We asked Rabbi Simcha Weinstein and Rabbi Aaron Raskin to write a little something in celebration of Rosh Hashanah , the year 5771 and Yom Kippur:
In tumultuous times of social and economic upheaval, one must reflect with great poignancy on the big questions posed by the High Holidays of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. If one were reading a chapter in one’s own book of life, this may be a time to pause and ponder what that chapter is. What are our core moral values, and are we imparting those values to our colleagues in the workplace, family members and, most of all, our children?
The last couple of years have brought much pain to many. As a community we have seen much suffering as the poor and the needy have come knocking on our doors in greater numbers than ever before. Yet Judaism offers the timeless message that happiness does not come from worrying about the possession we are yet to acquire, but rather appreciating those which we have. As we enter the year 5771, we can learn a timeless lesson from ancient texts. The year can be abbreviated as 771, and through Gematria, a system of assigning numerical value to a word or phrase, we can learn a powerful lesson for the coming year.
771 is a multiple of 3; therefore, if we divide 771 into 3, the result is 257, the very gematria of the word, “awesome” (or Nora in Hebrew). Amazingly, this word appears exactly three times in the Torah, thus solidifying its connection to the year 771. We often hear college students around the neighborhood proclaiming life as “awesome”; yet the coming year will be a triple-header awe-inspiring year.
We have all watched in amazement the “awesome” growth of downtown Brooklyn into a thriving metropolis; yet we must appreciate the awesomeness of what we have.
Judaism is a religion full of details. The great architect, Mies van der Rohe, once noted that ‘G-d is in the details.’ Yet these details are tiny brush strokes in the magnificent painting of life, which we can only appreciate if we step back and study it as a whole. This is the essence of the High Holidays, a time to step back and appreciate the whole.
May we all spend more time on the things that matter most, and May G-d write and seal all of us in the Book of Life for a good, sweet and prosperous year.
Blessings and prosperity,
Rabbi Aaron L. Raskin & Rabbi Simcha Weinstein
Congregation B’nai Avraham & Chabad of Pratt