The month of Tishrei, the first month of the year on the Jewish calendar, is generally a time for introspection when we pause to reflect on how well we have conducted ourselves in the past year, and resolve to improve further in the New Year.
Thus, it is interesting to consider why it is that Rosh Hashanah, which is the first day of the Jewish year, commemorates not the first day of creation, but rather the sixth--the day that man, Adam, was created.
The introduction of one single individual to a universe that has been nearly completed--from the galaxies to the oceans, from animals to the myriad insect species--might seem insignificant.
But this sequence in the creation of the world--in which everything was prepared to perfection for Adam and Eve--conveys a message of priorities which is inherent in Judaism: The entire world was created for the purpose of humankind alone.
With this Divine design of a world created for humankind, the espousal of a population explosion theory, and attempts to contain population growth on a mass scale or in family life, defies the
raison d'etre of this world.
For if we recognize that human life is the reason for all of creation, we cannot but realize that each human being is brought into the world with the talents and abilities to enhance and expand the resources which G-d has put at our disposal. To perceive humankind as depleting the world's resources rather than as a blessing to its development in new and better ways, is to forget the purpose of creation.
Thus it is that the first commandment and blessing in the Torah is to populate the earth with human life. And thus it is that the Jewish new year, on which day G-d passes judgement on all of creation, should correspond to the creation of humankind, giving testimony to human life as the most sacred and blessed of G-d's creation.
This is especially significant for our generation which has experienced the horrors of the Holocaust and the loss of six million of our people. It is our responsibility to embrace human life and promote and encourage its growth with enthusiasm and gratefulness.
The blessing of life is a recurring theme of Rosh Hashanah. In our prayers we repeatedly ask G-d to bless us with life, and in the Torah and
Haftorah readings of the day, we read of two barren Jewish matriarchs--Sara, and Chana, both of whom were blessed on Rosh Hashanah to conceive children. These children eventually grew to be great people: Isaac our forefather--the first person born a Jew, and Samuel the Jewish prophet.
From these matriarchs, who nurtured their children with the values of Torah, we see that the priority which we accord physical human life must be extended to the spiritual dimensions of life--through the education and moral direction we give our children. For it is only through Torah that the blessing of human life can be recognized, and its ultimate standing in the hierarchy of G-d's creations can be appreciated.
A good and sweet year to everyone and to all of us.
This Message appeared in the pre-Rosh Hashanah issue of Lubavitch International, Summer/Autumn 1991