Rosh Hashanah is the anniversary of the creation of Adam, the first man. The Torah does not record what he did on his first day except for the account of how Hashem took him and placed him in Gan Eden to work it and guard it, with explicit instructions not to eat from the Tree of Knowledge of good and evil.

The Torah relates that Adam and his wife Chavah were both naked, but they were not ashamed. When they violated Hashem’s command and ate from the Tree of Knowledge, the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were naked, so they sewed together fig leaves and they made themselves aprons. Suddenly they heard the voice of Hashem and they hid. Hashem called out to the man and said to him, “Ayekah?” — “Where are you?” He replied, “I heard Your voice in the garden and I was afraid because I was naked, so I hid” (Bereishit 3:1-8).

This seemingly simple story is very enigmatic. While at times a person may allow himself to lie to his friend, no one would have the audacity to lie to Hashem face to face! As you will recall, a moment ago we mentioned that when they realized they were naked, they made themselves aprons. Now Hashem is talking to Adam, who is dressed in his apron, and he tells Hashem, “I hid because I was naked”?!

Man has been sent to this mundane and earthly world “to work it and guard it.” It is incumbent upon him to study Torah and performmitzvot and conduct his life in accordance to Torah instructions. For this he will ultimately merit a respected place in Gan Eden.

While some are faithful to their mission, unfortunately, there are those who get side-tracked. The glitter of success blinds them into thinking that “I am a self-made man, a secure individual and have everything that is needed to assure myself the very best.” Little by little man forgets about his dependence on Hashem and begins to make for himself “garments” — security blankets which he is sure will protect him.

This is all good till one day he is awakened from his slumber by a “kol Hashem” — “the voice of Hashem.” Suddenly, G‑d forbid, he is taken to the hospital with a cardiac arrest or another serious ailment. Sometimes a catastrophe in his business shatters the entire security on which he confidently relied. At times it may be a tragedy in his family which casts him into gloom and despair. All these are the different forms of “kol Hashem” — the voice of Hashem calling man “Ayekah?” — “Where are you?” — “Wake up.” At that time man realizes his nakedness without Hashem. Everything he thought he had, all that he built and amassed, is really nil.

This is what also occurred with Adam. Living in Gan Eden and having everything available at his disposal, he “opened his eyes” and perceived himself as secure and successful. Now he could do whatever he wanted, he thought, and not fear. When suddenly he heard a “call from Hashem,” he came to the realization how insignificant and “naked” he really was.

Hopefully, no one should ever, G‑d forbid, get “a call from Heaven” to awaken him. May the call of the shofar of Rosh Hashanah be sufficient to bring us out of our slumber. Let us resolve on this day, happily, healthily, and in good spirit, to direct our lives according to the will of Hashem.

(הרב יוסף דוב הלוי ז"ל סאלאווייטשיק, מבוסטון)