This year Rosh Hashanah begins on Shabbat which is a day of rest, a day of delight and a day of pleasure which sets the tone for the entire year.
Having survived a one-in-a-hundred-years plague and pandemic that devastated our lives, businesses, cities and communities, Rosh Hashanah is a good time to reflect on the many blessings for which we are grateful.
Collectively we just experienced a global Shabbat. Many families had their children and those with blessed with grandchildren all move in with them, spending the last six months eating, socializing, crying and laughing together. This is a priceless gift that doesn’t even happen once in a lifetime.
While we were quarantined and the external distractions stripped away — the shopping, dining, theater and travel — we were left alone to discover our true inner selves. All our lives we are so busy earning a living that too often we forget to live. We learned that true living comes from within. We had the opportunity to learn the difference and to distinguish between inner joy vs. fun, inner hunger vs. cravings, honor vs. fame, intimacy vs. eroticism and love vs. lust. It was a Shabbat, a day of rest in the truest sense of the word. We were able to give our egos a rest.
When every day feels the same, in order to distinguish the 24 hour period of Shabbat, from Friday eve til Saturday night, we completely unplugged our TV’s, phones and electronic devices. People pay thousands of dollars for a Club Med vacation that we got for free once a week right here in Manhattan. Everyone was able to light the Shabbat candles on time before sunset because no one was late from work or going anywhere. Families got dressed up, enjoyed a Shabbat meal, discussed the Torah portion or shared an inspiring Torah thought heard on a Zoom class during the week.
With all the savings (besides the astronomical food bills and the extra inch or two around the waist) from no shopping, entertainment, dining and travel, many were able to increase their personal savings and add to the amounts they gave to charity.
Please G-d this coming year will bring an end to the global pandemic but we are not looking to go back to the way things were. All the beautiful lessons, invaluable experiences and perspectives we’ve acquired will linger and stay with us for good.
This is the world that the Jewish people have been praying for, working towards, and yearning for with every fiber of our being and every bone in our body for the past 3800 years. We call it Moshiach, the long awaited Divine promise of redemption, otherwise known as the global Shabbat.
On this Rosh Hashanah may we indeed merit to hear the ultimate sound of the shofar that will herald the coming of the global Shabbat.
Rabbi Ben Tzion Krasnianski is Director of Chabad of the Upper East Side.