The High Holidays are behind us. The joy of Sukkot and Simchat Torah has just passed, but there is still one more landmark before the exhilarating month of Tishrei fades. It is the first Shabbat immediately following the holidays, known as Shabbat Bereishit (or Shabbos Bereishis in European Hebrew).

Why is it thus named? Every week of the year we read another portion of the Torah. The cycle ends and begins anew on the joyous holiday of Simchat Torah, when we read the final portion of V'Zot HaBerachah and the opening lines of the first portion, Bereishit. On the following Shabbat, the full portion of Bereishit is read from the Torah.

It is said in the name of the third Chabad Rebbe (known as the Tzemach Tzedek) that the way one conducts oneself on Shabbat Bereishit sets the tone for the entire year.

Appropriately, this Shabbat is often earmarked for inspiring farbrengens and resolutions to increase in Torah study. These farbrengens have an additional function, since this Shabbat is also Shabbat Mevarchim, when we bless the upcoming month of Cheshvan.

During the Rebbe’s farbrengen on this special Shabbat, “honors” were traditionally auctioned off. Festooned in a fur shtreimel, the synagogue gabbai would lead the proceedings, and people would vie for the merit to pay for the synagogue’s lighting, kiddush wine and other expenses.

Like a caboose following a long railroad train, this Shabbat helps us gather up the spiritual energy of the past month, ensuring that we remain on track for the long haul ahead.