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No Work This Year!

No Work This Year!

When Rosh Hashanah falls on Shabbos

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The Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, of righteous memory
The Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, of righteous memory

Editors Note: The Rebbe, of righteous memory, would issue pastoral letters each year to “The Sons and Daughters of Our People Israel, Everywhere,” in preparation for the New Year. Below we bring you one such message, in free translation, for a year whose beginning was Shabbat, like this year, 5770 (2009).

By the Grace of G‑d
Chai (18th) Elul, 5732
Brooklyn, New York

To the Sons and Daughters of
Our People Israel, Everywhere,
G‑d bless you all!

Greeting and Blessing:

The present period of preparation for Rosh Hashanah — the day on which G‑d concluded the creation of the world with the creation of man, the "chosen one of the creatures" — is also the time to reflect on the Creation and its design and order, with a view to deducing therefrom — as from everything — guidelines for the daily life and conduct, and the "essential thing is the deed."

In accordance with the will of the Creator to create a world with a multitude of diverse things, as it is written, O, how many are Thy works, G‑d! — the world consists of innumerable, distinct and different things. At the same time, however, all things have certain underlying features which unite them, and some which unify them into one entity:

This is to be expected, considering that all things have been created by the one and the same Creator, the One G‑d. Consequently, an inner and true unity pervades all the things He created, from an inanimate object to a human being. Of course, within each of the four created "kingdoms" — mineral, vegetable, animal and man — their unity is more evident.

The said concept was brought out by our Sages of blessed memory especially in connection with the human species. Observed our Sages: The Creator formed all mankind in the same "stamp" in the image of the first man, Adam; yet every human being is different, no two humans anywhere in the world are alike in all respects. Thus, their facial features are dissimilar, and in three respects human beings differ one from the other: in voice, appearance and in intellect.


The principle of diversity coupled with unity embracing all things in the world applies also to time. Time is divided into day and night, weekdays, Shabbos, Yom-Tov, etc., each season having its own inherent quality and significance in general, and for man in particular. Yet there are elements that unite all time-sectors into one continuity.

This is true also of Rosh Hashanah: All Rosh Hashanahs have many aspects in common, such as pertain to general teachings and inspiration for the new year, for, as has often been mentioned, Rosh Hashanah is the "head" (Rosh) of the year. At the same time, however, each Rosh Hashanah is new and unique — each inaugurates specific and new forces and qualities.

Particularly unique is a Rosh Hashanah, compared with the majority of Rosh Hashanahs, when it coincides with Shabbos, that is, when the first day of Rosh Hashanah occurs on Shabbos, as this year. In this event, the holiness of Rosh Hashanah becomes one with the holiness of Shabbos, giving this Rosh Hashanah a new dimension and content, which — in view of Rosh Hashanah being the "head" of the year, as mentioned above — must influence the daily life throughout the year.


The general difference between the weekdays and Shabbos, particularly insofar as man is concerned, is that the weekdays are work days (Six days shalt thou labor and do all thy work), whereas Shabbos is a day of abstention from work (thou shalt do no work), a day of rest.

At first glance this leads to an anomaly: From birth a man's destiny is linked to work, as the Torah declares, A man to toil is born (with intervals of rest, sleep, etc., in order to recuperate for further toil). Yet, when Rosh Hashanah occurs on Shabbos, its emphasis — as "head" of the year, setting the tone and pace for each and all the days of the year — would be on the idea of abstention from work. How is this to be reconciled with the principle of "man to toil is born"?

One of the explanations, which removes the contradiction, is as follows: А human being is a composite of a variety of things and qualities — broadly speaking, he consists of body and soul. Consequently, all his affairs and activities likewise contain the elements of "body" and "soul," or, in other words, the material and spiritual. It follows that also in the human destiny of man is born to toil both elements are present, namely, physical toil and spiritual toil, or, as our Sages of blessed memory express it: the toil of work and the toil of Torah. More specifically: The material-spiritual composition is to be found in both kinds of toil: In the "toil of work" (as also in the "toil of Torah") there is the physical as well as the spiritual toil, for in each of them there is a spiritual side and a material side.

On Shabbos a Jew fulfills his destiny of a "man to toil is born" by dedicating the day to the "toil of Torah". In this sense, Rosh Hashanah that occurs on Shabbos conveys also the message that in all the coming days of this year, a special emphasis should be put on the "toil of Torah (and Mitzvos)" and that also in the realm of "toil of work" (mundane affairs) one should bring out and accentuate the spiritual side of it.

By way of a simple illustration: А person holding a job, or engaged in business, and the like, is generally motivated by the income and desire to earn a living. Yet the underlying spiritual aspect, the "soul" of these mundane affairs, must be the recognition that "all your actions should be for the sake of Heaven". Instead of being motivated solely or mainly by material gains, a Jew should be motivated by higher incentives: to be able to give Tzedoko [charity] generously, to be able to study the Torah without worry about Parnosso [livelihood], to be able to pay tuition for the children's Torah education, and so forth. And it is to attain these higher goals in life that he engages in the "toil of work."

To repeat and in other words: It is expected of every Jew, man or woman, young or old, that he (or she) bring in "Shabbosdikeit" (the spirit of Shаbbos) into all his toil, including also the mundane activities; to bring in Spirituality and holiness also in the ordinary and mundane activities of the daily life, until they are thoroughly permeated with the spirit of Shabbos.

And when а person is permeated with spiritual motivations, his toil will obviously not interfere with his learning Torah, the fulfillment of а Mitzvah, giving Tzedoko generously and wholeheartedly, and so forth.


Should the question be asked: How can everyone attain such a high level, and maintain it consistently each and every day of the year? The answer is simple, and everyone can understand it: Inasmuch as G‑d, the Creator of man, set this guideline for each and every Jew, it is certain that everyone, regardless of upbringing and station, has been provided with the capacity to carry it out in actual life, and indeed, to do so with joy and gladness of heart.

And so we say with David: "(Because) On Thee, O G‑d, I rely — (it is certain that) I will not ever be put to shame."

All the more so, since this trust and this commitment derive from Rosh Hashanah, when Jews celebrate the "Coronation" of G‑d, and willingly accept His Kingship. Moreover, "The King's servant is (also) royalty", and on Rosh Hashanah every Jew becomes the King's servant anew.

With the blessing of Kesivo vaChasimo tovo for a good and sweet year--

/signed: Menachem Schneerson/

A free translation from the writings of the Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson, of righteous memory.
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Anonymous September 21, 2011

Valerie Carlton AMEN! Reply

J Moken Brick, NJ September 30, 2010

Coronation of G-d This is fantastic! I was wondering what was occurring spiritually. I woke up and wanted to prepare for dancing - now I know why.
Can you tell me what happens after this year or the meaning? Reply

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