ROSH HASHANAH -- The New Year:

1) Anyone who hears the sounding of the Shofar on Rosh Hashanah from a man of true piety can be assured that he will not be afraid of thunder the whole year (5:3).

2) The blasts of the Shofar on Rosh Hashanah revitalize the soul and intelligence of every Jew. Each one receives a new soul and a new level of understanding, each according to his level. This new soul and vision are drawn from the inner countenance of God (35:6).

3) The blasts of the Shofar sweeten the severity of God's judgement (42).

4) The purpose of sounding the Shofar is to arouse men from their sleep and prevent them whiling away their days in slumber. When people are aroused from their sleep, the power of speech bursts forth with tremendous strength. This in turn leads to trust, and those who were barren give birth. Then men are brought to the true fear of Heaven and rele ased from sexual lust and the futility of superficial attractions and the `charm that deceives' (cf. Proverbs 31:30). Instead they attain `fullness of days' in holiness: they learn to lengthen every day of the rest of their lives by adding ever greater holiness and purity. This brings them true spiritual riches and the ability to reach the very he ights of contemplation and perception of God. All of this is possible through hearing the blasts of the Shofar from the Tzaddikim, who understand how to accomplish these tikkunim (60:9).

5) It is customary to go to the Tzaddik to celebrate Rosh Hashanah. Rosh Hashanah is first and foremost the Day of Judgement. But no matter how great the severity of the judgement and no matter where in the world it threatens, everything is sweetened when Jews gather around the Tzaddik on Rosh Hashanah. With so many Jewish souls gathered together and merged in abundant love, a wonderful joy and delight come into the world (61:7).

6) To explain more about the importance of celebrating Rosh Hashanah with the Tzaddikim, you must understand that the sweetening of harsh judgements comes about when thought is purified and sanctified. This can only be achieved through being attached to the Tzaddik. Rosh Hashanah is the source of the harsh judgements of the entire year. The way to sweeten them is by purifying our thoughts. It is in order to attain sanctity in thought that we journey to the Tzaddikim (211).

7) God gave Rosh Hashanah out of great kindness (Likutey Moharan II, 1:14).

8) Who is able to celebrate Rosh Hashanah? He who is worthy of binding himself to the roots of the souls of Israel (Ibid.).

9) The effect of Rosh Hashanah is to strengthen faith. There are great gatherings of Jewish communities everywhere. Especially significant are the gatherings of Jews around the true Tzaddikim. Through these gatherings, all the different facets of faith expressed in all the different souls are joined together in a common whole. They are refined, un ified and elevated. The sparks of new intuitions and perceptions flash forth. New levels of understanding begin to develop. The process continues during the Ten Days of Repentance, when we work on ourselves and strive to return to God. The sparks of intuition and perception are embodied in the mitzvah of tefilin, which are the `seal of holiness' a nd an aspect of tikkun habrit (see Tefillin). Yom Kippur is the climax of the process. The `seal of holiness' is perfected, and the flashes of intuition and perception reach their fullest development. Following this, on Succot the illumination which must be drawn into the world is that of Joy. Through joy we can elevate all the food we eat to prev ent it from disturbing our dreams and causing impure experiences at night. On Shemini Atzeret, the Eighth Day of Solemn Assembly, the spiritual work is to bring integrity to the faculty of judgement. If the judges are not honest it can cause unclean occurrences at night. All the tikkunim which have been mentioned here are also brought about whenev er the followers of a spiritual leader gather at his side. Rosh Hashanah is the main time for such gatherings because the source of the entire process of tikkun is to be found then. In fact the very details of the Rosh Hashanah ritual, and in particular the different notes blown on the Shofar, all have the power to bring about these tikkunim. Thus the first note we blow, Tekiah, has the effect of strengthening faith. The second, Teruah, causes new intuitions and perceptions to flash forth. And through the third note, Shevarim, we are protected from having distrubed dreams and being corrupt in our judgements. This preserves us from impure experiences at night (5:15).

10) On Rosh Hashanah you must force yourself to put all your power and strength into your prayers, and you must bind them to the true Tzaddik. The Tzaddik is the real `strong man': through his spiritual powers he is able to offer his prayer in such a way that the prayer itself is on the level of `judgement.'

And this is precisely the form of prayer that is necessary on Rosh Hashanah. Through this it becomes possible to extricate from the forces of the Other Side all the holy lifeforce which they have snatched from the Jewish people and swallowed: all the prayers, the acts of kindness and the wisdom of the Jews... The forces of the Other Side are compelled to vomit them out from their very innards. This is brough t about through the strength of the prayers of this '>> 'strong man,' the Tzaddik. Then the glory of God is revealed in its fullness through the converts who attach themselves to the faith of Israel. Prophecy and true faith enter the world and false ideologies are destroyed. This is a foretaste of the wonderful renewal of the world which is destin ed to come about in the future. In the new order, the force of nature will be nothing. The world will be governed through the providence of God alone, with miracles and wonders. Then we will be worthy of hearing the sound of the song and the melody which will break forth in time to come. This will be the chief delight of the World to Come (8:11).

11) During the Days of Awe it is a good thing when you can weep profusely like a child. Throw aside all your sophistication. Just cry before God, cry for the diseases of the heart, for the pains and sores you feel in your soul. Cry like a child before his father. Then you will be worthy of a beautiful etrog. The more profusely you weep the more be autiful the etrog you will have for Succot. (Rabbi Nachman's Wisdom 87).

12) On Rosh Hashanah you must be wise. This means that you should be careful to think only good thoughts. Then God will be good to us and give us a good year. On Rosh Hashanah you must be joyous... and on Rosh Hashanah you must weep (Ibid. 21).

13) On the first day of Rosh Hashanah people should be very careful to speak as little as possible. The greater the person the more careful he must be (Ibid.).

14) The day before Rosh Hashanah is a good time to present a redemption (Ibid. 214).

Online English translation of Likutey Etzot
A compendium of Rabbi Nachman's practical teachings on spiritual growth and devotion.
© AZAMRA INSTITUTE 5766 / 2006