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Posted on September 22, 2023 (5784) By Rabbi Yitzchok Adlerstein | Series: | Level:

.[2]When I call out the name of Hashem, render greatness to our G-d

“Seek Hashem when He can be found; call Him when He is near.”[3] Chazal locate this “when” in the Ten Days of Teshuvah. What indication did they have that this is what the verse means?

“These are the products of heaven and earth בהבראם/when they were created.”[4] The heh in behebaram is written in a small format. The point, say Chazal, is that Hashem created the world with the letter heh. Now, when Chazal speak about Creation, they mean the emergence of Man, who is the purpose of Creation. This is clear from their insistence that Rosh Hashanah marks the anniversary of the creation of the world, even though it was Man who was created on that day. The rest of the days of Creation preceded his arrival; they are not part of the celebration.

Let’s take a closer look at the letter heh. Two components comprise it. At the top and right are a dalet; the lower left shows a vav. The dalet is related to the word dalah, which means the impoverishment of being dependent on something outside of itself. In our case, it signifies a feminine aspect, receiving from the vav that it dances around. That vav is a male aspect. It looks like a straight line, and signifies connection of one point and another – specifically the drawing down of a Divine influence from above.

The dalet is din; the vav is chesed. In the creation process, din surrounds chesed. In a world deliberately left incomplete, din functions to arouse chesed, and move it to react.

We have only begun. Bereishis, so to speak, was only the beginning of creation! Looking back at the events of Creation, the Torah writes that Hashem desisted from all the work, “which G-d created to make.”[5] Those last words convey that there was still much to do. Much more would have to be done after the six days of Creation to get to the final building of a complete world.

As the pinnacle of creation, it is the task of Man – the being who bears the greatest imprint upon the world of the Divine powers of Creation – to advance the project. It is Man who bears the heh of the beginning of the project. This is what Chazal mean when they say that Man was created du partzufim/two images, male and female, conjoined. Du, of course, is spelled dalet vav!

On Rosh Hashanah, as we know, Hashem revisits Creation. He looks at what Man has done to either help or hinder the continuing upbuilding of the world. If Man has made a positive contribution, the world continues its existence. It is effectively re-created. If Man has thwarted Hashem’s goals, the world is returned to the tohu vavohu of primordial existence.

Because chesed is closest to Hashem’s essence, He gives us the Yamim Noraim. Rosh Hashanah – the Day of Judgment/din – strikes fear in us, moving us to do teshuvah. We in turn then use the shofar to invoke Divine rachamim, and draw it down upon us. The process, therefore, is the dalet of din moving the internal vav to invoke Divine compassion through the cry of the shofar, and link it to us. This is, in effect, a reversal. Previously, din served to bring chesed to light. Now, it is chesed that can permeate and change din. The vav now stands in front of the dalet.

This goes on for ten days, each day bringing more chesed. (The number ten is almost intuitive. It is the sum of the gematrios of dalet and vav!) They culminate in Yom Kippur. Chesed no longer needs any nudge from din. It has broken away from din, and is free to stand fully on its own. The day shows aspects of olam habo – in which there is no eating or drinking. While in our world, different midos of Hashem are displayed, the teshuvah of the season brings us back to a more profound place, one which preceded the midos. In it, there is only Hashem’s chesed.

Klal Yisrael is the Merkavah of Hashem’s Name. Our aveiros blemish it, create imperfection in it. He chooses to remain in it. When we return in teshuvah, we restore its wholeness. We are therefore told in our pasuk to call out His Name in its full significance. We do that through our teshuvah, therefore becoming a better Merkavah/vehicle for His Being. But our intentions should not be limited to our personal journey and needs. We should do it completely for the purpose of glorifying Him. We are the only ones who can add power, as it were, to His Name, revealing its fullness.

  1. Based on Meor Einayim by R. Menachem Nochum of Chernobyl
  2. Devarim 32:3
  3. Yeshayahu 55:6
  4. Bereishis 2:4
  5. Bereishis 2:3