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Rosh Hashanah is the first of the judgment days of the year

Our Portion for the Year

Our Portion for the Year

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Our Portion for the Year
Rosh Hashanah is the first of the judgment days of the year

On Rosh Hashanah the whole world passes in front of Him and each person is judged according to his actions. We have learned that Rosh Hashanah is the head of the year of the king, and who is the king associated with this New Year? It is Isaac [gevura], who is called "Head" because he is one of the heads of the King -- in the place called Year…

[Isaac, who is on the left side of the tree of the sefirot, represents the sefira-attribute of gevura or "fear/awe", and is elevated from Zeir Anpin --the intermediate category of sefirot, representing the emotions -- to consciousness as bina, or understanding. Chesed, the other “head” of the seven emotional attributes, is represented by Abraham, who is on the right side of the tree of the sefirot; chesed is elevated to consciousness as the sefira of chochma -- wisdom. The elevation of awe to understanding relates to the idea of appearing before the King in judgment and takes place at the time specifically appropriate for that, namely New Year.] There are four specific times the world is judged...associated with the names Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and King David

Because Isaac, who is from the side of judgment, reigns at Rosh Hashanah, it is the time when all people are judged…order. Each receives their deserved portion [thus setting the pattern for the whole year to come, each receiving the reward or punishment which has been decided based on past deeds.]

On the festival of Sukkot the world is judged regarding water [associated with the sefira of chesed]. This is the beginning of the expression of the right side of the King and is the reason why the joy of [the blessing of] water is felt by all [who have been judged favorably]. At the time when the water…offering was made on the altar in the Temple, this joy was pervasive because [the property of] water is known [as symbolizing chesed, the kindness of being forgiven]…

There are four specific times the world is judged. Rabbi Yossi said that …when we look at things everything is found in [these] four parts: you think about these times they could all be summed up in the symbolism associated with the names Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and King David… In these [aspects] the world is judged. …And in four parts (aspects) all people are judged all the days they are in the [this] world. [These represent the four times people receive judgment, on the days when the four sefirot represented by those names (chesed, gevura, tiferet and malchut) reign in the world -- namely Sukkot, Rosh Hashanah, Pesach and Shavuot.] Every single day the books are open and all of the deeds of mankind are recorded but no one is conscious of this and none bend their inner ear to listen to the lessons each day brings. The Torah gives evidence every day and her voice calls out strongly,… "Whoever is…simple [susceptible to temptation] let him turn [study me] here, to he of a weak heart she speaks whoever is lacking the ability to meditate in his heart about reward and punishment, Torah and mitzvot, study me!" (Proverbs 9:3). But there is no one to hear her [the Torah]. But no one is aware enough to pay attention to the voice of the announcer.


From Zohar, p.226b; translation and commentary by Simcha-Shmuel Treister

"Reprinted with permission from KabbalaOnline.org. Copyright 2003 by Ascent of Safed.
All rights reserved, including the right to reproduce this work or portions thereof, in any form, unless with permission, in writing, from Ascent of Safed."

Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai, also know by the acronym "Rashbi," lived in the Holy Land in the 2nd century C.E. A disciple of Rabbi Akiva, Rashbi played a key role in the transmission of Torah, both as an important Talmudic sage and as author of the Zohar, the most fundamental work of Kabbalah. He was buried in Meron, Israel, west of Safed.
Shmuel-Simcha Treister is a lawyer from New Zealand who made aliya to Safed with his family in 1993 to study Zohar. He continues doing so to this day. He also works in the Ascent multi-media center.
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