1. The Previous Rebbe related that on the second day of Rosh Hashanah it was the custom of the Rebbe Rashab (Rabbi Shalom DovBer) to tell a story or review a Torah thought in the name of each of the Rebbeim of Chabad. When he did this he would also mention their names: The Baal Shem Tov; the Great Maggid; the Alter Rebbe, the Mitteler Rebbe, the Tzemach Tzedek and the Rebbe Maharash. In relating this custom, the previous Rebbe would also add his father’s name, the Rebbe Rashab. It follows now, that we should also include the name of the Previous Rebbe, the Nasi of our generation.

It was the Previous Rebbe who popularized the dictum of the Alter Rebbe that Jews should “live with the times.” The Mitteler Rebbe, of course, explained that the Alter Rebbe’s intention was that we should take instructions from the timely teachings of the weekly portion and, even more so, from the daily study section, of Torah.

What lesson can we learn from today’s portion of Haazinu and what connection does it have with Rosh Hashanah?

The Torah tells us:

For it is the Name of G‑d that I proclaim, ascribe greatness to our G‑d. (Devarim 32:3)

This emphasizes the important qualities of a Jew’s Divine service, which effects “greatness” above, as it were, and “ascribes greatness to our G‑d.” The Midrash (Shmos Rabbah 36:4) explains that G‑d “desires” and “longs” for the actions and Divine service of His creations:

You would have a desire to the work of Your hands. (Iyov 14:15)

When humans satisfy G‑d’s desire by fulfilling His will they accomplish great things, and give “greatness to our L‑rd.”

Here we will openly perceive the association with Rosh Hashanah. Why, even during Elul in the period of preparation for Rosh Hashanah emphasis was placed on the person’s Divine service. The word Elul is an acrostic for: “I am [devoted] to my Beloved, and my Beloved is (devoted) to me” (Shir HaShirim 6:3). This shows us that the initial step must be taken by the Jewish people and then in response there will be a revelation from above downwards.

Now, if this be the case during Elul, how much more so on Rosh Hashanah itself! Certainly on Rosh Hashanah the Divine service of the individual is of primary importance. Chassidus explains, that the renewal of all creation on Rosh Hashanah each year depends on, and is effected by, the Divine service of the Jewish people.

Now, let us turn to a more detailed analysis of this matter as discussed in the works of the Rebbeim.

In the Alter Rebbe’s maamar, which was transcribed by his son the Mitteler Rebbe: “Lehovin Inyan Tekiyas Shofar Alpi Kavonas HaBesht Zal (Siddur 244:3), he explains that with the sound of the shofar we awaken, and draw down to the world a new radiance, from the highest source and root, of the inner reaches of supernal delight, close to the essential essence. This then evolves into the new creation of every aspect of the devolving worlds, till the lowly corporeal world.

This life-force is regenerated and new every year. The Baal Shem Tov asked:

Why does Scripture say “Blow at the New Moon the shofar...,” it would be more appropriate to say “Blow the shofar at the New Moon.” But the meaning is that the blowing must be “new” and not a hackneyed statute.

Every year the Divine service of shofar blowing must be done in a new way and then the radiation of G‑dly life-force into all the worlds will likewise be new on Rosh Hashanah. The 12 Rosh Chodesh days of the year will then transfer this new life to all the days of the year.

We must remember that, we are dealing with intensely esoteric and intrinsic levels, whereas on the revealed state we do not see any change between the old life-force and the new, and the world does not stop to exist even for an instant. Yet, Chassidus explains that the subtle inner changes will have an effect on the external existence of the world.

The influence of the New Divine service of the Jewish people is therefore so refined that it also carries the quality of not reflecting any changes.

And so, in the state of “Elokeinu” — our G‑d — the source of unchanging nature, the Jewish people also introduce innovation: “ascribe greatness to our G‑d.”

In the same vein we find in the discourses of the Tzemach Tzedek and the Rebbe Maharash a discussion of the verse:

Today you have granted praise and importance to G‑d. (Devarim 26:17)

The unspecified term “today,” refers to Rosh Hashanah. On Rosh Hashanah the Jewish people grant praise and importance to G‑d. As the Talmud relates:

The Holy One, Blessed be He, sings the praises of Israel...it is written “today you have granted praises and importance to G‑d....” The Holy One, Blessed be He, said to Israel: “You have made Me a unique entity in the world...,” as it is written: “Hear O Israel, the L‑rd is our G‑d, the L‑rd is One.” (Berachos 6a)

This shows that the Jewish people effect a state of praise Above, which is tangible and appreciable. Being that this takes place on Rosh Hashanah, when we also read in our Chumash study section, the verse: “ascribe greatness to our G‑d,” we see the strong connection of these two facets.

Similarly the Talmud continues to relate:

..I shall make you a unique entity in the world. As it is written: “And who is like your people Yisrael a singular nation (the one) on the earth.” (Ibid.)

This quality is the same as in the last words of today’s reading section:

He made you and established you (gave you your purpose). (Devarim 32:16)

We may add a deeper aspect of Chassidic in sight based on the discourse “The Holiday of Rosh Hashanah,” of the Rebbe Rashab, of the year 5666, where he discusses the spiritual revelations engendered by the Jewish people on Rosh Hashanah and explains that they are similar to the revelation which will take place in the future. Then, the ultimate revelations will represent the true purpose, intrinsic to the essential Ein Sof — that the Holy One, Blessed be He, longed for a dwelling place in the lower worlds.

The reference is of course to this material world of Asiyah (action), for all the higher spiritual worlds become deficient through the process of devolution and creation — and only this lowest, corporeal world represents the ultimate, positive goal of creation.

Consequently, all the supernal worlds wait for, anticipate and need a Jew’s Divine Service in this physical world, to raise them and enhance their existence. The Holy One, Blessed be He, Him self, also desires to have a dwelling place in the nether world, and in a sense, “He, too, has a desire to the work of His hands,” the good deeds and Divine service of the Jewish people.

Now, the ultimate purpose of this lowly dwelling place will be realized only in the days of Mashiach, as Tanya explains that then the promise will be fulfilled:

The glory of G‑d will be revealed and all flesh will see.... (Yeshayahu 40:5)

The essence will be revealed without any concealing garments, as it says:

Yet your teacher shall not withdraw him self any more...your eyes shall see your teacher. (Yeshayahu 30:20)

For in the perfect and true “home” of the time of Mashiach — G‑dliness will be completely revealed. In a temporary fashion this occurred at Matan Torah, and only when Mashiach comes will it be permanent. The theme of Rosh Hashanah is similar to this, and that is why among the verses recited in the segment of Shofros on Rosh Hashanah Mussaf we also recite those verses which describe the awesome experience of Matan Torah (the giving of the Torah at Sinai).

Thus, Rosh Hashanah is connected to the revelation of Matan Torah in a fashion similar to the future revelation, which is also referred to in the prayers of Rosh Hashanah.

When Rosh Hashanah occurs on Shabbos these qualities are further enhanced and the theme of Rosh Hashanah expresses itself through the theme of Shabbos. The Rosh Hashanah maamarim of the year 5666 explain, that the three aspects of Rosh Hashanah — kingship, remembrance and the shofar, refer to three aspects of G‑dly light; the light of the Immanent life-force in the world, the transcendental light and the revelation of the true sequestered essence of the true Ein Sof. These are likewise bound to the three meals of Shabbos. The first meal is symbolic of the G‑dly life-force which fills the world. The second Shabbos meal is symbolic of the transcending light, and the third meal, at the time of greatest delight, is symbolic of the essential Ein Sof, even beyond the transcending light, similar to the revelation of the world to come — the essential delight beyond a perceptible delight.

Hence, the connection of Rosh Hashanah with the future redemption is more strongly accentuated when Rosh Hashanah occurs on Shabbos. The revelation of the essential imperceptible delight is all the more strong when it is together with Shabbos, similar to the world to come.

The power and potential to carry this through is given to every one by the previous Rebbe, the Nasi of our generation, who encouraged the dissemination of the teachings of Torah and Chassidus to the level of every Jew. And all this happens very speedily.

May all this occur with us:

Drawing down all aspects of Rosh Hashanah — a Kesivah VaChasimah Tovah, for a good and sweet year — to be inscribed in the book of the completely righteous — for “Your people are all righteous.” And they will therefore be “inscribed and sealed immediately for life” in all areas and in corporeal matters, children, health, and abundant sustenance. For these are the things we are judged for on Rosh Hashanah.

During Elul when the king was available, everyone could approach the king. Now, on Rosh Hashanah the revelation from the essence is even more intense, as such, certainly we can approach G‑d and present our petition to Him and He will certainly fulfill our requests, including the supplications of the Ten Days of Repentance, with a pleasant countenance.

May our prayer of Rosh Hashanah be answered:

Reveal Yourself in the majesty of Your glorious might over all the inhabitants of Your terrestrial world. (Machzor)

This is the ultimate realization of the purpose of creation to make the world a dwelling place for G‑d. This will actually take place at the close of this diaspora period when we will enjoy the light of G‑dliness in the darkness of the galus, just as the Jews had light in the days of darkness while still in Egypt. The light even illuminated the lowly houses of the Egyptians, so that the Jews could discover the precious vessels and garments which the Egyptians willingly gave to the Jews when they left Egypt.

And thereby:

The Israelites thus drained Egypt of its wealth. (Shmos 12:36)

All the moreso in the present galus, in which we have purified the “lost sparks.” For although during the Egyptian bondage 202 “sparks” of holiness were refined out of the diaspora, yet, 86 “sparks” remained to be purified in the last galus — and by now this has certainly been done. All that remains for us to do is to “polish the but tons,” as the Previous Rebbe expressed it; only a bit of polish and shine is lacking, so we must refurbish the luster. Under such conditions we should surely merit to have light while still in the diaspora.

And instantly, we should emerge from the galus to the true and complete redemption, and very soon enter the Holy Land with our youth and elders, sons and daughters — a complete nation — which is especially important on Rosh Hashanah when we crown the King.

We must also have the complete Torah as, Scripture says: “...until they were completed” (Devarim 31:30). This is also especially pertinent on Rosh Hashanah, since we include the description of the trumpeting shofar at the time of Matan Torah in the Scriptural verses recited in the “Shofros” section of the Mussaf prayer. Torah is complete only when Jews study Torah and develop the principles of Torah to their halachic conclusions, which are reached by the human study, understanding and eventual ruling.

As we find in the Midrash:

When the ministering angels assemble be fore G‑d and ask, “When is the New Year?”... G‑d says to them: “Why do you ask Me? You and I let us go to the Beis Din on earth (and inquire of them).” (Devarim Rabbah 2:14)

Likewise, we need the complete land:

A land...the eyes of G‑d your L‑rd are on it at all times, from the beginning of the year until the end of the year. (Devarim 11:12)

The term “beginning” and “end” of the year refer to Rosh Hashanah. The land must be in its expanded state, not just the original land of the seven nations, but also the land of the Ten Nations. The number ten also indicates perfection. This expansion of Eretz Yisrael will be followed by further expansion, when Eretz Yisrael will expand to encompass all the lands of the world; then G‑dliness will truly be revealed.

All completeness and perfection stems from the source of perfection, the Holy One, Blessed be He. From G‑d the Jewish people draw their perfection, and at the same time they “ascribe greatness to our G‑d.”

Our Torah portion Haazinu then leads to the portion of VeZos HaBerachah, whose theme is the radiation of blessings to all the Jewish people in a revealed and good way. So that we may point and say, “This is the blessing.”

The portion of Berachah is also connected to Rosh Hashanah as it states: “He (G‑d) was King in Yeshurun,” the coronation is effected when the Jewish people accept the yoke of His kingship upon themselves on Rosh Hashanah; the land of “Yeshurun” is the highest state for the Jewish people. Another interpretation of this verse says that it refers to Moshe, who was the first redeemer and will be the last redeemer, and will be the future king of the Jewish people, when the blessing with which he blessed the Jewish people will be complete and perfect. And he will continue to bestow blessings on the Jewish people.

So may it be: a blessing for Kesivah VaChasimah Tovah, a sweet and good year and the true redemption, through our righteous Mashiach, truly and speedily in our time.

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2. In the section of Rambam which we study today we find a connection to the theme of Rosh Hashanah.

At the close of the Laws of Tumas Tzora’as (Plague-spots), the Rambam speaks of the importance of steering clear of evil speech and says:

But the conversation of the worthy ones in Israel is none other than words of Torah and wisdom.... (Tumas Tzora’as 16:10)

The world of speech represents the sphere of Malchus — kingship, and on Rosh Hashanah we are involved in building the sphere of Malchus. Furthermore, since this subject is discussed in halachah 10 of chapter 16, it clearly indicates an other symbolic reference to kingship, which is the tenth attribute.

The closing words of the Rambam in chapter 16, which concludes this section of Mishneh Torah, also allude to Rosh Hashanah. The Rambam quotes the Prophet Malachi (3:16):

And they that feared the L‑rd spoke together every man to his neighbor, and the L‑rd hearkened and heard. And a book of remembrance was written before Him for them that feared the L‑rd and that thought upon His Name. (Ibid.)

A. When the Rambam speaks of “they that feared the L‑rd...,” he is referring to one of the themes of Rosh Hashanah — for the coronation of a king is connected with yirah — fear. As the Gemara ex plains, crowning a king involves accepting the awe of his rule (Sanhedrin 22a).

By speaking in the plural form (“they”) the Rambam again makes reference to Rosh Hashanah, for the crowning of the king may take place only when the masses are ready to accept the yoke of his rule. The great multitude gives glory to the king. And this is most appropriate when many Jews gather at a farbrengen and the fear of G‑d is enhanced, then the coronation actually, takes place.

B. “And a book of remembrance was written,” clearly a reference to Rosh Hashanah — the day of remembrance.

C. The verse concludes: “for them that feared the L‑rd, and that thought upon His Name.”

The word “thought upon” (choshvei) may also imply “chashivus” — importance. Those who fear G‑d increase the honor and importance given to G‑d, which brings us back to the verse in today’s Chumash section, “ascribe greatness to our G‑d.” Moshe says: “For it is the Name of G‑d that I proclaim,” and then every Jew has the potential to ascribe more importance and greatness to the Holy One, Blessed be He, through their Divine service.

Rosh Hashanah is the anniversary of the creation of Man, at which time all of creation was raised to the state of being “very good,” because through his Divine service man makes the world a dwelling place for G‑dliness. So, when the Rambam discusses the laws of Tumah — the opposite of holiness — he concludes those rules by telling us that the true goal is to convert the Tumah to Taharah and to make the person’s life worthwhile and holy by converting the idle or evil talk to talk of Torah and mitzvos. Then the purpose of creation is realized and actualized.

When Rosh Hashanah falls on Shabbos, as this year, this theme of rectifying the mundane and making it holy, similar to teshuvah, is more strongly emphasized.

The Midrash says, that when the Shabbos begins, and we recite:

A psalm, a song for the Shabbos day, (Tehillim 92:1)

we are referring to the state of repentance which Adam reached with the advent of the first Shabbos. The Alter Rebbe in Tanya also states that the word “Shabbos” has the same root letters as the word “return” so that they share a common theme. Consequently, this year this theme is enhanced. Even the Rambam hints at the theme of Shabbos when he refers to those who “thought” upon G‑d’s Name — since Shabbos is considered the realm of “thought” as compared to the rest of the week.

The Rambam placed great emphasis on the negative power of evil speech so that we should not make a mistake and say that it is insignificant. On the other hand, when he concludes by quoting the full verse of Malachi he wants to show us that positive, good speech in Torah and mitzvos will raise a person higher and higher, starting with the basic level of fear of G‑d, which is the first rung in Divine service — then moving up to a higher fear based on self-awareness and shame that comes from intellectual evaluation and analysis. These levels of fear lead to love of G‑d which follows in the form of a gift. And since all levels of fear are interconnected it also includes the ultimate expression of fear which will evolve at the time of Mashiach when:

To go into the clefts of the rocks...for fear of the L‑rd. (Yeshayahu 2:21)

At that time we will reach the perfection of a complete people, with the complete Torah, in the complete land. All united in the true dwelling place for the Shechinah in the material world, with joy and gladness.