The Hebrew month of Tishrei – its place in the zodiac, Rosh Hashanah, Nitzavim and Vayelech.
Contributed by Rav Nissim Makor
Remember, Astrology is not about telling the future, nobody can do that. By understanding the energy of each month, we are able to navigate smoothly through the month, because one cannot act the same way every month. Every month has a different energy and it helps to know what that specific energy is.
There are two very interesting situations in the portion of Nitzavim. We have a large Lamed and eleven dots over three words.
Even though this Shabbat is the week before the new month of Tishrei, we don’t bless the moon this Shabbat. Also we don’t even call Tishrei a new month. We call it new year.
The question is why don’t we bless the new moon? One idea is that we don’t want to awaken the Satan to the fact that the new year is coming, so that he can’t come and testify against the Jews. If this is the case then it is ok, but we get a lot of power (chizuk) from the blessing of the new moon. We don’t want to miss out on the energy of Tishrei because it is a very powerful month with all the holidays. In verse 29:27, there is a big Lamed. This Lamed is written in the Torah larger than all the other letters. Why? There are a few places in the Torah where letters are either larger or smaller than the rest of the letters. This is not by chance and the meaning behind these letters is usually a deep secret.
Lamed is the letter that created the month of Tishrei/Libra (according to the Sefer Yetzirah). The Lamed is the only letter in the Hebrew alphabet that goes above the line. What does that mean? The Lamed connects us to the upper worlds. During this month we are connected to the upper worlds all the time. On Yom Kippur we connect directly to the Sefirah of Binah. By connecting to the Lamed, when we read the Torah on Shabbat, we get the same energy as the blessing of the month.
Also there are ten places in the Torah where there are or a dot or a few dots above a letter or letters. In this portion there are 11 dots above the words, Lanu uLevaneinu Ad, verse 29:28.
What does this mean?
This is the tenth and last time in the Torah that there are dots. The ten times connect to the sefirot and also to the ten days between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. Being the last time, the dots connect to the Sefirah of Keter and also to Yom Kippur. Also why are the eleven dots this time? When we see the number 11, it always connects to the eleven spices of the incense/ketoret. The main purpose behind the incense was to purify the courtyard before the sacrifices. These dots are giving us a chance to purify ourselves before Rosh Hashanah as well as getting the energy of this month with the big Lamed.
Tishrei is a special month. Why?
The whole month of Tishrei is just pure Rachamim(mercy). There is an abundant flow of Divine energy into the physical world this month. We connect to the Sefirah of Binah the whole month and create a connection for the whole year.
We don’t have to wait for the new year to connect to this energy. This Shabbat we can already connect to the new year and Yom Kippur, by concentrating on the large Lamed and the eleven dots.
The letters of the month are Pei and Lamed. As we said above Lamed created the month of Tishrei/Libra and the the letter Pei created the planet of Venus/Nogah. I mentioned earlier about the Lamed which is the only letter that goes above the line. If we look at the white inside the Pei, we find a Bet, which stands for Beracha, blessings, which is what this month is all about. We have to a little careful about Tishrei, as Tishrei is all about building our year, for example, on Sukkot we build our surrounding Light for the whole year. With the holidays, we build potential. The problem is that we still have to manifest this potential and that is what the next month Cheshvan is all about. (Tune into next month to find out how we do it).
The line of month from the Ana Becoach is the fifth line.
The tikkun/correction of people born in this month is to make decisions with certainty. The sign of Libra are the scales. This sums up people born in this month. They are able to see both sides of a situation, but struggle to make a decision. They always have an internal dialogue with themselves. They vacillate between both sides and end up making no decision. They become frozen. Libra’s need to decide quickly, even if it is the wrong decision. By breaking their mold, they will eventually be able to make the right decision in their search for equilibrium. Stop thinking and start doing and trust in HaShem.
The big question about Tishrei is why do we call it New Year?
In Exodus 12:2, it says that Nissan is the first month. If that is so, Tishrei is the 7th month. This does not make sense. Why do we say Shana Tova/Happy New year on Rosh Hashanah.
For many Jewish people Rosh Hashanah is a time for the family to get together and have a festive meal. However, Rosh Hashanah extends far beyond a family gathering. Rosh Hashanah is a very serious day and actually a day of judgement. The very existence of the world is dependent on Rosh Hashanah. On Rosh Hashanah a persons video for the following year is produced and recorded. This does not mean that things are set in stone, as we have other chances to change our video, but taking Rosh Hashanah seriously, means that we are concerned about the upcoming year and realize that it is up to us and our actions to have a good year. It is proper to have a great fear of this day.
Rosh Hashanah is called a hidden holiday. Why?
We act like all the other holidays by celebrating, eating and drinking, yet it is totally different. Rosh Hashanah is the most serious day of the year and must not be taken lightly. It is written that we don’t sleep in the afternoon of the first day of Rosh Hashanah because it is not the right thing to do when we are being judged.
It is called a hidden holiday because all our work on Rosh Hashanah is internal. There is no outward repentance. The whole idea of Rosh Hashanah is to take upon ourselves new goals to improve. The mind is connected to the Sefirah of Keter which is the highest level. We live in a world of cause and effect. If a person wants to change something in his life, he has to first change it in his mind. Once he has made the commitment in the mind, the rest will follow. The mind is always the cause never the effect.
The Tzaddikim called the resolutions people make for the new year; “A new garment for the new soul for the new year.” They say that it is important to take on things that one can keep. Setting goals to high can cause a person to get disillusioned and stop trying. The key is to keep up ones resolutions the WHOLE year not just a few days or weeks. One Rabbi advised his student to add just one minute of Torah study. One minute might seem insignificant to us, but nothing is small in HaShem’s eyes. Also mitzah goreer mitzvah, one mitzvah leads to another.
On Rosh Hashanah we want to become servants of Hashem. What does this mean? It means that we have to act like Hashem. The seal of Hashem is truth. If we want to change we have to be honest with ourselves.
Remember the saying: “there is no growth in spirituality without honesty”.
Many people think they are ok and don’t see their faults. EVERYBODY HAS FAULTS. If we had to compare ourselves to Tzadikkim, we would see low we actually are.
“You shall do what is fair and good in eyes of Hashem, so that it will good for you.” Deuteronomy 6:18
What does this mean?
The commentators say that we have to act in a straight way(yashar). Do what is correct in Hashem’s eyes. Go beyond the letter of the law. Try and understand what Hashem is trying to tell us. I was taught by my Rabbi that the saying: “Derech Eretz Kadma LaTorah (proper conduct comes before the Torah), is the most important dictum of the Torah.
What does this mean? It is not a law but is more important than any law.
A person can keep the whole Torah, yet he can be on the totally wrong path.
Reread this a few times and try and internalize it;-
How is this possible? Remember the golden rule: “You can’t break the Torah to keep the Torah.” There is more to the Torah than just the laws. What was Hashem’s intention behind the laws? He wants us to act in a straight way. This is the most important thing and this what Rosh Hashanah is all about. Changing our bad middot. We have to have fear of sin. Today it is to easy to get caught up in the cycle of physicality and forget about spirituality. We can’t do Torah and Mitzvot when we want, and then put it away when we want to act in a crooked way. The best example is business. How easy is it get caught up in crooked business and then after work, go and daven Minchah/Maariv and ask Hashem to bless us.
Remember this. Torah is 24/7, not just when you are davening or learning. The whole idea of learning is to take the knowledge and internalize it. What is the difference between information and knowledge? Information only becomes knowledge when we use the information. If we learn just to acquire information it is better not to learn. The Zohar says that the Torah can be either a drug of life or a drug of death. How many wars and arguments have been waged over people interpreting religious beliefs in their own way. We have the commentaries from the Tzadikkim that explain and tell us how to act. We cannot make up our own commentaries.
There is a story of one of the Tzadikkim in America who was audited by the IRS. He was very worried that he had missed something and done something wrong. The IRS agent arrived and said he just wanted to meet the person who was in his eyes the most honest person he had ever met. Why? The Tzadik had claimed only half a pencil on his tax return because he said that he used the other half for private use. Think about yourself and compare what you have claimed on your tax return.
Think about this for a moment and you will realize why Hashem listens to the prayers of the Tzadikkim!!!
Rabbi Nachman of Breslev says;
“The Jewish people are above nature. A Jew who doesn’t sin defies nature.” That’s why the Tzadikkim who never sinned have supernatural powers. Regular people who sin fall under the forces of nature.
On Rosh Hashanah this is our goal. To change in a straight way, not to find loopholes to be able to do what we want. Remember the biggest thing is that Hashem sees into our hearts and knows 100% if we are being true. You can con people, but NOT Hashem. Hashem doesn’t mind if we slip and fall along the way as long as our desire is true and straight. Our desire to be straight is a very high level. Desire connects to the Sefirah of Keter.
We have proof from the Torah about being straight. When Yaakov returned to meet Eisav, he sent him a message saying that he wasn’t scared of him as he had lived with Lavan. He used the word ‘Garti’, Genesis 32:5, which has a numerology of 613. He was telling Eisav that he had kept the whole Torah. But in the next verse it says that Yaakov became very scared. The commentators says that he became scared because he was worried that he hadn’t always been straight. If Yaakov was scared, surely we should be scared. I can’t stress this enough. Guaranteed that if you follow this path, Hashem will grant you a good year filled with only blessings.
Rosh Hashanah is approaching fast, and everyone is seeking ways to earn a good judgement. The Kedushat Levi advises that we should judge others favorably. We should give people the benefit of the doubt and see the virtues in others instead of their faults. If we do this, guaranteed HaShem will judge us favorably. We have to arouse these attributes above. When we judge favorably, this rouses the same attribute in Heaven.
Rabbi Yisrael Salanter said that another way to earn a good judgment is to become a public person. What does that mean? Become a sharing person. Start looking for ways to help people.
The same way as we are required to give 10% of our money, we are also supposed to give 10% of our time. How many people do you know who gives 2.4 hours a day to helping others. This is not expected from us, but is one hour a week too much to ask. Volunteering is one of the best tonics there is.
Chazal tell us that the reward for Mitzvot is only in the next world. This is great but we also want some reward in this world, in our lives today. How do we do this? Go the extra mile!!!
There is a saying; “the extra mile highway is NEVER full. What does it mean in today’s world?
When people need help, volunteer. Be the one to help set up and clean up at events. Offer lifts to others. Look for opportunities and you will find them.
We learn this principle from Pinchas in the Torah. He went the extra mile. He was the only one stood up and acted. Because of his action, not only did he get the next world, but he also got blessings in this world. He was given the covenant of peace and also became a Kohen. He received immortality. Learn from Pinchas and become a channel to help people.
The Shofar is the tool we use on Rosh Hashanah to draw down the energy we need for the whole year. We don’t realize the power of the Shofar. There is a Midrash that says when the Satan hears the Shofar, he goes crazy. He can’t stand the sound of the Shofar. It is like the scratching of a nail on a blackboard, but thousands of times worse. The Midrash says that he is holding all the files of the Jews and is on his way to prosecute them. When he hears the Shofar, he can’t handle it and throws all the files in the air and tries to run away. When he comes to the upper courts he doesn’t have any evidence against the Jews. This is the power of the Shofar. Anyone who doesn’t go to Shul to listen to the Shofar on Rosh Hashanah is missing out on an incredible opportunity.
The reading of the Torah on Rosh Hashanah is from the portion, Vayera, which includes the famous story of the binding of Isaac/the Akeida. Why is this portion read? The main reason given is that the binding of Isaac took place on Rosh Hashanah but there is a deeper meaning.
Every morning, one of the first things we read in the prayers is the Akeida/binding of Isaac. Why?
The Akeida is the source of all merit for the Jews. Everything stems from this act. There is no end to the merit of the Akeida. So many blessings and salvations come to the world because of it. When we remember the Akeida, HaShem has mercy on us and it is an atonement for Klal Yisrael. HaShem binds all the guardian angels of the other nations and removes judgement from us when we remember the Akeida. After reading this we can continue with our prayers. When we read this portion on Rosh Hashanah, HaShem remembers the great sacrifice made by Avraham and Yitzchak and surely He will have mercy on Klal Yisrael and grant us a good year.
Every Rosh Hashanah, we are created anew and so is the world. It is not a time where things carry on the same the next day. No, Rosh Hashanah gives us the opportunity to create a completely new person. Therefore, Rosh Hashanah is an ideal time to change one’s behavior and ways, and to act like a completely new person. The actual reality is that you don’t just act like a new person, but you become a new person.
Free will is the very core of self-transformation, because teshuvah, true repentance exists only within a world of free will. While teshuva is often translated as repentance, its literal meaning is “return”. The goal of teshuva is not only to free ourselves of punishment and responsibility from our past. It’s about self-transformation, returning to a higher and better version of ourselves. We don’t only wish to escape, we wish to ascend.
Free will is an incredible gift that HaShem gave us. Only humans have the ability to change.
The first step of teshuva is recognizing that there is a problem to fix. It is impossible to solve a problem without first admitting that the problem exists. It is all too easy to simply push forward in life, ignoring our inner struggles.
A person’s actions express their very essence and changing those actions is a process of complete transformation. Free will is the foundation of this process of change. The only way that one can genuinely change is through the unique human capacity to assert one’s inner will, to create a new reality within oneself. It is this decision to change, to become a new, fundamentally higher being, that creates true return.
Change starts with a single decision to turn the tide, to begin building that positive momentum, to start climbing uphill and move towards your true and higher self. If you can take that first step and push towards greatness, your life will start riding that new wave of positive momentum. This is the power of choice.
This is the root of teshuva. If you can make a new decision, you can create a new reality for yourself. When the shofar blows this year, let us truly awaken and make a firm commitment to not only change but to keep the changes going. This is the key, one step at a time. Dig deep and make a commitment to change, YOU WONT REGRET IT.
One of the reasons Teshuvah works is, with the desire to change and become a new person, the yetzer hara cannot find the old person to execute his judgement because that old person doesn’t exist anymore.
Please take these messages to heart. It is worth more than gold. Use them and Hashem will give a GREAT new year. Teshuvah fixes everything!!!!!!!!!!!!!! We learn this from the word Kedem(history). It is written in Hebrew קדם. The letters stand for Kayin, David and King Menasha. If Hashem accepted their Teshuvah, surely he will accept ours. Also on Rosh Hashanah, Chazal says that not only do they open the books of the living, but also the dead. Your actions on Rosh Hashanah affect not only you but also your ancestors. Your ancestors can be elevated because of your actions. For people who don’t have parents, this is a perfect way to fulfill the mitzvah of honoring your father and mother. This mitzvah maybe the mitzvah that tips the scale.
On Rosh Hashanah we crown HaShem. Don’t miss out on this opportunity.