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About Rosh HaShanah, the Head (Beginning) of the Year

I'm sorry I haven't been here more in the last week or two, to share more holy-day greetings and blessings with you all. I may not be here so much in the coming weeks, also, because it looks like b’ezrat HaShem I'll be working as a field organizer for Barak Obama's campaign!

But here I am now, and I want to share with you all this (very slightly edited) teaching about Rosh HaShanah from one of the holy rebbes of our time, my late beloved teacher, Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach (pbuh), who rose above all the political disagreements I had with him to re-introduce me to my own soul and to G!d's living Presence:


Elul 5746 (September 1985)

It's another Rosh Hashona. It's another year and sometimes we're so old and so much not alive that we dont even have vessels for newness anymore. So I bless you, myself and all Israel and the whole world. Because to have vessels for newness is the hardest thing in the world. Because what's really different? It's the same as yesterday. Everything is always the same.

So I want you to know that beginnings are the greatest gift from Heaven. Our holy rabbis tell us the middle is in our hands, but beginnings are only in G-d's hands. Then it's up to me what I do with it.

How do I begin on Rosh Hashona? Sadly enough, a lot of people think Rosh Hashona…is a time to regret what I did wrong and to promise G-d I'll be better. All cute and sweet, but don't waste your time with that on Rosh Hashona… Rosh Hashona is so much deeper. The beginning of all beginnings is connecting the deepest, deepest depth of your being to that which is above that which is above the above of the above. Rosh Hashona is the beginning of all beginnings.

You know beautiful friends if someone said I promised G-d to be good last year and I didnt keep it it's not my promise that wasn't real. It was my beginning that wasn't real because if I really began then I'm a new person and I have all the strength in the world to fix my entire life.

You know we live in such a broken world... marriages break apart, friendships are broken, parents and children don't talk to each other... and it's all because they dont know how to begin again.

So here our holy rabbis tell us that as long as our hearts are full of anger we don't have the vessels for new beginnings. As long as your heart is filled with sadness there is no way for you to begin and as long as your heart is filled with jealousy, beginnings will never help you.

So friends in these few days we still have left before Rosh Hashona and on Rosh Hashona itself, I bless you and me and I'm begging you and I'm begging myself -- let's get all the *anger* out of our heart... all the jealousy... all the pettiness. You know if I'm petty with other people, G-d forbid, then G-d is petty with me. But if I'm big enough, the more I open my heart for other people, the more I open the [Divine] gates for myself. Friends, the blessing people give each other on Rosh Hashona is so deep, so forceful, so very awesome. On Rosh Hashona every person can open gates for another person if you really mean it. I want to bless you and me that we should open gates for our husbands, wives, children and the entire world this Rosh Hashona.

Friends, I'm begging you, I’m begging you, don't be angry, not even at yourself. Just let's cleanse our hair, let's cleanse our thoughts... our holy rabbis tell us, the greatest joy in the world is when you…rejoice when something good happens for another person. On Rosh Hashona, the acid test is, how much are you praying for someone else? In the Rosh Hashona prayers, it's never singular, always plural [not "I," but "we"]. Because I'm standing before G-d and I'm saying unless you give life to the entire world, please don’t give it to me. Unless you make everyone rich, please I don't want to be the only rich man. Unless you give peace to the whole world, don't give me anything, unless you give it to my husband, my wife, my children, unless you give it to Yerushalayim [Jerusalem].

Friends! Let this year be a *real* beginning... New teachings. New words. New thoughts. Let every breath we take feel like we never breathed before. The holy Sochachover [Rebbe] says when we blow shofar, G-d absolutely blows a new soul into us. Lets keep this new soul so holy and so beautiful and let's inscribe each other into the Book of Life.

Love,
Shlomo

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