By Simon Jacobson
October 11, 2001
Time is like
a spiral. Every year on Shabbos Beresihis the world is renewed
(Shabbos Bereishis is the first Shabbos after the Holidays
when we begin to read the Torah anew).
Indeed, the Baal
Shem Tov elucidates the concept of perpetual creation. Existence
has no validity on its own and must be renewed each moment.
Like the words that stream from your mouth, the universe and
all its elements is G-d speaking to us, it is a form of energy
that needs constant sustenance.
Among the many
far reaching implications of this profound philosophy is the
hope that it offers us: Life is not a monotonous continuum that
just keeps 'rolling along.' At the surface level it may appear
that there is no movement, but brewing beneath the surface is
vitality that is being renewed each moment from its source.
At any given moment we can access this inner energy and renew
We are not just
like a dead pool of water cut off from its source; we have the
power to access this dynamic life force within.
We have a choice:
We either succumb and resign ourselves to the mortal forces
of nature that cause us to age and erode; or we tap into the
inner vivacity of the marrow that flows like a stream through
the cosmic arteries of existence.
This is the compounding
challenge facing us today, in the aftermath of September 11th.
When things are 'going well,' when life seems to be regular,
we can convince ourselves that we do not need to access the
perpetual renewal of "Bereishis boro Elokim In the
beginning G-d created." On the contrary, one can even argue
that there is comfort in the 'boring' consistency of life. Now
that illusion cannot be perpetuated.
the wake of the shock of September 11th we can deny the reality
that things are not 'regular'; we can respond to the terror
and uncertainty with panic; or we can access deeper reservoirs
of strength that provide us with a more profound source of security.
reminds us and gives us the power to create a new beginning.
We dance on Simchat Torah with unbridled joy -- joy in recognition
of our ability to connect to new sources of energy -- and then
we use these energies to recreate the world in which we live.
(literally 'in the beginning') contains the word "rosh"
(and "reishis"), which means 'head.' Like Rosh Hashana
and this entire month of Tishrei (the letters of Tishrei
can be rearranged into the word "reishis"), "Bereishis"
tells us that this is not just the beginning of the new year,
but it is like a head - it is the central nervous system that
controls the entire body of time. Every moment of this month
that concludes with the reading of "Bereishis" is
concentrated energy that has the power to affect the entire
year ahead, like the head and mind that controls the entire
So, renewal today
is the source of renewed energy for the entire year.
suggestions how to implement this in our lives:
1) Every morning,
first thing upon awakening, while still lying in bed, say the
prayer: Modeh Ani Lefonecho Melech Chai v'Kayom She'he'chozarti
Bi Neshmosi b'Chemlo Rabbo Emunosecho. I acknowledge You for
returning my soul to me.
Take a moment
to concentrate and think about these words and what they mean
to you. You have a soul that has been renewed (Bereishis)
this morning. Your soul has a mission whose contract has been
renewed. This is your personal mission statement -- the reason
you are here on earth.
This is how you
should begin your day. And this is how you should be focusing
all your activities throughout the day: Are they fulfilling
your soul's mission?
Before you go
to sleep say this prayer: B'yodcho Afkid Ruchi Podeso Oisee
A-donoi E-l Emes. I entrust my spirit into Your hand.
You will redeem me, Lord, G-d of truth.
Don't fall asleep
with the TV on or with a newspaper on your nose. Read something
spiritual; pray; say the above prayer; and allow yourself to
fall asleep with nourishment of your soul. Your sleep will then
be peaceful and healing. And you will awake with a fresh soul,
ready to take on the day.
2) As we begin
reading the Torah anew with Bereishis, why not commit to begin
reading the weekly Torah portion every week of the year. Besides
becoming familiar with the Torah, you will find now more than
ever the amazing relevance of the Torah to our times. The ongoing
Torah portions -- in their blunt depiction of the battle of
good and evil, the story of Abraham, Ishmael, Isaac, Jacob,
Esau and the entire subsequent events -- all parallel in a most
uncanny fashion the unfolding drama following the tragedy of
September 11th, and it helps us make some sense of what is going
on. Above all, it gives us direction on how to proceed.
In this spirit
-- and at the request of many of you -- we will be bringing
you, in this article, and in the ones to come in the following
weeks, insights into our current situation and practical suggestions
on how we can build security in these uncertain times; sources
of permanent security that can be implemented in all aspects
of our daily lives.
As always, we
also welcome and appreciate any of your suggestions and feedback.
If you have any of your own thoughts or have seen relevant articles,
please pass them on to us.
May this be a
year of renewal. And renewal that comes with joy.