1. Each year,1 the days of the week on which the festivals are celebrated provides a lesson for us in our service of G‑d. This year is unique in that Rosh HaShanah is celebrated on a Thursday and a Friday and thus, the holidays flow directly into Shabbos. Furthermore, in the Diaspora, this phenomenon repeats itself on Sukkos and on Shemini Atzeres and Simchas Torah.

Shabbos and the festivals introduce a dimension of holiness into a Jew’s life. Thus, we are commanded, “And you shall observe the Shabbos because it is holy” and “These are the festivals of G‑d which you shall proclaim to be holy assemblies.” On Shabbos and festivals, G‑d’s holiness permeates all of a Jew’s activities, causing him to feel different and uplifted.

This holiness extends to the physical dimensions of one’s life as well. Therefore, the Shabbos and festival meals are of a uniquely festive nature. This, in turn, effects the weekdays that follow. Although they are primarily involved with material activities and the efforts to earn a livelihood, the influence of Shabbos and the festivals has a residual effect and makes it easier to fulfill the commandments: “All your deeds shall be for the sake of Heaven,” and “Know Him in all your ways.”

This is particularly true of Rosh HaShanah which begins the “days of awe,” in which every Jewish trembles with a spiritual fear. This has a greater effect on Jews than other holidays. On Rosh HaShanah, the day of judgment on which one’s fortunes for the entire year are decided, each Jew’s feelings are aroused.

This arousal effects a Jew even when he eats. Thus, we find that, in addition to the command to celebrate Yom Tov in a pleasurable manner, there is a specific command for Rosh HaShanah: “Eat succulent foods and drink sweet beverages because the day is holy unto our L‑rd.”

Rosh HaShanah also has a greater influence over the other days of the year than other festivals. It is called, “the head of the year,” a name which implies that just as the head controls the functioning of the other limbs of the body, similarly, the day of Rosh HaShanah controls the nature of all the days of the year to come.

The present Shabbos, Shabbos Shuvah2 also is of general significance. It is the first Shabbos of the year and is influenced by the unique nature of the Ten Days of Teshuvah, a time which our Sages associated with the verse, “Seek the L‑rd when He may be found; call upon Him when He is near.” On this Shabbos, the spiritual arousal of teshuvah is easier to achieve and has a further reaching effect.

Furthermore, this Shabbos includes within it all the Shabbasos of the year. The AriZal explains that the each of the seven days of the week between Rosh HaShanah and Yom Kippur can atone for any deficiencies and elevate the service of all the corresponding days in the previous year (i.e., Shabbos Shuvah elevates all the Shabbasos of the previous year). Similarly, it can be understood that these days include all the corresponding days in the year to come.3 Thus, Shabbos Shuvah generates the potential for service during all the Shabbasos of the coming year.

Based on the above, we can appreciate the uniqueness of this year when Rosh HaShanah flows directly into Shabbos. When Rosh HaShanah is celebrated in the middle of the week (or when its celebration begins on Shabbos), although its service is elevated by the Shabbos which follows, there is an interruption between them as reflected in the recitation of Havdalah (which means “separation”). Afterwards, the elevation of the service of Rosh HaShanah by the Shabbos which follows represents a separate development.

In contrast, when Rosh HaShanah flows directly into Shabbos, Havdalah is not recited, only Kiddush. This implies that there is no separation between Rosh HaShanah and Shabbos, and the elevating influence of Shabbos has a direct effect. Indeed, these three days represent a chazakah (a halachic status established by three consecutive repetitions) which adds strength and power to this holiness, intensifying its influence on the coming year.

Furthermore, in the Diaspora, this chazakah is itself repeated three times, thus, establishing a chazakah for the chazakah and further strengthening the influence of holiness.4 This allows for the holiness of the soul to permeate through our physical substance and reveal itself in a complete manner.5

To understand the above concepts in greater depth, it is necessary to explain the difference between Shabbos and the festivals. Although both Shabbos and the festivals share a commonalty, there is also a difference between them. This difference is manifest in the following ways: a) All the thirty-nine forbidden labors are prohibited on Shabbos. In contrast, on the festivals, those labors which are associated with the preparation of food may be performed. b) Shabbos is characterized by the quality of oneg, pleasure. In contrast, the festivals are characterized by the quality of happiness, simchah.6 For this reason, Torah law places a greater emphasis on wearing fine clothing and eating festive meals on the festivals than on Shabbos. c) Shabbos is referred to as kodesh, “holy,” while the festivals are referred to as mikro’ai kodesh (“holy assemblies”), literally, “the calling forth of holiness.”

These differences are reflected in the conclusions of the intermediate blessings recited in the Shemoneh Esreh on these days. On Shabbos, we conclude this blessing, “Blessed are You, G‑d, who sanctifies the Shabbos.” On festivals, however, the blessing is concluded, “...who sanctifies Israel and the seasons.”

The Talmud notes the difference between the two and explains: Shabbos has been sanctified by G‑d (from the beginning of the seven days of creation onward). In contrast, the festivals are dependent on the Jews’ sanctification of them (through the fixing of the calendar).

To explain the inner dimension of this difference: Shabbos represents an ascent above time. For this reason, each week, on Sunday, a new cycle of time begins. In contrast, the festivals represent, the drawing down of holiness within the context of time.

Therefore, Shabbos is referred to as “holy,” and is thus in a category of its own. The festivals are, “the calling forth of holiness,” i.e., holiness is “called forth” and drawn down into the sphere of the mundane. (Accordingly, the festivals are usually celebrated in the midst of the week.) Thus, the festivals serve as an intermediary to draw down the holiness of Shabbos which is above time into the realm of ordinary weekdays.

This difference also explains why all work is forbidden on Shabbos — because its holiness transcends totally our mundane reality — and why, in contrast on the festivals, the labors associated with the preparation of food are permitted. This reflects the fact that, on the festivals, the holiness which is drawn down is related and associated with our material world.

This also explains the connection of Shabbos with the quality of oneg and the festivals, with simchah. Oneg can be felt by a person while he is alone; it does not have to be shared with others, as the holiness of Shabbos stands in a separate category above the material nature of the world. {Thus, we find the quality of kedushah — holiness — associated with the service of perishus — separation from material things and the common people.} Simchah, in contrast, is experienced, in its full extent, only when one is together with others,7 reflecting how the holiness of the festivals revolves around establishing a connection with our material reality.

Thus, the two — Shabbos and the festivals — complement each other. Shabbos reflects a higher level of holiness and, indeed, elevates all existence to a higher plane. The festivals and their emphasis on simchah, however, surpass the Shabbos in the ability to draw down and transmit holiness to the world as it exists within its own context.8

This clarifies the uniqueness of the direct progression from the festivals to Shabbos we experience this year: Generally, there is an interruption between the festivals and Shabbos which emphasizes the difference between the service of the festivals (drawing holiness into this world) and Shabbos (elevating the world to a higher level of holiness). Furthermore, these services are separate and distinct from each other.

This year, in contrast, the fact the festivals are followed directly by Shabbos points to a combination of the two services which makes it possible to draw down the elevated state of Shabbos into the world as it exists without nullifying the world’s material existence.

The connection between the two is further emphasized by the fact that Havdalah is not recited between the festivals and Shabbos, indicating that between happiness and holiness, there is no separation.9 Indeed, happiness is not connected with havdalah, separation, at all, for happiness breaks through and negates separation as evidenced by the connection it establishes between people.

This concept shares a special connection with Rosh HaShanah and Shabbos Shuvah. Rosh HaShanah commemo­rates the creation of man. One of the reasons Rosh Hashanah’s celebration was ordained on this day, the anniversary of the sixth day of creation, and not on the anniversary of creation at large — although this is also associated with Rosh HaShanah as we say in our prayers, “This is the day of the beginning of Your work...” — is because man carries out the purpose of creation and brings the world at large to its ultimate fulfillment, revealing holiness and G‑dliness within the world.10 This was realized on the very first Rosh HaShanah, when the creation at large followed the instructions given by Adam the first man, “Come let us prostate ourselves, bow down, and bend the knee before G‑d, our Maker.”11

This is the service of Rosh HaShanah each year,12 to accept G‑d as King, and to draw down His Kingship over the world at large. Thus, the service of Rosh HaShanah parallels that of the other festivals. The above also allows us to appreciate the significance of the fact that, this year, Shabbos follows directly after Rosh HaShanah. The first Rosh HaShanah, as well, was followed directly by Shabbos (so that Shabbos could elevate the creation at large). Similarly, this year, the two days of Rosh HaShanah are considered as one single “long day” and, directly afterwards, we enter Shabbos.

There is a further point of connection: The sounding of the shofar is the mitzvah of the day” for Rosh HaShanah through which the service of crowning G‑d as King is carried out. When Rosh HaShanah falls on Shabbos, the shofar is not sounded outside the Beis HaMikdash. Chassidic thought explains that the shofar is not sounded because the spiritual effects it produces are brought about by the holiness of the Shabbos.

Notwithstanding this explanation, since, “deed is most essential,” there is an advantage to actually sounding the shofar on both days.13 This does not negate, however, the spiritual advantage of having the service of the sounding of the shofar elevated by the influence of the Shabbos.

This year possesses, to the greatest extent possible, both dimensions of service. The shofar is sounded for two successive days and, without an interruption being made, this service is elevated by the spiritual influence of Shabbos.

To express this concept using Chassidic terminology: The simple sound of the shofar’s blasts14 arouses the pleasure and desire to rule as King within G‑d’s essence which, in turn, draws down Divine influence and life-energy to the world at large.

Thus this year, through the shofar blasts of Rosh HaShanah G‑d’s essence is aroused and Shabbos brings about the revelation of this dimension throughout the world at large, reflecting the “era which is all Shabbos and rest forever,” the era of the Redemption.15 This is reflected in the fact that the activities of Shabbos are “twofold in nature.”16 Similarly, the five letters of the alef-beis which have two forms (e.g., a mem which has one form when written in the midst of a word and another when written at the end of a word) are associated with the redemption.

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2. The above also relates to this week’s Torah portion which begins with the verse, “Give ear O heavens, listen earth.” The expressions, “Give ear,” and “listen” share the same basic meaning. However, the expression “Give ear” refers to a situation in which the speaker is close to the listener and therefore, can speak in his ear. In contrast, “listen” can also refer to hearing from afar. Accordingly, our Sages explain that the choice of phraseology in the above verse indicates how Moshe, our teacher was “close to the heavens and far removed from the earth.”

The question arises: The Torah is intended to be a lesson for each individual. How can every Jew be asked to reach such spiritual peaks? Indeed, we find that Yeshayahu the prophet reversed Moshe’s phraseology stating, “Hear heavens and give ear, earth” because he could not approach Moshe’s rung. Indeed, since this verse is given to the Jews as they exist within the context of this physical world, on the surface, the order should be reversed and the earth should be mentioned before the heavens.

Among the explanations of this concept is that when a Jew studies G‑d’s Torah, he is lifted above worldliness. Although he continues to exist within the material world, he is “close to the heavens.” This explanation, however, is also somewhat problematic. “The Torah is not in the heavens,” and it is only in this material world that it is possible to clarify Torah law. Indeed, evenly the heavenly courts come to hear the decisions of Torah law rendered by Jews in this world.17 Therefore, seemingly, the proper approach to the study of Torah is to be “close to the earth,” studying Torah in a manner in which one understands and applies it within the context of this material world, the very opposite of being, “close to the heavens.”

The resolution to this difficulty lies in the essential G‑dly potential within a Jew which allows him to be “close to the heavens” while he is immersed in the application of Torah to worldly concerns. His state of spiritual elevation elevates, without negating, his existence within the material world.18

This means when one studies Torah, one must try to comprehend it according to the approach of “the earth” (and not try to understand it according to the spiritual perspective of “the heavens”). Nevertheless, before studying Torah, one is required to bless the Torah. This blessing draws down19 a higher dimension of G‑dliness within our Torah study,20 allowing us to feel how Torah has its source in the heavens and through Torah study, the Jews can establish complete unity with the Torah, G‑d’s wisdom, and thus, with G‑d, Himself.

In this context, we can understand the Midrash’s statement that in Rabbi Meir’s Torah scroll instead of “G‑d made them garments of leather” (rug with an ayin), it was written, “G‑d made them garments of light” (rut with an alef). This could be interpreted to mean that the spiritual light from above was reflected in Rabbi Meir’s21 scroll and the inner meaning of the verse was revealed.22

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3. Since this farbrengen comes in continuation of Rosh HaShanah, it is proper to mention the names of all the Rebbeim to recall their merit as it was customary in the Beis HaMikdash to mention the city of Chebron (the resting place of the Patriarchs) before the morning sacrifice. Just as the morning sacrifice set the tone for the subsequent sacrifices and service of the day, similarly, the mention of the Rebbeim on a farbrengen connected with Rosh HaShanah sets the tone for the service of the entire year to come.

The personal names of the Rebbeim are all significant: The Baal Shem Tov was called Yisrael to arouse the essential level of Yisrael that exists within every Jew. The Maggid was called DovBer because he drew down G‑dliness until the level of “a bear,” an animal “overladen with meat.” The Alter Rebbe’s name, Shneur Zalman, refers to the revelation of the two lights (Shnei Or) of (the revealed and hidden dimensions of) Torah within the sphere of time (Zalman shares the same letters as the word L’zman meaning “to time”). DovBer, the Mitteler Rebbe’s name, has a similar intent as that of the Maggid’s name. However, his position among the Chabad Rebbeim, indicates that his service is connected with “the broadening of the river,” explaining the seminal points of Chassidus in depth. The Tzemach Tzedek’s names, Menachem Mendel, are both names associated with Mashiach. The Rebbe Maharash’s name Shmuel is connected with the prophet Shmuel (and thus with the Haftorah of Rosh HaShanah which describes his conception). The Rebbe Rashab’s name, Shalom DovBer, reflects drawing down Shalom (peace which is connected with Torah and, in particular, Pnimiyus HaTorah) with the level of DovBer described above. Similarly, the Previous Rebbe’s name, Yosef Yitzchok, is connected with the services of “G‑d will add on to me another son,” and “All those who hear will rejoice with me.”

Nevertheless, it is proper to mention the Rebbeim by their titles, the Baal Shem Tov, the Maggid of Mezritch, the Alter Rebbe, the Mitteler Rebbe, the Tzemach Tzedek, the Rebbe Maharash who is associated with the approach of Lechat’chilah Aribber, the Rebbe Neshamaso Eden, and the Nasi of our generation, and not by their personal names. This points to their function as Nesi’im.

The Nasi is the yechidah of his entire generation and thus, includes all the souls of his generation. This is evident from the acronym for the word Nasi, “a spark of Yaakov, our Patriarch.” Just as Yaakov’s soul included in it the souls of all the Jewish people, so, too, this quality is reflected in each Nasi. Each Nasi grants the potential for the people of his generation to reveal the dimension of yechidah within their individual existence and within the world at large. This will lead to the revelation of Mashiach, the yechidah of the entire Jewish people with the establishment of a dwelling for G‑d in this world.

This revelation will be enhanced by singing a niggun associated with each of the Rebbeim. A niggun is “the pen of the soul,” and reveals one’s inner dimensions.

May each Jew make maximum use of the combined influences of Rosh HaShanah and Shabbos to influence his behavior in the year to come. This will add to the kesivah vachasimah tovah for a good and sweet year in both material and spiritual things which G‑d has granted us. (Indeed, the judgment of Rosh HaShanah concerns primarily a Jew’s material needs.)

[The Rebbe Shlita proceeded to mention blessings associated with each letter of the alef-beis, explaining that these are general blessing including all sorts of good.} May it be a year when “I will show you wonders.” This implies an added positive quality beyond that of the previous year, “a year of miracles.” There are times when, although miracles are wrought, “the person to whom the miracle occurred does not appreciate it.” This year, G‑d’s miracles will be openly revealed. This will enable us to appreciate the miracles more and use them more effectively for positive purposes.

May these wonders also include wonders, “as in the days of your exodus from Egypt,” with the coming of the Messianic redemption.23