This issue has been dedicated by
Shimshon, Reuven and Malcah Formey in honor of the birthday of Chana (Roxanne)
Soul Searching -- Chodshei Hashanah
Vol. 2, Part 29
Jewish sources say that there is a fundamental difference between
Judaic studies and secular studies: The academician believes that his studies
are advancing, strides are being made, accomplishments in the field are
leading to new developments. The Jew, however, is trying to return to something.
The Sefer Hayashar of Rabbenu Tam is one of the classic ethical texts
from the middle ages. In the introduction, Rabbenu Tam explains that he
studied the other texts available with great interest, but came to the
conclusion that one could not rely upon such works alone. Instead, it was
necessary to assemble a composition of his own thoughts.
Rav Yerucham Levovitz dwelt on these words. People feel that a stirring
speech or a powerful text is sufficient to arouse the multitude to correct
their ways, but Rabbenu Tam indicated that it is not so simple. Just as
one medication cannot treat every symptom, so, too, people have different
varieties of spiritual maladies, and need different treatments. Each person
should put his own thoughts together until he composes his own "Sefer
Hayashar!" (Da’as Torah, Parshas Ki Savo, pp. 55-56.)
Elsewhere, Sefer Hayashar states: There are two types of knowledge.
First, the soul is able to understand everything in the world. Secondly,
it can know itself. This is called the "knowledge of knowledge."
By knowing itself, the soul can know everything, for everything is included
within it. (Sefer Hayashar, end of Fifth Gate.)
It is interesting that the study of human consciousness has led modern
researchers to conclude that many of the complex structures of the universe
can only be understood by studying the human mind. (Cf. Prof. Roger Penrose,
"Shadows of the Mind.") Of course, this is not our subject here,
rather, that each person needs to examine his own spiritual difficulties,
and consider solutions for them. By knowing one’s self, one becomes empowered...
Hayom Haras Olam -- The Birthday of the World
Rebbe Eliezer was of the opinion that the world was created at Rosh
Hashanah time. Actually, the date was the 25th of Elul; the first of Tishre
was the sixth day -- the day that man was created. (Pirke D’Rebbe Eliezer.)
Chasom Sofer (quoted in M’vakshei Torah, Vol. 3, p. 355) asked the
following: Ramban explains that all matter was created at one instant;
each entity took on its actual form, however, on a particular day. If so,
why don’t we celebrate man’s beginning on the first day of creation? The
answer is that man, by nature, makes mistakes, and is inclined transgress.
If so, by his very creation he is headed for destruction, and would bring
the entire world to destruction... Prior to creation, however, Hashem conceived
of Teshuva -- the ability for man to change himself. Therefore, Rosh Hashanah
was fixed on the day in which man was judged and forgiven. This is the
day in which Teshuva was actualized -- and the continued existence of the
world was secured.
Rabbi Yaakov Bernstein
11 Kiryas Radin
Spring Valley, NY 10977
Phone: (914) 362-5156