Happy Birthday, World! A Rosh Hashanah Message

My Mother and I have a custom around my birthday: she, of course, wishes me the standard "Happy Birthday" greeting. I respond, "Happy BIRTHING Day, emphasizing her continuing role in my life. On Rosh Hashanah, we celebrate the world's birthday, and more so, the continuing role of the Creator of the Universe, from galaxies galore to each cell, each "mirror neuron"* that helps us to recognize God within ourselves and in all of creation.We can imagine how a Divine Parent would want us to behave, and act accordingly. But what about seeing the world from this Parent's perspective?

The familiar words and expressions we use during the High Holy Days might give us some new insight, when viewed from a different angle. The phrase,

"Hayom Harat Olam" or, "Today the world was created,"

can hold many meanings, based upon the root word and combinations of vowels, suffixes and prefixes.  For example, the word "Harat" is related to the word for pregnancy, heirayon! The root can also mean conceiving, as Rabbi Lisa Edwards explains**. This concept, if you'll excuse the parent pun, plays out in  the song we sing to greet the Shabbat Bride, the song called,

"L'cha Dodi"  or, "Come, My Beloved to Greet the Bride".  (If you've ever been a parent, or birthed a book, you know that your weekday to- do lists seem endless. Greeting the weekend may well feel as joyful as greeting a bride!)

This Sabbath song declares that even when God was planning to create the world, Elohim had it in mind to carve out a temple in Time, to create an empty space wherein the Creator and the Created could just...BE. Lurianic Kabbalah*** imagines God as Creating the world through an act of "Tzimtzum" or, "Contraction": leaving a space into which God's children-all of us-might be born.

So, Hayom Harat Olam: Happy Birthday, World! Happy BIRTHING Day, God!

*(As Dr. Jay Lombard describes it in his fascinating book, The Mind of God)

**Rabbi Lisa Edwards, PhD, "Lost and Found: The Gathering of Women at Rosh HaShanah" in Mishkan HaNefesh: Machzor for The Days of Awe

***Gershom G. Scholem, Major Trends in Jewish Mysticism, p. 260

Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published