Thursday, September 3, 2009

Rosh HaShanah and the Importance of Self

We commonly think of Rosh HaShanah as the beginning of the new year and the birthday of the world. This is only partially true.

According to The Book of Our Heritage, creation began on the 25th day of Elul... and six days later man and women were created - on Rosh HaShanah. So in fact, we are celebrating the birth of the human being. Isn't this a little bit self-serving? We're using man's creation as the beginning of our year.

What seems to be self-serving is really not. We don't actually realize our own potential; we go around saying (usually when we fail at something) "I'm only human, you can't expect that much from me." We don't realize our own greatness.

We are reminded of this potential greatness by King David in his Book of Psalms/Tehillim.
What is man, that You are mindful of him, and the son of man, that You visit him? For You have made him a little lower than the angels and have crowned him with glory and honor. (8:5-6)

We can be more than we believe our limited selves to be - we can be just a little lower than the angels - or even closer to G-d than the angels are. Man has the capability to be greater than the angels themselves. Angels interact with G-d in a "face to face" situation. They have no choice but to see G-d's Greatness. We do have choice - and it is that choice of seeing G-d in our lives and involving G-d in our lives that can lead us to being greater than the angels.

Let us return to Man's creation. Man was created at the end of the creation process. The world has everything in it that a persons needs to live and succeed. A good analogy is when a guest comes for dinner. The guest walks into the room - the table is set with everything needed -plates, cutlery, glasses and good food. All that is missing is someone to sit down and eat. This was the world when Man was created. The world was created for us.

We are the reason for the world being created. The next question we need to ask is who we are. Many times we identify ourselves by our jobs. Other times we identify ourselves by what we are not and sometimes what we wish we were. A negative identity of sorts.

Rosh HaShanah is the time of year when we bring our "selves" to G-d. Generally it's our negative selves we bring. It's that self that doesn't believe that we are capable of being as close to G-d as the angels are or even closer. It's that self that doesn't recognize that the world was created for each and every one of us. It's that self that doesn't recognize our greatness.

G-d recognizes what many times we do not. G-d sees our greatness just waiting to be tapped. G-d sees what we are capable of achieving and who we can become. Most of our leaders over our long history started as simple shepherds or tradesmen and became more than they imagined they could ever be.

The same goes for us. We must realize our G-d given abilities in order to make a difference in our communities, to make ourselves givers and not takers, to see the good in others and ourselves, and to create a world that G-d would like to be a part of. Think big and start small. Every seemingly small mitzvah leads us to another and another. Before you know it you will be as great as G-d thinks you already are.

Everyone, everywhere should find peace, health and success this coming year.

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