ESSAY: The Times of Our Lives
A new future is often associated with a break from the
past. But there are junctures in time where two time-essences
overlap and the one blesses her very different sister
INSIGHTS: Whats in a Name?
The holiness of language
A TELLING STORY: The Rich Partner
A paternity suit is brought against a much-overlooked parent
To the physicist it is the fourth dimension, to the mystic
it is the first creation. To most of us, time is simply a
faceless tyrant, an abstract force impelling us from a receding
past through a fleeting present to an ever-elusive future.
But viewed from the perspective of Torah, the seemingly homogeneous
plain of time is revealed as a complex, multi-faceted
terrain. The hour, the day, the week, the month, the year,
the millenniumthese are not arbitrary grids imposed
on time to make it more manageable, but demarcations
intrinsic to its very nature, each defining an area of time
with its own characteristics and qualities.
Thus the Torah tells us that the seven days of the week are
embodiments of the seven divine attributeslove, severity,
beauty, victory, splendor, foundation and sovereigntywhich
define G-ds involvement with our reality, as established
in the original seven days of creation. We also learn that the twelve hours of the day
and the twelve months of the year correspond to the twelve
configurations of the divine name,
which serve as channels for various divine energies that vitalize
our existence and shape our lives. The same applies to all
time designations employed by the Torah: as G-ds blueprint
for creation, the Torah does not merely delegate
certain observances and experiences to certain times, but,
in doing so, also describes the nature and structure of time
as forged by the Creator.
The concept of the month as an embodiment of a certain characteristic
or quality implies a unique perspective on the Jewish calendar.
The calendar is commonly regarded as an expanse of several
hundred ordinary days dotted with festivals and
dates of special import. In truth, however, the festivals
are not islands of poignancy in a sea of vapid time, but expressions
of the spiritual character of their respective months. The
eight days of Passover represent an intensification of the
quality of the month of Nissan, the month of redemption; Purim
is a one-day eruption of the unbridled joy that characterizes
the month of Adar; the awe of Rosh HaShanah and Yom Kippur
and the joy and unity experienced on Sukkot are various elements
in the coronation of G-d as king of the universe,
which is the theme of the month of Tishrei; and so on.
In other words, the twelve months of the calendar are twelve
time-qualities which flow into each other, each with its unique
personality and character. The festivals are the peaks and
plateaus of these time-qualitiespoints at which a particular
months properties achieve a greater intensity and emphasis.
The last Shabbat of each month is Shabbat Mevarchim HaChodeshthe
Shabbat that blesses the month. On this Shabbat,
a special prayer is recited which names the coming month,
identifies the day (or days) of its Rosh Chodesh, and beseeches G-d to renew it... for life and for peace,
for gladness and for joy, for deliverance and for consolation.
 According to Chassidic teaching, the blessing
of the month evokes the flow of sustenance and spiritual
energy for the coming month.
Thus, the final days of each month form a juncture in the
terrain of time in which two time-qualities overlap. For example,
this Shabbat is the 29th of Av; as such, it is an integral
part of the month of Av, a time-segment whose quality is mourning
and consolationmourning over the destruction of the
Holy Temple and the breakdown in our relationship with G-d
that this represents, and consolation in the potential for
renewal that lies in every regression. On the other hand, it is also the
Shabbat that calls forth the qualities of the coming month
of Elula month characterized by divine compassion and
intimacy with G-d.
The same is true of every Shabbat Mevarchim: rooted
in one month and time-quality, it evokes the time-quality
of the following month, stimulating the flow of spiritual
energy that saturates the next of the twelve time-segments
that comprise the calendar.
Therein lies a lesson in how we are to experience and utilize
the various time periods of our lives.
Often, we reach a point in our lives at which we are inspired
to turn OVER a new leaf: to reassess our past,
and readjust, or even radically transform, our prior vision
and approach to life. All too often, this is accompanied with
a break from the past, a disavowal of all prior
achievement; it is as if all we have done up to this point
must be eradicated to give way to our new self.
But as the monthly Shabbat Mevarchim teaches us, different
and even antithetical qualities of time form a chain in which
each link is an outgrowth of its predecessor. Yes, a new year,
month, week, day, hour or moment must always provoke us to
a new understanding, a new feeling, a new achievement: the
very fact that we have passed from one time-frame to another
means that we must exploit the new potential implicit in this
new environment. At the same time, however, we must appreciate
how each new moment is blessed by the moment before,
which nourishes and enriches its very different neighbor with
its own qualities and achievements.
Based on the Rebbes talks on Sivan 28, 5735 (June
7, 1975) and on other occasions
Whats in a Name?
The world was created with ten [divine] utterances.
Ethics of the Fathers, 5:1
G-d formed every beast of the field and every bird of
the air, and brought them to the man to see what he would
call them. And whatever the man called every living creature,
that was its name.
Says the Midrash: When G-d came to create man, He consulted
with the angels.... Said they to Him: This man, what
is his worth? Said He to them: His wisdom is greater
than yours. G-d brought before them the beasts, the
wild animals and the birds and asked them, This, what
is its name? and they did not know. He then brought
them before man... and man said, This is a shor
(ox), this is a chamor (donkey), this is a sus
(horse) and this is a gamal (camel).... 
Naming things seems easy enough. One selects a syllable or
two, coins a word and attaches it to an object. If one wants
to be scientific about it, one selects a distinctive feature
or two, transfigures them into a Latin-sounding name of eight
or ten syllables, andpresto!one has a name. Why,
then, is the ability to name names indicative of a wisdom
greater than that of the angels? And why does the Creator
consider this ability on the part of man as the one thing
that most characterizes his worth as a human being?
A World of Words
The world was created by divine speech. G-d said, Let
there be light... oceans... trees... fish... and these
words came to constitute the essence of every created entity.
In other words, what we experience as physical light is not
merely something that the divine words Let there be
light caused to come into being; it is the very word
light being continually articulated by the Creator as a verbal
expression of the desire that it exist. The same is true of
all other creations: a cow, a fish, a tree, a stonethese
are all our physical perceptions of the divine words they
[The ten utterances, which are quoted in the
Torahs account of creation, actually specify only the
names of a few primary creations (light, water, land, etc.)
and several general categories (stars, trees, fish, birds,
etc.). But these elementary creations contain within themselveson
both the linguistic and physical levelsthe myriad particulars
of the created existence. Ultimately, every created thing
has a name in the Holy Tongue, a name that, if not explicit
in the ten utterances of the first chapter of
Genesis, is nonetheless implicit therein, by the means of
gematria or one of the several other systems of letter transfiguration
of the Hebrew language.]
Therein lies the difference between the Holy Tongue (lashon
hakodesh) and other languages.
In all other languages, a word is assigned to an existing
entity. If there was a reason why a particular word was originally
married to a particular object, this is not a matter of great
relevance. If the English word ox were to be chosen
for that obstinate, silly-looking animal with the long ears,
while the word donkey referred to the heavy-set fellow
with the horns, this would not make a whit of difference.
Language would still be performing its commonly assumed function:
identifying objects by some agreed-upon arrangement of verbal
sounds and letters.
But language, in its truest, holy, sense, is
far more than that. In the Holy Tongue, a word precedes its
subject, creates it, and constitutes its very being. It articulates
the divine desire that it be, expressing its Creators
perception of its qualities and functionof the end toward
which He created it.
So for Adam to call even a single creature by its original,
quintessential name, he had to know it utterly. He had to
possess the wisdom and insight to penetrate its external form
and recognize the holiness withinthe divine
utility and purpose that lies at its heart.
This ability to recognize and name most expresses the role
of man in creation.
Every creature possesses the potential to articulate its
Creators goodness and perfection. But it is man who
actualizes this potential through his development and utilization
of his fellow creations and his incorporation of them in his
service of the Almighty. Only man has been imbued with the
essentially divine quality of free choice; thus,
only his actions have moral significance. All of creation
can, therefore, realize its divine purpose only through him.
This is the deeper significance of the Hebrew word vayikra,
and he called, used by the Torah in describing
Adams calling the name of every creature. As its English
counterpart, the Hebrew word kara connotes both calling
and calling forth; Adams calling of names
was a demonstration of his ability to call forth and bring
to light the name and essence of every created
thing, by recognizing and developing its potential to serve
him in his service of G-d.
When man harnesses the ox to the plow and uses the proceeds
to perform a self-transcending act such as charity, prayer
or Torah study, every element of creation that was involved
in this actthe energy of the ox, the vegetative potential
of the soil, the nourishing water and sunlightachieves
something it could never have on its own. It transcends the
limits of its own external being and realizes the purpose
for which it was created.
Based on the talks of the Rebbe, Simchat Torah 5731 (October
23, 1970) and Kislev, 5750 (December 23, 1989)
This is an excerpt from "Beyond the Letter of the Law"
published by The Meaningful Life Center. To order contact
The Rich Partner
One Friday afternoon, a man knocked on the door of Rabbi
Yizchak Eizik, rabbi of Vitebsk. Rabbi, I have a din-Torah
(a matter of litigation),'' he said. I request that
you to hear my case and hand down a ruling.
The truth is, said the rabbi, that I'm
quite busy now with the preparations for Shabbat. Perhaps
you and your litigant can come after Shabbat, and I'll hear
you both out.
I'm a melamed, said the man, who teaches
children from morning to night. The only time I'm free is
on Friday afternoons.
Very well, said Rabbi Yizchak Eizik, I'll
hear your case now. But we must summon your litigant. It is
forbidden for me to hear your arguments when he isn't present.
He is present, said the man. My din-Torah
is with G-d.
Okay, said Rabbi Yizchak Eizik, after a long
pause. Have a seat, and I'll try your case.
Said the melamed: G-d has blessed me with a daughter,
who has now reached marriageable age. But I have not a kopeck
in my pocket---no money for clothes, wedding expenses, much
less a dowry. My claim is that G-d is legally obligated to
provide for my daughter's wedding.
What is your basis for such a claim? asked Rabbi
The Torah states that There are three partners
to a person: his father, mother and G-d.
Two of the partners are paupers, but the third partner is,
by His own attestation, quite wealthy: does He not declare
Mine is silver, Mine is gold?
It is therefore the duty of the rich partner to assume the
expenditures of our joint endeavor.
The Rabbi retreated to his study to check the relevant sources
and ponder the case. After a while he emerged with his verdict.
The melamed is in the right, he declared. The
Almighty is duty-bound, by Torah law, to provide for the young
When the melamed neared home, he saw a luxurious coach pulling
driving away from his dilapidated hut. You won't believe
what just happened, said his wife, the moment he came
through the door. Some nobleman was here with his wife.
The lady has it in her mind that someone has given her the
evil eye, and has heard that the melamed's wife knows the
proper charms to ward it off. I did as she asked, and then
the nobleman asked me how much they owe me. I decided to go
for broke, and named the sum we need for dowry and wedding
expenses. Without a word, he put the money on the table and
Adapted from the teachings of the Rebbe by Yanki Tauber
. As are the seven years of the shemittah
cycle, the seven shemittot of the yovel cycle,
and the seven millennia of history.
. The Hebrew letters which spell the ineffable name
of G-d, have twelve possible configurations.
. Midrash Rabbah, Bereishit 1:2.
. Each month begins with either one or two days of
Rosh Chodesh (head of the month; if the
previous month had 30 days, then the 30th of the previous
month and the first of the new month serve as the new months
. It is also customary to announce the exact moment
of the molad halevanah (birth of the moon)
that marks the beginning of the coming month.
. Thus the 9th of Av is both the day of the Temples
destruction and the birthday of Moshiach (see Jerusalem
Talmud, Berachot 2:4).
. See the following article, A Haven in Time;
see also The King in the Field, to be published In
the Ki Tavo issue of WIR (vol. VIII, no. 54).
 Midrash Rabba, Bereishit 17:5.
 See Tanya, part II, ch. 1.
 The same is true of a persons name: it forms
the channel through which his soul radiates life into his
body, doing much to define his nature and character. In
the words of Elazar ben Pedat, Ones name has
an influence on ones life (Talmud, Berachot
7b). Our sages have therefore said that parents naming
of their child is a small prophecy.
 The angels may have been able to know the essence
of a creature from the perspective of the spiritual realm
they occupy. But to relate to a fodder-chomping ox and discern
the way in which its physical, animal qualities can be directed
to serve the divine purpose in creation was beyond their
spiritually defined (and confined) abilities.
 In the words of the Talmud (Kiddushin 82a): The
entire world was created to serve me, and I was created
to serve my Creator. Chassidic master Rabbi Mendel
of Kotzk thus advised: A person should always have
two pockets in his garment: in one he should keep the verse,
I am but dust and ashes, and in the other the
Talmudic adage For my sake was the world created.
 Talmud, Kiddushin 30b.