Sensitive Time

October 1, 2016 at 9:07 AM

“…On Rosh Hashana they will be inscribed…” – Rosh Hashana Liturgy

בְּרֹאשׁ הַשָּׁנָה יִכָּתֵבוּן – תפילת מוסף דר”ה

Rosh Hashana marks the start of the new Jewish year. Yet, the name of this holiday in Jewish tradition, Rosh Hashana, does not mean “the start of the year,” but “the head of the year.” As explained in Chassidus, this name demonstrates that the energy of all the days of the coming year is contained within the holiday of Rosh Hashana, like the life force of the entire body that is contained within the brain. And like the brain that diffuses vitality to all the limbs and organs of the body, Rosh Hashana dispenses its energy to each day of the coming year.

Sensitive Time


This idea highlights the value and critical importance of every hour and minute of the days of Rosh Hashana. Not only are these days greater than all others in their quantitative worth, considering that the significance of these 48 hours is multiplied by the thousands of future hours whose energy is contained in them, they are also greater qualitatively. For just as the brain-matter is more sensitive than the substance of the rest of the body, so is the time on Rosh Hashana the most sensitive and critical of the entire year.

We are therefore cautioned to utilize every moment of this holiday carefully. In the words of Rabbi Yosef Yitzchak Schneersohn, the Previous Lubavitcher Rebbe, (see Addendum to Tehillim Ohel Yosef Yitzchak, p. 205):

Throughout both days of Rosh HaShanah, from an hour before Minchah on the eve of Rosh HaShanah until Maariv at its conclusion, everyone…should be diligent in the reading of Tehillim night and day. For during these two days one must vigilantly abstain from mundane conversation to the utmost. One should sleep less than usual, intensify his devotion in prayer and supplication from the depths of the heart, and recite Tehillim at every free moment.

—Toras Menachem vol. 1, p. 221


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