!! Reply

BB Smith Ossining NY September 24, 2014

The 24th Hexagram of the I Ching (Return) has many of the same attributes, if I read Rabbi Freeman correctly. In the middle of the darkness at the bottom of the old year, the Kingdom does not move about ("the kings of antiquity closed the passes at the time of the solstice. Merchants and strangers did not go about...") but that is so the solemn darkness time can be felt, experienced, and understood. It is experienced as the "primal zero state". Once that total silent depth is past, the world starts up again. "In winter, life energy symbolized by thunder, the Arousing, is still underground. Movement is just at its beginning" Reply

Nikki Portland September 22, 2014

The Relativity of Rosh Hashana Very beautiful written, Rabbi Freeman..I love your response; however, would that it were true. Perhaps your faith makes it true for you, but using astrophysics in such a haphazard way, and stating things which are not true by including the Theory of Relativity and others, isn't going to justify your belief that the Universe reboots itself annually, on Rosh Hashana of course. If you are using such theories as metaphor, then that is absolutely fine, but by including scientific facts, proven physics theories, and other physics ideas, you cloud your message of faith and belief. Faith and belief are inherently unprovable; that's what makes it FAITH....believing what is unknowable is the essence of faith.

So, maybe next time, you could not include scientific theories and facts to justify faith. They can't be mixed like a simple vinaigrette. Reply

Adie July 20, 2017
in response to Nikki : confirms faith... meaning science is of God...and it just moves in line with all that the Word says...of course it's not necessary for us so that we may believe but nonetheless is it false... Reply

Anonymous September 8, 2014

This sounds like the Matrix... LOL Reply

Susie Kahn Parker Northridge August 30, 2013

The Vastness of Creation: Two Years Later... I returned to this site because I was told someone had commented on what I wrote two years ago. So, I re-read my posting, and was left "awe-struck". Why? Because I thought to myself, "Who is the person who wrote that?" The reason I didn't recognize myself is so simple: I'm not the person I was two years ago! I'd like to believe I'm so much more, but with that comes more responsibility, I believe. Where did I "miss the mark" this past year? When did I disappoint others? AND...when did I disappoint myself? I'm convinced that the Eternal wants me to be my best; wants ALL of humankind to be ther best, but there is evidence everywhere that we humans are being cruel to each other; spoiling our environment and the only planet we have. How will be be judged? This year may well be my aged mother's final New Year, yet I will be holding the Torah on Kol Nidre and singing in the choir, and I do it not just for me, but for her as well. That's the most I can do, and she is aware of it all. Reply

ElleMere California August 30, 2013

what a lovely description Guess I'm a geek, after all, because this is the clearest description I've ever read. Thank you. I will meditate accordingly. Reply

Anonymous Savannah August 26, 2013

As I read this, I am recovering from surgery at my Jewish brother-in law and sister's house and I feel truly blessed. I hope that I am well enough next week to go to the waters during Rosh Hashanah and start my new year with a clean slate with the rest of the universe! Reply

Anonymous October 15, 2012

Food May not be a wild party, but the food is great ! Great food means a party, not a wild one, but still a celebration. Reply

Julie UK October 14, 2012

2nd time around Reading this again for the 2nd time, what jumps out for me is that we must make ourselves small to contain the infinite. This is so true! If the "self" is big there is no room for the plans of the Creator amongst our own self centred ones. Only when we let go of our desires to control things do we find the conduit to the purpose of our infinite Creator. How beautiful , how utterley stunningly beautiful! Reply

ruth housman marshfield hills, ma October 14, 2012

a story winds its way like smoke through the trees, through the orchards of the world. It wreathes its way, breathes its way, a barely conscious dream, filled with scent, bearing fragrance of apple, of citron. The World is holding something back, this secret a growing melody. More palpable every day. A ringing. Tree rings. Wedding rings. Union. Feeling overwhelms. Makes me want to throw these red leaves into the wind. Watch them dance. This is a holy season. My season. I feel this, to the core. Dance with me.

The birds know. The trees know. The clouds know. My world is bowed with wonder. You gave me this orchard. This secret garden. And sometimes the tears are too much, the joy, too much.

How much can anyone stand, to know? Without saying, and yet saying?

G_d says. I Will. I will keep my Promise. Reply

Sam Weis October 13, 2012

what is rosh hashona I was told and I believe that it is the dqy of "creation" that is, of Adam and Eve as the progenitors of humanity AND therefore Man's
first sin, and thus the first of the 10 days of Repentence which ends with the Day of Attonement, where we are foregiven. It may all be a fairy tale or each day that has passed represents hundreds of years, but I AM glad we evolved into human form; and can discuss this! Reply

ruth housman marshfield hills, ma September 27, 2011

Peace: out of Eden I believe that if you make of your life a masterpiece, that is, live as best you can according to the principles of tikkun, meaning love, support, caring, reverence for the environment, then you will have created something of vast importance because we are all of us, deeply ONE. And if we all do this, together, in accord, a chord, as ONE, we can make of life a master peace.

Shana Tova!

there are core principles to life and the apple itself has its core. I believe this entire story is about a journey of soul.

And I also believe, the Master Storyteller, knew the outcome would be dancing in the streets, because it takes a Master to write such a story, that winds its way through all Creativity to create something of great, great beauty. In the meantime we accept the responsibility of tikkun, to love with all our heart and soul.

Even if you do this not believing in G_d, you will have done what is required, because Divinity resides in this act and in us all. And we can enjoy the climb! Reply

Susie Kahn Parker Northridge, CA September 27, 2011

The Vastness of Creation Not being a computer programmer, I only understand the most basic parts of this article. But that in itself proves a point: That the Universe is beyond my ken, and constantly expanding. As someone who believes she is G-d's partner in Creation, and whose Judaism centers around that concept in addition to the Commandments and Tikkun Olam, the article illustrates that I obviously can't understand everything, but that I am surrounded by the beauty of Creation nevertheless. As a retired economist; the so-called "dismal science", Rosh Hashanah and the Commandment that I hear the sound of the Shofar makes me feel less "dismal" and awakens inside me an inner "connectiveness" to everything around me and beyond. Singing in my synagogue's choir makes my spirit soar, perhaps up into the Cosmos.
I pray that the world knows peace, and that I can stand tall and make my ancestors proud, as we "stand on the shoulders of those who went before us". L'Shana Tovah to all who read this! Reply

Bonnie September 27, 2011

Thank you for showing us beauty.

All the best of everything for you in the coming year. Reply

Yocheved Jerusalem, Israel September 25, 2011

No wild party on Rosh Hashanah Thank, Rabbi Freeman, for a very clear explanation. Hashanah tova and Chag Sameach to you and all at and all the Chabad centres throughout the world. Reply

Julie Durham, UK September 23, 2011

In this article the connection/ inseparability of G_d and the Jewish People shines out. I may not be part of you but I feel it in my heart also. Reply

Leah Solomon Woodmere, NY September 23, 2011

Just what we needed! What a fabulous and illustrative analogy. Thank you. Is Hashem amazing, or what?! Wishing you good health, happiness and sweetness in the new year. Reply

Ruth Housman marshfield hills, MA September 22, 2011

it's all in the timing: The Tree of Life It seems the timing of everything is just Perfect.
For me autumn means a retreat into the self, as in the word aut, and into the OM of it. Here in New England at this time of going inwards, as the light changes and the leaves about to turn colors, I am so totally aware of Moses and the Burning Bush, because I see it, everywhere. That burning, turning of color. The hues of the day. And even my bittersweet comes in colors, the little seeds in purples, turquoise, blues. I had to marvel at this and take pictures of these multi colored beads on the vine. Yes bitter, and then the honey and the apples. The orchards are filling. Sweet apple with its crunch. The wind carrying a clarity that is so different from summer. A whisper of something new, coming clear. And then the birds winging their way by the thousands overhead taking me with them, in such soaring numbers. I feel a quickening, and I know, it's about the New Year!

Yes. time to RE BOOT, to warmer shoes and comfy boots. Shana Tova! Reply

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