The Days of Awe

On Rosh Hashanah – New Year’s Day – we acclaim the kingdom of Heaven. It is a day when this world fades into the background and the kingdom of Heaven becomes a tangible reality. The whole period of the Days of Awe is animated by this truth. During these ten days, we put aside all our physical desires and our material concerns, and we focus our hearts and minds on eternal questions. There is no other comparable time of year when God is so close and our attachment to the Eternal One so great.

In Jewish communities around the world, there is a turning inward in self-introspection and a turning upward to look towards God for help and forgiveness. There is a powerful aspiration to start anew; to clear away our past mistakes and animosities and begin the New Year with a clean slate. On Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, many people who do not go to synagogue the rest of the year participate in services. There are millions of people around the globe with goodwill in their minds and contrition in their hearts. It is an extraordinary phenomenon that creates a tremendous opening for God to intervene.

On higher planes, the kingdom of Heaven is mobilized to respond to this outpouring.  From way up into the Soul of Israel there is a focusing of mind and energy towards those on this plane of existence. There is a great organization that works to see that those who turn towards God with sincerity are answered. Consolation and inspiration emanate toward Israel to strengthen and uphold the people in the year ahead. Those individuals who are capable of receiving guidance in the direction of their lives are overshadowed and put in touch with the Mind of God. Where there is purity and humility, energy is poured through to wipe away the stains of past sins on the soul. Love and protection, wisdom and illumination flow down from the Kingdom of Souls to the Kingdom of Humanity.

It is the power and majesty of this event that the Rabbis express to us through the concept of God as King on Rosh Hashanah.  More than simply God as Ruler, it is an imagery that awakens in us the awareness of His Kingdom. God is King, and only His kingdom matters. All else is transitory.

In the Sephardic prayer service, when the ark is opened and the torah is taken out, the following phrase is repeated twelve times, “Your Word, Oh Lord, stands in the Heavens.” This phrase is an affirmation that in the heavens, in the Kingdom of God, there is an eternal reality that stands in wholeness and power. The plan of God and the divine purpose are engraved in the Kingdom of Heaven. The souls who live in this kingdom are ever present to watch over the events of human history. God’s plan and purpose will come to fruition on this plane, no matter what mistakes we make, despite the setbacks our actions create. This is the immutable truth that we attest to on New Year’s Day.

These central themes are expanded upon in the Rosh Hashanah musaf or additional service. The musaf prayer is divided into three parts: malchiyot, zichronot, and shofarot or kingship, memory, and the sounding of the shofar:

The first section is Malchiot, Kingship. This section portrays to us the revelation of the kingdom of Heaven upon earth. In this vision, the Will of God overpowers the will of man so that all of humanity recognizes the existence of the higher spiritual planes. As a result of this new reality, the whole world turns to God and His service, and all hearts are lifted up in praise of the holy King and His Kingdom.

The second section, zichronot reminds us that the all-seeing Eye of God records and remembers everything that happens in the world, and He oversees all that is yet to come. Zichronot, therefore, is an affirmation of our belief in the existence of an all-encompassing, eternal Divine Plan. On Rosh Hashanah, this Plan becomes alive and vibrant in our minds, and we find ourselves urgently asking the question: what is our place in the Divine scheme? Suddenly all other matters seem unimportant and discovering the purpose of our life becomes the only worthwhile endeavor.

On Rosh Hashanah we rise above the petty concerns of the moment. We are lifted up into the Mind of God and given a small glimpse of the heavenly blueprint. The Days of Awe present a unique opportunity for us to link into the Plan. It is a time when our individual role within the greater whole stands revealed.

The last part of the prayer is shofarot – trumpet blasts. The blowing of the shofar is the call of the soul. Its sound has the intensity of an urgent appeal. It is a rising note, striving upward that awakens the aspiration to God that lies in our heart.  It is a call to see beyond material existence and recognize the Divine reality that lies behind this physical world.

The sounding of the shofar heralds the moment of revelation. It stirs the divine spark that lies buried inside each of us. The awakening begins in the depths of the soul and reaches out towards our consciousness awareness. Its influence builds and builds until finally it shatters our material consciousness and the higher reality comes flooding in.

The blasts of the shofar build a bridge of sound and energy upon which we can ascend into the spiritual realm. The sincere invocation of our hearts combines together with the responding approach of the Kingdom of Heaven to make this holyday a time of tremendous spiritual potential.

Because the Soul of Israel draws closer to us on the Yamim Noraim – the Days of Awe – there is a special livingness to its presence. We can receive enormous spiritual benefit from this time period, if we make a conscious effort to link up with this great soul.

Begin by imagining that the Soul of Israel is stretched out into the heavens above you. Visualize it as a tremendous web of light that is composed of myriads of little sparks – each one representing a single soul, or picture millions of cells that have been joined together into a giant body to fulfill a sacred mission for the Sovereign of the World.

Think of all those who have come into incarnation as part of this soul: the patriarchs and matriarchs, the prophets and prophetesses, all the great rabbis and mystics down the ages, the souls that stood at Mount Sinai, the souls that stood in the courtyard of the Temple in Jerusalem, the souls that gave their lives for the sanctification of God’s Name – especially the great focal point of light and energy that is the six million who died in the holocaust – the souls that worked to build the State of Israel.

Now imagine yourself as one part of this vast soul – one point of light amid the myriads of others that have been joined together in this spiritual mission. Then let go of your own individual consciousness and merge into the consciousness of the greater soul. Invoke the power of its presence. Draw its love and light towards you, feel its strength and inspiration flow into your own being. Know that you are one with all of Israel.

Now leave the soul of Israel behind and return to the awareness of your own individual consciousness. Feel the presence that surrounds you and the quality of its emanation. Finally, let go of all images and rest quietly in the silence.

The Days of Awe are a time of tremendous spiritual opportunity. If we seek God with sincerity and intention, then during these holydays, we can transform ourselves. We can align our lives with the vibration of our own soul and the eternal pattern that emanates forth from the heart of the Kingdom of Heaven.

 

Copyright © 2015, by Yoel Glick


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