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Parshot/Festivals

Understanding our mission

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Today [Rosh Hashanah] is the birthday of the world. Everything we know came into being on this day except the creator of all things. Why did G-d create the world? He desired a dwelling place in the lower realm. Ours is the lower realm. Why was man created? To be partners in creating the dwelling place for G-d in the lower realm. How do we achieve that? By fulfilling the mitzvot, thereby elevating mankind and the world, and by studying Torah, thereby drawing true wisdom and knowledge into our hearts, minds, and into the lower realm.

What then is Rosh Hashanah? It’s the day on which we renew our commitment to this purpose. We may have erred in the past year, but by making a decision to realign with our mission, we make ourselves worthy of a good judgement and blessing for the year to come.

Rosh Hashanah is actually the day Adam – mankind – was created, the sixth day of creation. Why do we call it the birthday of the world? Because the world without man was like a superficial, picturesque painting. Only with the consciousness of the human soul did the world have its real purpose. A stage without actors is a decorated room with no life.

Why is the world G-d created so difficult and replete with hardship and pain? For two reasons. Just being on the lower realm means that doing good comes with difficulty as existence is uncultivated, and the process of transforming the lower realm into a place of light is a major challenge. The other is that being part of the lower realm (unlike angelic creations), mankind has two impulses – good and bad. Man acting on his “bad” desires, emotions, and thoughts brings pain and darkness onto the stage.

That said, man’s soul has a special power to triumph over challenge and adversity. The soul is rooted in the highest source of divinity, and as such can overcome all hardships and transform darkness to light.

The other reason man is able to succeed is because G-d “stands” at man’s side always and when man makes a movement towards good, he is aided by G-d and in this way, is able to prevail. Furthermore, man is never given a challenge he isn’t able to withstand and overcome. Thus in every circumstance, we can be assured that we have the capacity to overcome the challenge we are facing.

The tools that enable us to rise and achieve our divine mission in this world are the study of Torah and fulfilment of mitzvot. These tools must be specific to the dwelling place we want to create.

So, as we go into the new year, we should acknowledge and accept the primary mission for which we were created; resolve to access more frequently and deeply the manual to realise this mission; and adopt the activities (mitzvot) that actively create the dwelling place for G-d in our world.

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