1. The unique qualities of the present year are reflected in the signs mentioned by the Sages of our people in regard to the days on which Rosh HaShanah is celebrated. Among them:
a) פתבג המלך — This phrase quoted from Daniel 1:5 and meaning, “the king’s food” is interpreted as follows: When HaMelech (המלך), i.e., Rosh HaShanah,1 falls on either of ב or ג, the second or the third day of the week,2 then pas (פת) — the parshiyos, Nitzavim and Vayeilech are divided. Nitzavim is read on the Shabbos before Rosh HaShanah and Vayeilech, on the Shabbos afterwards.
b) בשז — This means that if Rosh HaShanah falls on the second day (c) as it does this year, then the year will be shleimah, “full,” (a), i.e., both the months of MarCheshvan and Kislev will have thirty days. Also, in such a year, Pesach falls on Shabbos, the seventh day of the week (z).
Thus the present year contains three different states of perfection:
a) In regard to the months of the year — This is a leap year, when a thirteenth month is added. Our Sages described a leap year as a perfect year, implying that the addition of the extra month contributes a dimension of perfection to the year as a whole.
b) In regard to weeks — On the verse, “And they shall be seven perfect weeks for you,” the Midrash relates that the weeks of the Counting of the Omer are “perfect” when, each week, the counting of the Omer begins on the first day of the calendar week and thus, the conclusion of each week of the Counting of the Omer is on Shabbos.
c) In regard to days — Every year, there are two months (MarCheshvan and Kislev) whose number of days varies. In certain years, they contain twenty-nine days, in others, thirty, and in others, one contains twenty-nine days and the other, thirty. This year, both those months are complete, each including thirty days. Thus, this year contains the maximum amount of days possible.
The above concepts and similarly, the allusions associated with the Hebrew letters equivalent to the year’s number, 5752, (תשנ”ב) are all significant and are worthy of elaboration.
פתבג המלך — There is a thematic connection between Rosh HaShanah and Sunday, the first day of the week, for both commemorate the creation of the world.3 This connection is reflected in that chapter 24 of Tehillim which is the Psalm of the day for Sunday, is recited as part of the evening service of Rosh HaShanah.4 Since Rosh HaShanah can never fall on Sunday, when it falls on a Monday as in the present year, there is a closer interrelation to this concept.
To elaborate on this connection: The Torah refers to the first day of creation, not as the first day, but as “one day,” a day in which “the Holy One, blessed be He, was one with His world.” Although all the different creations had already come into being, they were permeated with G‑d’s oneness and did not sense their individual identity.
The creation of man was intended to bring the world to a similar state of oneness. And indeed, this goal was realized by Adam, the first man, directly after his creation. For he called to all the other created beings, telling them “Come let us prostrate ourselves, bow, and bend the knee before G‑d, our Maker.”
Thus our Sages explain that at this time, Adam crowned G‑d as King of the world.5 Similarly, each Rosh HaShanah, man must relive this initial experience and accept G‑d as King. In doing so, man — as did Adam — elevates the creation as a whole to a higher level.6
To explain: The Torah concludes the narrative of the creation with the phrase “everything which G‑d created laasos.” Our Sages explain that laasos should be interpreted to mean “to correct,” i.e., G‑d created the world in such a manner that man can — and indeed is expected to — enhance the creation through his service of Torah and mitzvos.7
At the beginning of creation, the world was brought into being in a complete and perfect state. This perfection, however, was within the limits of the natural order. Through the service of Torah and mitzvos, man has the potential of transforming the world into a dwelling for G‑d, a place where His essence is manifest. This reveals a level of perfection which transcends the natural order.
This concept is reflected in the Torah’s description of man’s creation: “And G‑d, the L‑rd, formed man [from] dust from the earth and He blew into his nostrils a living soul.” Man was formed from dust, for dust is the foundation of the entire creation, “everything comes from dust.” This grants him the potential to infuse the influence of the “living soul” into the entire creation, allowing the revelation of the G‑dly power which brings the world into being. Furthermore, as mentioned above, man can reveal a level of G‑dliness which transcends the natural order.8
When Rosh HaShanah falls on Monday and Tuesday, we see a unique progression. From Sunday, “a day of oneness,” we proceed to the two days of Rosh HaShanah which represent the state of completion which man can add to the natural order. Significantly, these days fall on Monday and Tuesday. Our Sages explain the significance of these days, noting that on Monday, division was created and on Tuesday, division was nullified and peace established.
Division is a result of the concealment of G‑dliness which characterizes our world. The first day represents G‑d’s conception of the world. In contrast, the second day reflects a transition to man’s perspective and from man’s perspective, the world is characterized by division. The third day represents the conclusion of the process, the revelation of how, even from man’s perspective, the division can be resolved and the environment can be characterized by peace.
This transition is accomplished through the service of man and his observance of the Torah as the Rambam writes, “The Torah was given only to establish peace within the world.” Through the Torah, the Jews reveal a third perspective which reconciles G‑d’s perspective of the world and that of man. For this reason, the Torah and the Jewish people are also connected to the concept of three. Thus our Sages relate in regard to the giving of the Torah, that G‑d “gave a threefold light to a threefold people in the third month.”
From a deeper perspective, it can be explained that although “division was created on the second day,” this refers to “a difference of opinion for the sake of heaven,” as the differences of opinion between Hillel and Shammai in which both opinions represent valid Torah approaches.
Hillel represents the approach of chessed, “kindness,” and Shammai, gevurah, “might” and accordingly, they render either lenient or stringent decisions. Ultimately, however, such a division can also be reconciled and peace established between the two perspectives. This concept of peace in Torah reflects a fusion of these two approaches, relating to the level of G‑dliness that transcends our human perspective.9
This is the lesson conveyed by the days on which Rosh HaShanah is celebrated this year, that after the oneness of Sunday, i.e., perfection according to the natural limits of the world, man will add to a deeper level of peace through his service. For the celebration of Rosh HaShanah on Monday and Tuesday shows how he can reconcile the division which he perceives within the world with G‑d’s oneness.
In this context, we can comprehend the relationship between בג המלך and the Parshiyos Nitzavim and Vayeilech. Nitzavim represents the essential stance of the Jewish people.10 This is amplified by Parshas Vayeilech which describes the level of perfection reached by Moshe on the day of his death. Every Jew shares a connection to this level, for each Jew possesses a spark of Moshe within him.
Vayeilech means “And he went,” referring to the progress reached by the Jews in their service in this world.11 When, as in the present year, the two Torah portions are divided,12 the distinction between the level of the Jews before their service in this world and the level reached after their service is accentuated.
The uniqueness of Shabbos Parshas Vayeilech is also emphasized by the fact that it is Shabbos Shuvah and it is the Shabbos in the week between Rosh HaShanah and Yom Kippur. The AriZal explains that the seven days between Rosh HaShanah and Yom Kippur are of a general nature, including within them all the days of the week for the past year and for the year to come. I.e., the Sunday of these seven days includes within it all the Sundays of both the previous and the coming year. On this day, one can elevate and bring to a level of perfection all the Sundays of the previous year and prepare for all the Sundays of the coming year.
Similarly, the present Shabbos includes within it all the Shabbasos of the year to come. The elevation of the Shabbasos relates to the very nature of Shabbos which elevates the service of the previous days, connecting all entities to their source.13
This also relates to the concept of teshuvah, for teshuvah involves the return of the soul to its source. (This does not refer to the expiration of the soul. Instead, the intent is that as the soul exists in this world, it should have the intensity of the connection to its source.)
The phrase פתבג המלך, “the king’s food,” also has the connotation that G‑d will provide every Jew with his material needs. And this will be done with generosity. Since each Jew is G‑d’s only son as it were, whatever is given to a Jew, even “a feast of Shlomo” is insufficient for him.14 Each Jew should be given all his needs and furthermore, endowed with wealth and prosperity.
The above concepts receive greater influence in the present year, 5752, תשנ”ב, a year which is described as Shnas niflaos bah, “a year which will contain wonders,” and these wonders will be bakol, “in all things,” i.e., every aspect of the year will be characterized by wonders. Furthermore, these wonders will be revealed in a manner of binah, “understanding.”
Wonders are associated with the coming of the Redemption as the verse states, “As in the days of your exodus from Egypt, I will show you wonders.” “I will show you” refers to the revelation of the positive nature of our service in bringing the world to a higher level of perfection.
Our Sages relate that “the world was created in a full state,” but that Mashiach will bring the world to an even higher level of fulfillment as reflected in the verse, “These are the generations of Peretz.” The name Peretz, the progenitor of the Mashiach, means “break through.” This implies that the fulfillment invested in the world at the outset was limited in nature. In contrast, through man’s service, the world can be brought to a level of fulfillment which is unbounded in nature.
The wonders of the redemption — and those which will precede the Redemption — will be bakol, “in all things.” Bakol is one of the three expressions of blessing associated with the Patriarchs — bakol, mikol, kol, as we recite in the Grace After Meals (Siddur Tehillat HaShem, p. 93, see Bava Basra 16b-17a). In regard to Avraham it is written, “And G‑d blessed Avraham with everything” (בכל; Genesis 24:1). In regard to Yitzchak, it is written, “I have eaten of all” (מכל; Ibid., 27:33). And regarding Yaakov it is written, “I have everything” (כל; Ibid., 33:11). Since Avraham, Yitzchak, and Yaakov are the Patriarchs of the Jewish people, it is self-understood that the above blessings are transmitted in every generation to all of their descendants, men, women, and children.
And these wonders will be associated with binah, “understanding.” Indeed, there is an intrinsic connection between understanding and wonders. Niflaos (נפלאות) the Hebrew for wonders can be divided into נ פלאות which means “fifty wonders.” Fifty, in turn, relates to the fifty gates of wisdom that exist in the world.15
The expression bakol mikol kol (בכל מכל כל) is numerically equivalent to the word kabetz (קבץ), meaning “gather.” Thus it serves as a reference to the ingathering of the exiles which will take place during the Era of the Redemption. May G‑d soon “Sound the great shofar for our freedom and raise a banner to gather our dispersed.”
May the Redemption come immediately, indeed, may it be that it has already come. For the newspapers have already written about Mashiach’s coming16 — may they continue to write more and may these articles be in the past tense for Mashiach’s coming will already be a reality.
1.HaMelech means “the king.” It is employed as a reference to Rosh HaShanah, for on that day, the Jews’ service centers on the acceptance of G‑d’s Kingship.
2.In particular, there is a closer connection to this phrase when Rosh HaShanah falls on Monday, for then the second day of Rosh HaShanah falls on Tuesday and thus the holiday is celebrated on both the days of c and d.
3.Thus in regard to Rosh HaShanah, we say in our prayers, “This is the day which is the beginning of Your work, a commemoration of the first day.”
4.Significantly, it is related that the service of the Rebbeim reached a peak during the recitation of this psalm. Accordingly, it is proper for the Chassidim to, to the extent of their capacities, attempt to mirror such service.
5.For this reason, the psalm of the day of Friday, the day on which man was created, begins “G‑d is King, He garbs Himself in grandeur.” This verse reflects an advantage over Adam’s statement, “Come let us bow….” Adam describes G‑d as “our Maker,” i.e., relating to the G‑dliness manifest within the natural order. In contrast, the verse, “G‑d is King” reflects a level of G‑dliness above nature.
6.For this reason, Rosh HaShanah which commemorates the creation of the world as a whole is celebrated on the anniversary of the creation of man.
7.In this vein, we can understand our Sages comment that the hay in the words yom hashishi, “the sixth day,” is a reference to the sixth of Sivan, the day on which the Torah was given. For it is through the giving of the Torah that the world can be brought to a state of completion.This connection is further emphasized by the inclusion of the description of the giving of the Torah in the verses of Shofros recited on Rosh HaShanah. This emphasizes that the purpose of creation is for the service of the Jewish people in Torah and mitzvos.
8.These two levels, the G‑dliness invested within the natural order and the G‑dliness which transcends the natural order, are alluded to in the two chapters of Pirkei Avos which are studied before Rosh HaShanah, the fifth and the sixth chapters.
The fifth chapter begins stating how the world was created with ten utterances, describing the natural order of the world as it was created by G‑d. In contrast, the sixth chapter begins: “The Sages taught in the language of the Mishnah…” emphasizing man’s potential to contribute to the world through Torah study. And thus, this chapter also mentions the potential to bring redemption to the world.
The redemption is also alluded to by the very combination of the two chapters, for five and six equal eleven. The world as it exists within its limits is structured in a set of ten. Eleven represents a level that transcends these limits. Thus the Torah mentions “an eleven day journey from Choreb.” From Choreb (identified with Mt. Sinai, the place where the Torah was given), one’s journey must reflect eleven, man’s ability to infuse an infinite quality into the world at large.
9.This level will be revealed in the Era of the Redemption when the halachah will follow both the School of Hillel and the School of Shammai, fusing the two opposites together in an approach characteristic of G‑d’s essence. (Although it is explained in many sources that in the Era of the Redemption, the halachah will follow the School of Shammai, that refers only to the first period of the Era of the Redemption. In the second period, both the School of Hillel’s and the School of Shammai’s opinions will be followed.)
10.The verse mentions ten categories among the Jewish people, implying that this essential stance is shared by every member of our people, regardless of his nature.
11.In contrast, Nitzavim, “You are standing,” refers to the level of the soul as it exists in the spiritual realms. There the soul “stands” in love and fear of G‑d. In contrast, in our material world the soul has the potential for Vayeilech, progress and growth.
12.This relates to the division created on the second day.
13.In Kabbalistic terminology, this refers to elevating the world from the level of speech to the level of thought.
14.This applies to every Jew, regardless of his level of service. For this is due to a Jew because of the essence of his being even before he begins his service. (This is accentuated in the present year when Parshas Nitzavim alone is associated with Rosh HaShanah. As mentioned above, Parshas Vayeilech refers to the advantages a Jew requires through his service, while Parshas Nitzavim refers to the qualities a Jew possesses in essence, even before his service.)
15.Herein, there is a connection to Parshas Vayeilech which describes Moshe’s death. For at the time of his death, Moshe attained the fiftieth of these gates of wisdom.
16.The Rebbeim emphasized that when Mashiach comes, his coming will be written about in the newspapers.
Translation by Sichos In English (sie.org)