This requires clarification, however. Have not our Sages asserted,1 “A person’s sustenance is allotted on Rosh Hashanah”? For on Rosh Hashanah, as is known, all created beings are judged and their verdicts rendered. Accordingly, we recite in the liturgy2 of Rosh Hashanah, “You remember the deeds [performed] in the world and recall all that was created in days of yore”; also “Who is not recalled on this day?”; and “on it, creatures are brought to mind, to remember them for life or death”; likewise “Concerning countries, judgment is pronounced on this day”; similarly “On Rosh Hashanah they are inscribed....” If so, what purpose is served by man praying daily for his needs? Hasn’t his judgment been sealed on Rosh Hashanah?

The explanation, though, is as follows: Our Sages have declared, “Man is judged daily.”3 Every day a person is judged to ascertain whether or not it [i.e. G‑d’s benevolence] will be drawn down to him. Although the Divine effluence is already initiated on Rosh Hashanah, it remains in a general and concealed state.4

In order to draw it from its concealed state to a manifest one, prayer [on a daily basis] is required. Rosh Hashanah is called the “head” [rosh]. Just as a head houses within the brain the body’s general vitality, from where it proceeds to all the limbs, so, too, on Rosh Hashanah, a general life-force issues forth for the entire year. Afterwards, it is drawn down for each particular day, as is elucidated elsewhere.

Continuing the analogy, there are instances when the diffused vitality of the brain withdraws from a particular limb, G‑d forbid. Yet, as is known, the vitality has not completely disappeared. Rather it remains resident within the brain,5 i.e., contained within the general vitality [that still lodges within the brain]. Nevertheless, it does not [and cannot] extend into the limb due to an impairment that renders it unfit to receive the vitalizing radiance.

Similarly, it is understood that although a general vitality is issued for the year as a whole, it remains concealed. Before it can flow from a concealed state to a revealed one, judgment, of sorts, is required. A person’s verdict is scruti­nized before deciding whether the Divine flow will emanate below. Possibly some Heavenly accusation will restrain its egression into the physical dimension. Instead, it may remain on a spiritual plane above, thereby increasing the delight a person will enjoy in Gan Eden.6

This, then, is the purpose of the blessings in prayer in which we implore G‑d to bless the year and to heal the sick, etc., in terms of children, health, livelihood and the like: to ensure that the Divine flow is drawn from a concealed state to a revealed one without any impediments or hindrances whatsoever. This is the meaning of the verse,7 “Day to day utters [yabi’ah] speech . . .”; yabi’ah denotes speed, implying that the Divine flow should be diffused quickly and rapidly without any obstructions.

Now, as discussed in many places, an elicitation from the root and source, to bring forth the flow from its concealed state to a revealed one, is effected through blessings. Blessings draw down below that which is still in a root state, and prevent the flow from encountering any impediments or hindrances.

This is the meaning of “every one according to his blessing.”8 Yaacov blessed each of his sons [in accor­dance with how the effluence was found] at its root and source, so that it would be drawn down below [without any obstructions]. This is also why Yaacov told Yosef, “...but truly his younger brother shall be greater than he. . . .”9 A blessing cannot alter anything from the way it is found in its root; hence, Yaacov placed his right hand on Menashe’s head [though he was Yosef’s younger son]. For this was truly indicative of the standing of Yosef’s sons at their respective sources.

The above also explains the etymological relation of the word berachah [blessing] to the word beraichah [cistern]. A cistern is a single spot into which water is gathered. The waters, which originate from rain or from a spring, collect into one place that is sealed on all sides to prevent any seepage. This, then, is the idea of a cistern.

Now this pool of water has a source, namely, the rains or a spring. A blessing, too, produces nothing new; it only draws something from its root or source into the lower world. This is also what is meant by the statement that baruch is yesod [the foundation of] Abba [Chochmah], since the main aspect of a berachah is its capacity to draw from the level of Chochmah.

Now it is known that the root of everything is Chochmah, which is the beginning of the chain of descent. By way of illustration: Below, in the realm of man’s soul, a person’s conduct as prompted by his emotive attributes, e.g., his display of kindness and the like, are all directed specifically by Chochmah. Whatever intellect decrees, whether kindness or otherwise, so it shall be.

Similarly, it is understood, that Above the predominance of Chochmah is also applicable on the level of Chochmah of Atzilut, for it is written, “In wisdom [Chochmah] You have made them all. . . .”10 This world, too, is conducted through Chochmah.11 Therefore, Chochmah is termed reishit Chochmah [the inception of wisdom], since it is the source and root of everything.

This, then, is the idea of a blessing, namely, for man to draw below from the level of Chochmah. Otherwise the flow might encounter some obstruction, as explained above, for the actions of lower beings reach to Chochmah, the beginning of the chain of descent. A blessing thus ensures that the revelation will diffuse downward without any encumbrances.

By contrast, prayer can precipitate a new effluence, one that was not previously existent even in a root or source state whatsoever. Even if a person’s judgment has been sealed, in accord with Chochmah, resulting in a particular verdict, through the power of prayer the verdict can be altered. Chizkiyahu, for example, was granted fifteen additional years of life by dint of his prayer. For prayer effects yehi ratzon, meaning that a new will issues forth.12

Will transcends Chochmah, as is known, and is its origin, as noted elsewhere. Through prayer we can reach the Essence and Being of the Ein Sof, beyond Chochmah. From there a new will emanates, altering the judgment, turning it from severity to kindness. This is the meaning of what it says that from the prayers of the Jewish people, Metatron13 ties crowns for his Creator—a crown being an allusion to the level of will, as is known.

Thus, even when the judgment on Rosh Hashanah has been sealed for severity, Heaven forfend, the power of prayer can turn it around, by eliciting a new will, channelling the will specifically into the attribute of kindness.

This is the reason a man is obliged to pray every day, evening, morning and afternoon,14 imploring and beseeching G‑d to bestow upon him life and goodness, in terms of children, health and livelihood; to send us the Righteous Redeemer, speedily in our days, and to rebuild Jerusalem, and the like.

Though a person’s sustenance is allotted on Rosh Hashanah, nevertheless, the power of prayer can alter this allotment by eliciting a different will. Since no one knows what verdict he has received on Rosh Hashanah, a person must pray devoutly before G‑d for His bestowal of everything good, and for the redemption, the rebuilding of Jerusalem, and for “the sprouting of the horn” of King David, speedily in our days. Amen.

Further clarification, though, is needed. Have not our Sages of blessed memory observed:15 “Rabbah declared: Matters of health, children and livelihood are not contingent upon one’s merit, but upon one’s mazal”? This matter will be understood by considering the following:

Our Sages of blessed memory asserted,16 “The Jewish people possess no mazal.” But we find, do we not, a contradiction to this statement, inasmuch as they have also observed,17 “Though he does not see, his mazal sees.” If so, the Jewish people do in fact possess mazal?! By necessity, then, we must explain the declaration that the Jewish people have no mazal as referring to the twelve orbiting constellations.

Our Sages, of blessed memory, have stated, “I [G‑d] have created twelve constellations . . . and all of them were created only for you.”18 This means that a Jew transcends [the deter­minis­tic influence of] the constellations.19 When the Sages remarked “his mazal sees,” suggesting that the Jewish people are subject to the influences of mazal, they referred [not to the planetary influences, but] to those mazalot that transcend the spiritual plane which is the source of creation.

These mazalot are identified with notzer and venakeh.20 The root and source of the world is Chochmah, as it is written,21 “In wisdom You have made them all.”22 Chochmah and Binah are themselves incorporated within the higher level of mazal, for their roots are within the mazalot of notzer and venakeh, known respectively as higher-level mazal and lower-level mazal.23

Jewish people do indeed possess this type of mazal. This, then, is the deeper meaning of the declaration “The Jewish people possess no [ein] mazal.” Ayin [comprised of the same letters as the word ein]—the source of Chochmah—as it is written, “From where [i.e., from Ayin] is Chochmah found?”24—is the mazal of the Jewish people. Concerning this latter type of mazal it is stated “his mazal sees,” referring to the makif dimension of the soul that is not enclothed in the body.25

This is the explanation of the aforementioned statement, “Children, health and livelihood do not depend upon one’s merit.” For merit is relevant only within the natural order of progression—the extent to which man’s actions can reach. Just as a person who possesses some merit is exonerated in a Beit Din below, and he leaves vindicated in judgment, so, too, in the Beit Din Above: a person’s judgment is commensurate there with his merits. If he possesses some merit, he is granted goodness.

But children, health and livelihood do not depend upon one’s merit, i.e., upon the constraints imposed by the natural order of events. Rather they depend upon one’s mazal, inasmuch as their flow originates in the Ein Sof-light that transcends the natural order of events. This level is identified with the mazalot mentioned above.

Moreover, through the divine service of teshuvah,26 Torah27 and prayer, a person can elicit a supplemen­tary blessing from the Ein Sof-light that transcends the natural order of events.28 For this blessing of the Holy One, blessed be He, also possesses the virtues of prayer,29 as it says, “The supplement from the Holy One, blessed be He, exceeds the principal.”30

Through man’s prayer, then, this spiritual supplement from G‑d is drawn down. For as explained above, the idea of prayer is to awaken a will within G‑d—yehi ratzon31—viz., that a new will should be elicited. Furthermore, through a person intently calling His Name, His entire Essence turns about, as it were. For an effluence issues forth from the Essence of the Ein Sof-light so that there be a will.

Now, on Rosh Hashanah [G‑d’s bounty in terms of] children, health and livelihood are drawn down. For example, we find that both Sarah [our Matriarch] and Chanah conceived on Rosh Hashanah. In a similar vein, we recite [in the liturgy during the Ten Days of Repentance], “Remember us for life . . . inscribe us in the Book of Life.” Our Sages likewise declared,32 "Man’s sustenance is allotted to him on Rosh Hashanah.”

On Rosh Hashanah, we elicit the Ein Sof-light that transcends the chain of descents. Accordingly, our Sages observed,33 “Recite before Me the verses pertaining to sovereignty, so that you crown Me as your King; verses pertaining to remembrance, so that My recollection of you be favorable. Through what means [shall the above be accomplished]? Though the blasts of the Shofar.”

The blowing of the Shofar triggers a new construction of Malchut, as discussed elsewhere.34 This new construction entails the rebuilding of the entire world, from the very first of all created levels of existence to the very last of all created levels of existence. Hence, on Rosh Hashanah, [G‑d’s bounty, in terms of] children, health and livelihood are drawn down.

If, however, G‑d’s bounty was not drawn down, G‑d forbid, on Rosh Hashanah, it is still possible to elicit a supplementary blessing from the Essence and Being of the Ein Sof-light through one’s prayer—which is deemed a “great merit.” A person is bestowed [G‑d’s beneficence, through this supplementary blessing, in terms of] children, health and livelihood, all in a gracious measure.

For example, Rivkah was finally able to conceive by virtue of her prayer. Similarly, Chizkiyahu was granted an additional fifteen years [of life, by virtue of his intense prayer]. In addition, prayer draws down G‑d’s copious bounty for one’s livelihood.

One might also resolve the aforementioned paradox in the following manner: All Divine beneficence is contingent, in truth, upon our divine service, in the realm of prayer, good deeds, and so forth. Now with regards to the declaration of our Sages, “The sustenance of man is allotted on Rosh Hashanah,” and similarly, “Everything is determined on Rosh Hashanah in terms of children, health and livelihood,” as noted above, this can be explained as follows:

The root of judgment on Rosh Hashanah is identified with the level of Malchut, as it is before emerging as the source for the subsequent creation of the worlds.35 There [on this level, the dimensions of time, viz.,] past, present, and future, coalesce uniformly; all of man’s deeds are revealed and known prior to their actualization. The judgment and verdict on Rosh Hashanah occurs, then, on the level of Malchut of Atzilut, and determines the daily effluence in accordance with man’s [future] deeds.

This matter can be understood in light of what is explained elsewhere regarding Daat Elyon [Supreme Knowledge]. Although on the level of Daat Elyon, it is revealed and known by G‑d whether a person will be righteous or wicked, man still possesses free choice. G‑d’s knowledge does not obviate man’s freedom of choice, since this knowledge exists on a dimension of makif. G‑d is Omnipotent: He knows all that which will take place even before it happens; nevertheless, this knowledge does not compel the event to occur as was foreknown.

To illustrate: Just as when a person sees the image of a stone in his mind, the stone itself remains utterly unaffected, so is it to be understood with regards to His thoughts and knowledge. Granted, His thoughts give rise to the existence of all created beings, as explained elsewhere on the verse,36 “For My thoughts are not comparable to yours.”

Man’s reflections cannot cause anything to happen, but Above, the instant the thought arose to create the world, everything sprung into existence. Accordingly our Sages commented, “With a single thought all the worlds were created.”

Nevertheless, G‑d is Omnipotent. Just as He possesses the power and ability to create an infinite number of worlds through His thought, so does He have the power and ability to prevent His knowledge and thoughts from affecting a created being, from compelling man to act in accord with His knowledge. Man retains the freedom of choice to act as he wills.

To be sure, nothing can transpire, G‑d forbid, contrary to what is revealed to G‑d and known by Him; however, this knowledge does not force an action to take place. Rather, His knowledge is of how man will make his choice. In other words, He knows beforehand what will be after the choice has been made.37

From all the above, it is understood that the judgment G‑d pronounces on Rosh Hashanah is based on His Omniscience. How man will opt to exercise his freedom of choice in the sphere of good conduct is already revealed to G‑d and known by Him. [By good conduct we mean] in “service of the heart,” prayer, which is essential in the purification and refinement of one’s character traits.

For prayer, as is known, involves man’s faculty of daat, and our Rabbis of blessed memory commented,38 “If discernment [daat] is lacking, then how can there be separation?” Thus daat enables one to separate good and evil.

Further, one’s firm and soulful resolve to steer clear of evil and to act properly during the course of the day, is made chiefly at the time of prayer, as will be explained later, G‑d willing. The judgment decreed for the individual on Rosh Hashanah as per His bestowal of goodness is commen­su­rate with a person’s activities during the remainder of the year, in Torah study and prayer.

In light of this [explanation, the paradoxical statements of our Sages concerning the allotment of man’s bounty] are now soluble. Man’s sustenance is truly allotted by G‑d on Rosh Hashanah, based on His foreknowledge–commensurate with a person’s divine service [for that upcoming year].

Thus, a person must pray every day, requesting G‑d and beseeching Him to grant him goodness, materially and spiritually, in terms of children, health and livelihood. A person must implore Him to bring the redemption, the building of Jerusalem, and the “sprouting of the horn” of King David, His servant, speedily in our days. Amen. So has it arisen in His will. . .

–Permission was granted to publish up to this point of the manuscript–