Rav Moshe Chaim Luzzatto (Ramchal) explains that Adom’s eating of the forbidden fruit brought about a confusion between good and bad. This state remained until the Giving of the Torah (Matan Torah).
Matan Torah shook the world; good was separated from evil. Although good and evil now stand apart — the independence of good does not give it sway over evil. We still wait for a future “tikun” — correction, at which time good will dominate evil.
In this way, the Ramchal explains the special tefilos of Rosh Hashana:
Malchiyos — On this day we recognize that Hashem alone rules.
Zichronos — On this day He remembers all that man has done and judges him.
Shofros — The shofar heard at Mt. Sinai represents the earth-shattering change of the Giving of the Torah, when good was separated from evil. We daven for the future sounding of the shofar, when good will achieve dominance over evil. (See Ramchal, Ma’amar Hachochma)
Chazal tell us that Hashem made and destroyed worlds before He created the present one.
Kanfei Yona asks, “Why did Hashem build and destroy worlds before the present one? Since He knows what the future will bring, why was it necessary?”
One of the great fundamentals of Torah is “bechira chofshis” — we have free choice. Some of the kedusha from the primordial worlds remain in this world. These are sparks of light, which are covered with shells. The choice of the tzadikim is to uncover these sparks of light. (Yalkut Reuveini)
This concept can be applied to all kinds of churban — destruction. The initial luchos, written by Hashem, were destroyed. The Batei Mikdash, too, were destroyed. In each case, kedusha remains from those entities — our job is to find the kedusha and elevate it.
We had hoped that the pandemic would bring unity for the common good — unfortunately people are more divided than ever. Two authorities will issue opposite rulings — from one extreme to the other. They are diametrically, absolutely opposed.
During the Yomim Tovim we said, “Hashem ori v’yishi, mimi ira” — Hashem is my light and salvation, from whom shall I be afraid? (T’hilim 27:1) There is nothing to fear. Yet, on Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur we davened, “Sein pachdecha al kol ma’asecha” — Place Your fear over all Your creatures… (Machzor for Yomim Nora’im) This is, of course, fear of Hashem.
The fear of Hashem should bring about “v’yei’asu kulam aguda achas” — they shall bind together as one. (Machzor, Ibid.) Why are we so divided?
What could be a greater sign of Hashem’s dominion than the pandemic — but people don’t look at it that way. Some don’t take it seriously — others look for scapegoats. We just finished saying “unasaneh tokef” — that life and death and all the brochos and hardships are decided between Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur. We must take responsibility for our actions — there is no one else to blame!
During a cholera epidemic, Rav Yisrael Salanter organized bands of young men to help the sick — not one of them became ill. In urging safety measures for the Yomim Nora’im — his concern was that there not be a Chilul Hashem (disgracing of Hashem’s Name).
Rav Yisrael received much flack, but that year, his reputation spread world-wide. Alas, today everything is polarized, politicized.
Let’s not be afraid of anyone or anything — but “Sein pachdecha al kol ma’asecha” — Place Your fear over all Your creatures! We should be afraid of Chilul Hashem — disgracing of Hashem’s Name.
“V’yei’asu kulam aguda achas” — they shall bind together as one!
We must find grounds for common, civil discourse. See Medrash Raba B’midbar 21:1: “The entire Torah is shalom, as it states, “Kol n’sivosecha shalom” — all its paths are peaceful (Mishley 3:17)… The Amida concludes with shalom, Birkas Kohanim concludes with shalom… There is no vessel which maintains brocha akin to shalom…”