1. Of Rosh Hashanah it is written “This day is the beginning of Your works, a remembrance of the first day,” meaning that everything that took place on the original Rosh Hashanah is repeated. Although the original Rosh Hashanah was only one day, and now it is two days, nevertheless, these two days are considered as “one long day.” This is witnessed by the Halachah that we need a new fruit or new garment to recite the blessing “Shehecheyanu” on the second day, for it is not an independent day, but a continuation of the first day. And, writes the Alter Rebbe, the two days of Rosh Hashanah exist not only in the time of exile, but also when the new moon was sanctified by visual testimony in Eretz Yisroel.

The above is true of Rosh Hashanah every year. In addition, extra concepts, introduced by the days on which Rosh Hashanah fall out this year — Thursday and Friday — apply.

This year, because it is Thursday and Friday, Shabbos immediately follows Rosh Hashanah without any break. The unique distinction of this is demonstrated by the Midrash (Bereishis Rabbah 11:2) which states: “The light (of creation) served for 36 hours: 12 hours on erev-Shabbos, 12 hours on the night of Shabbos (Friday night), and 12 hours on Shabbos.” Adam was created on erev-Shabbos, and the light served for 36 hours. Thus on Friday night there was no darkness, only light. This idea is emphasized when Rosh Hashanah (Adam’s birthday) is immediately followed by Shabbos without any intervening break — just as on the original Rosh Hashanah, when, immediately after Adam was created on erev-Shabbos, Shabbos followed (and such that they were combined together with 36 hours of light).

Moreover, this light was “the light which G‑d created on the first day,” of which our Sages say that “Adam used it to look from one end of the world to another.” After the six days of creation, G‑d hid this light.

There is also a special distinction in Rosh Hashanah being on Thursday and Friday. The “Song of the Day” for Thursday states: “Blow the Shofar on the New Moon, on the designated day of our Holy Day” — the idea of the shofar-blowing of Rosh Hashanah. The “Song of the Day” for Friday states: “The L‑rd is King; He has garbed Himself with grandeur.” This is effected on Rosh Hashanah, Adam’s birthday, when he crowned G‑d King of the whole world.

There is also a connection between Rosh Hashanah and the weekly parshah, Ha’azinu, which states (32:7): “Remember the days of old, consider the years of each generation; ask your father and he will declare to you; your elders, and they will tell you.” This remembrance of the past emphasizes the connection to Rosh Hashanah, the “day of remembrance.”

Furthermore, Scripture states concerning the Song of Ha’azinu that (31:21): “This Song shall testify before them as a witness; for it shall not be forgotten out of the mouths of their seed.” Even if it is possible to forget the rest of the Torah’s words, Torah promises that this Song of Ha’azinu will “not be forgotten” — again, emphasis on remembrance, the idea of Rosh Hashanah.

Furthermore, in parshas Ha’azinu it states (32:41) “My hand takes hold of judgment” — and Rosh Hashanah is the Day of Judgment. In addition, the Song of Ha’azinu is, in general, a testimony — ”This Song shall testify before them as a witness” (31:21), and “Set your heart to all the words wherewith I testify against you this day” (32:46). Testimony is associated with judgment and the courts — again, the connection to Rosh Hashanah, the Day of Judgment.

2. A further distinction of this year is that it is a leap year. Although G‑d created the world as a perfect entity, fully finished, He nevertheless wanted man to be a partner with Him in creation, as stated “G‑d created to do,” meaning “to rectify and complete.” G‑d deliberately left the world in a state that it would need the finishing touches of man, thereby making man a partner in the creation.

The Midrash brings examples of some of the things in creation that need fixing. An additional matter is brought in the Talmud (Chulin 60b) which states: “G‑d says, Bring atonement for Me that I diminished the moon.” This comes to fulfillment in a leap year. The Rambam writes (beginning of Hilchos Kiddush HaChodesh): “The solar year is approximately 11 days longer than the lunar year. Therefore, when this excess accumulates to thirty days, more or less, we add one month, and make that year have 13 months, and it is called a leap year.”

The function of a leap year, then, is to rectify the deficiency of the lunar year in comparison to the solar year, making it a “whole year.” Indeed, the lunar year then becomes longer than the solar year. This is similar to the idea that because the sins of penitents are transformed into merits, they are on a loftier level than the righteous.

This is the connection between this leap year and Rosh Hashanah: both emphasize the idea of rectifying and completing.

A leap year can be of varying lengths: (i) 383 days, when Cheshvan and Kislev are short months; (ii) 384 days, when one of the months of Cheshvan and Kislev is short and the other long; (iii) 385 days, when both Cheshvan and Kislev are full months. This year, which has 385 days, the greatest amount possible, is called a “complete year.” It thus rectifies the deficiency of the lunar year to its fullest extent. And, greatness in quantity indicates greatness in quality.

Our Sages explain that Jews use a lunar calendar for they are similar to the moon: Just as the moon is the “small luminary,” so “David is the small one” and “Ya’akov is the small one.” May it therefore be G‑d’s will that we speedily merit the fulfillment of the promise that “they (Jews) are destined to be renewed like it (the moon)” — in the true and complete redemption through our righteous Moshiach.

The idea of the redemption is emphasized at this time, close to Motzoei Shabbos, when we have the Melave Malkah meal, the meal of David, King Moshiach. It is particularly stressed on the Motzoei Shabbos that follows Rosh Hashanah, for before shofar-blowing we said “He chooses our heritage for us, the glory of Ya’akov whom He loves eternally” — not Ya’akov as he is “the small one,” similar to the “small luminary,” but “the glory of Ya’akov,” similar to the idea of “they are destined to be renewed like it.”


3. Because this year is of 385 days length, it means it contains an exact number of weeks (55 full weeks). This affects the next year also: Because there are no extra days, only full weeks, it means that Rosh Hashanah of the next year will be on the same days as this year — Thursday and Friday. Thus, all the things explained above concerning this year apply to the coming year.

Some people will undoubtedly ask: The above holds true only if the next year will be set according to the calculated calendar. But since Moshaich is coming now, the months of the next year will be set according to visual testimony — and then the calendar may not necessarily be the same as this year.

However, it is a rule in Torah that “the Torah addresses the majority.” Therefore, even when the months will be set according to visual testimony, the months will still, in the majority of times, be the same as when by the calendar set. Thus, although next year will be set by visual testimony, it will be the same as this year — according to the rule that “the Torah addresses the majority.”

May it be G‑d’s will that from talking of these things we speedily see their actual fulfillment — that we merit the time when the months will be sanctified by visual testimony, in the true and complete redemption, through our righteous Moshiach. And because Eliyahu Hanovi accompanies Moshiach, he will resolve all questions that people have.


4. Because Rosh Hashanah is immediately followed by Shabbos, Tzom Gedalyah (the fast of Gedalyah), which is normally on the third of Tishrei, is postponed. This follows the promise brought by the Rambam (end of Hilchos Ta’aniyos) that “all these fasts are destined to be abolished in the days of Moshiach, and moreover, are destined to be festivals and days of joy and gladness, as stated: ‘So says the L‑rd of Hosts: The fast of the fourth and the fast of the fifth and the fast of the seventh (Tzom Gedalyah) and the fast of the tenth shall be to the House of Yehudah for joy and gladness and festivals.’“ In our case, when the third of Tishrei is Shabbos, the fast is abolished, and indeed, it is a mitzvah to have delight on this day in eating and drinking.

Some people may ask: How can one say the fast is abolished, when we will have to fast instead on the next day (Sunday)? To such people the retort is given: Fool! Why do you think of the next day? In the Ma’ariv prayer of Motzoei Shabbos you will say “Speedily cause the scion of David Your servant to flourish;”“ and afterwards, you will celebrate he Melave Malkah meal, when you will think of Moshiach. When, therefore, Moshiach will come tonight, you will not fast tomorrow — and indeed, the fast will be transformed into joy and gladness!

Another special quality of this year is that on the Shabbos following Rosh Hashanah, we begin to read (at Minchah) parshas “V’Zos HaBerachah.” Parshas Berachah is always learned in the month of Tishrei. This year, it is learned on the greatest number of days possible — from the third of Tishrei until Simchas Torah. Thus the majority of the month belongs to parshas Berachah.

The Alter Rebbe taught we must “live with the times,” meaning to live according to the lessons derived from the weekly parshah. This means that this year, we “live,” during most of Tishrei, with parshas Berachah, the central theme of which is G‑d’s blessings. These blessings are in such a revealed fashion that one can point to them and say “V’Zos HaBerachah” — “This is the blessing.”