1. The purpose of this gathering is to review and summarize the new year resolutions made during the month of Tishrei. Now is the time that the resolutions will be implemented into action, and it is therefore most important that we strengthen and encourage one another to fulfill these resolutions in a spirit of joy and with a good-heart. Certainly, no one will take notice of those who claim that the fulfillment of these resolutions is an impossible task. G‑d will give the power and ability to accomplish our goals, for it is G‑d’s mission which we are fulfilling.

One of the main tasks incumbent on the Jewish nation is to illuminate the entire world with Torah (which is referred to as “The Torah of light),” which includes influencing the gentiles to observe the Seven Noachide Laws.

This concept is emphasized on Rosh Hashanah when the fate of the entire world is decided. The fate of the world is dependent on the devotion and deep concentration of the Jews during the Rosh Hashanah liturgy. In the prayers we say, “He is our G‑d ... I, the L‑rd, am your G‑d,” meaning, the source of a Jew’s strength is G‑d and this enables him to extend his influence to the entire world.

A Jew must not be ashamed of, nor try to conceal, his true identity. He should be proud of and boast that he is a member of the Chosen People, a unique nation whose laws differ from all other nations. These laws effect every aspect of one’s daily life, the food the Jew eats, the type of education he/she chooses for his/her children, etc.

Success in the education of children is dependent, to a great extent, on Family Purity. Meticulous adherence to this mitzvah will produce children and even great-great grandchildren who will continue in the paths paved for them by their parents and grandparents. This will cause the gentiles to truly respect the Jews, to the extent that even their “kings and queens” — their most important figures — will deem it a privilege to assist the Jews, in material matters and in the pursuit of their G‑dly tasks.

A Jew should not consider himself inferior because he needs the help of the gentiles. G‑d forbid that he should wane in his Torah observance, thinking that this way he will be more popular amongst the gentiles. On the contrary, the gentile will reason that G‑d did not intend that he should assist this Jew, since he has become lax in his Torah observance.

The gentiles help Jews because their designated “angel” forces them to -until they comply by their own will. The angel only does this when he sees that the Jews are united with G‑d and Torah.

The light of the Shabbos and Yom Tov candles illuminates the world. When a Jewish woman or girl lights the candles, not only does it radiate light in the house, but the light also shines in the streets, where the gentile passing by sees it. When he inquires where the light is coming from, he is told that it comes from a little Jewish girl, whom G‑d gave the mission to light the Shabbos candles. This will make a deep and positive impression on the gentile, and thus the Shabbos candles illuminate the world.

The conduct of a Jew is such that he insulates his house so that the influences of the outside world should not enter his home. At the same time, he does not forget his responsibility to illuminate the world with the light and beauty of Torah and Mitzvos.

The resolutions made throughout the month of Tishrei must be implemented in a spirit of love and unity. This is especially so since we have just conducted the festivities of Simchas Torah, where the equality and unity of the Jewish people is emphasized: Everyone equally partakes in the dancing and rejoicing with the Torah.

At Mt. Sinai, when the Jews received the Torah, unity and love was also greatly stressed. The Torah relates that the Jews camped at the foot of the mountain “as a single person with a single heart.” The emphasis is, in particular, on women: When G‑d gave the Torah, he commanded Moshe to first speak to the women, as written, “Thus shall you say to the House of Jacob (women), and tell to the children of Israel (men).”

2. In addition to the above, there is a special lesson to be learned from this gathering being scheduled for Rosh Chodesh MarCheshvan. When one studies the calendar he finds that MarCheshvan is the only month in the year that has no festivals or special mitzvos. The Yalkut Shimoni explains that the completion of the first Bais Hamikdosh took place in MarCheshvan, but G‑d delayed its celebration till Tishrei. Similarly, the Mishkan (portable Sanctuary in the desert) was completed on the 25th of Kislev; however, it was not assembled and used till the 1st of Nissan. The month of Kislev was compensated by having in it the rededication of the Bais Hamikdosh by the Chashmanaim (Chanukah). So too, the month of MarCheshvan will receive its compensation — the dedication of the 3rd and final Bais Hamikdosh.

In this we see the superiority of MarCheshvan over all the other months of the year. In this month a Jew is given unique abilities to bring about the ultimate redemption with the dedication of the 3rd and eternal Bais Hamikdosh.

From this Midrash we also learn how a person must be sensitive to the feelings of others, just as G‑d was sensitive to the feelings of the months, MarCheshvan and Kislev.

A famous dictum of the Alter Rebbe is that “A Jew must live with the times,” meaning according to the lesson of the weekly Torah portion. In this week’s portion, Parshas Noach, we are told of G‑d’s commandment to Noach that he and his family should enter the ark. The Baal Shem Tov explains that the Hebrew word for ark, “Teivah” also means letter. He interprets the Torah passage of “enter the ark (Teivah)” to mean that a Jew must “enter” and immerse himself in the letters of Torah and prayers. This will act as a protection for himself and his family, just as the ark protected Noach and his family.

Our Sages relate that the flood in Noach’s times purified the world, upgrading its level of existence in a manner that it was considered a “new world.” Similarly, a Jew must not be deterred in his efforts to learn Torah and do mitzvos, despite the world’s terrible state. By immersing himself in the letters of Torah and prayers, he has the ability to influence the entire world to the extent that it will become a “new world.”

The Midrash Tanchuma on Parshas Noach it talks about the three mitzvos incumbent on Jewish women: 1) Niddah — Family Purity laws 2) ChallahKosher dietary laws 3) Candle lighting — Shabbos and Yom Tov candles. The Midrash explains that by women observing these three mitzvos, they rectify the damage done to the world by the sin of Chava (Eve). The women have the ability to change the world into a “New World.”

May it be G‑d’s will that each of you fulfill her new year resolutions and influence friends to do the same, which will bring about the speedy arrival of the Moshiach. The Arizal explains that the ultimate redemption is similar to redemption from Egypt. Just as the redemption from Egypt was in the merit of the righteous women of that generation, so too, the ultimate redemption will be in the merit of the righteous women.

I wish you all a healthy winter and much success in all your undertakings.