1. Erev Rosh Hashanah is a day of preparation for Rosh Hashanah. On Rosh Hashanah, as we say in our prayers, “all the beings of the world pass before Him as sheep.” Thus, Rosh Hashanah is not only connected with Jews, or with the human race, but with every aspect of the world — animals, plants, and inert matter. “This day (Rosh Hashanah) is the beginning of Your work.” The latter term includes within it every aspect of creation.

From the above we see that a Jew’s service is related to the entire world. A Jew must illuminate the world so that “nations will walk, following your light.” This concept of ‘illuminate the world’ implies the revelation of what already exists, not the creation of something new. When a room is dark we cannot appreciate the objects in the room, their identity, what they can be used for, nor where they should go. By simply adding light the nature of each object can be realized.

Let us look at a Jew, for example. A Jew is “a believer, the son of a believer.” He knows that the world was created through ten G‑dly statements. From this he realizes that there was a time when the world did not exist, and then the world was created. He realizes that the creation came about through the power of G‑d’s word. It is easy for him to understand what the Alter Rebbe writes in Tanya: since the world was created ex nihilo, its creation must be constantly renewed, that is, G‑d’s word is constantly within it, creating it anew each moment. Nevertheless, there are times when we forget this and relate to the world in a strictly material sense. A Jew believes, but when it comes to practical life it is possible that he will forget, even when doing so prevents him from carrying out Torah and Mitzvos.

Torah is light. It reveals how everything is created anew, something from nothing, every moment.1 Torah does not create the world; however, it illuminates the world, i.e., it reveals the world’s nature and prevents us from making a mistake. Torah allows us to look at the world and realize that it does not conflict with Yiddishkeit. It gives each individual the proper words and strength to communicate his ideas to others, even to non-Jews, as the verse declares “nations will walk, following the light.” The result will be, as we say in our prayers, that “every creation2 will know that You created it.”

This is connected with the particular service of Rosh Hashanah, which is the acceptance of G‑d as the King of the entire world. We prepare for the service throughout the year, but especially during the month of Elul, and in the days preceding Rosh Hashanah, do we find that awareness of this fact has become more powerful and that the concept is more deeply grasped. This is particularly true on Erev Rosh Hashanah. Then every Jew “dresses in white garments.” Each Jew is fully confident in the truth of what Torah has shown him, and he proceeds into Rosh Hashanah to accept His Kingship over the world. Furthermore, the world will not disturb this service. When a Jew adopts a strong stance, a stance whose strength is derived from Torah and Mitzvos, the world will strengthen his position from its every aspect. He will proceed to bring light into the world, adding more light with each passing moment.

2. The above is true because G‑d did not create the world as a secondary entity whose purpose is to be used for Torah purposes. Rather, the true existence of everything is that it is “G‑d ‘ s word.” It is Torah’s illumination of the world which makes this clear to us. With this illumination we can treat everything in the world as a holy object. Nothing will be seen as a strictly material object; rather every object will be viewed as an extension of G‑d’s word.

This concept can be explained with an example. When a precious stone is covered over by a number of coverings, it is not readily visible. Someone who does not know of the stone’s existence, may make the mistake of thinking that all that is there are covers, thus ignoring the stone entirely. However, someone who had previously learned of the stone’s existence and had been appraised of its value (so that he realized that there is not another stone of its value in the world) will not be fooled by the covers. A similar example is a stone which gives off light, or a machine or a substance which gives off radioactive energy. This radiation will pierce through the thickest veils. Even if many covers are placed over the stone, its light will still shine through. However, if the stone is covered by ten covers, and, especially if the covers are made of lead, which prevents even radioactive waves to pass through, then the stone’s light will not be seen, nor the radioactive waves detected. Nevertheless, only someone who has no knowledge of the stone or the machine, and does not realize that the covering was placed there for a purpose, will err and be oblivious to the stone’s, or to the machine’s existence. The person who is aware of the stone, also knows that the covers exist because the light is extremely powerful, and, were it not covered, it could cause destruction. Furthermore, if the coverings were lifted even if for a single moment so that the light would not damage its surroundings, and the light revealed, one would be able to see the light’s source.

The light of the stone referred to is a metaphor for the light of good and holiness. Our sages teach us that the world was not fit to use such a light. And that, had it not been covered, the world could not have remained within the context of material existence. This can be best understood through the analogy of sunlight. In order to see the sun’s light we put on dark glasses. Sun light is a good thing: it allows plants to grow, and it is the source of other positive influences. However, if one looks at the sun directly, it will damage his eyes. Hence, dark glasses are necessary. Similarly, the light of G‑dliness must be covered. When we put on sun glasses, they do not diminish the light emanating from the sun; quite the contrary, the sun continues to shine brightly and to give off its other positive influences. The glasses only protect one’s eyes. The Book of Psalms declares: “Like the sun and its shield are [the names of G‑d] Havayah and Elokim.” [Havayah refers to G‑d’s unlimited light, while Elokim refers to the G‑dly forces that limit and conceal that light within the natural order.] Were the G‑dly light (Havayah) to shine openly, the world’s material existence could not be maintained. An example of this concept can be seen in a story from the Talmud. The Talmud relates that Ben Zoma entered the Pardes [a metaphor for a mystical experience], and died. When Ben Zoma’s soul perceived the strength and the power of the G‑dly light, it became one with its source, and did not return to his physical body.

G‑d created physical earth and physical man. Hence, in order for that level of existence to be maintained, He gave us dark glasses, i.e., He covered up His spirituality. However, we must remember that we have a soul which “is truly a spark of G‑dliness.” The fact that we are wearing dark glasses should not change anything. As explained above, putting coverings over a thing does not change its nature. The glasses are necessary, i.e., the concealment is necessary, so that a soul can enclothe itself within a body and put on Tefillin, or wear Tzitzis. In the spiritual realms the soul can study Torah, but it cannot achieve the bond with G‑d which we attain through the performance of Mitzvos. G‑d wanted us to have dark glasses, but He also desired that we remember, and be constantly conscious of the fact, that a precious stone [G‑dliness] is hidden behind the cover, and that the concealment of G‑dliness was necessary so that a Jew can reveal G‑dliness within the context of the material world. This could not be accomplished if G‑dliness had not been concealed, i.e., if the world were spiritual like the realm of Atzilus. Similarly, this special service would not be possible if a Jew were to pray all day. During prayer a Jew meditates on “Knowing before whom he stands,” and he becomes conscious of G‑d Himself. His service is to bring that awareness down into the world (i.e. into his more mundane activities). Although our sages declared, “Would it be that man could pray all day,” we only pray three times a day,3 and in between prayer we are involved with physical activities, eating, sleeping, etc. However, before the physical activity of eating, a Jew makes a blessing that declares that G‑d “brings forth bread from the earth.” From this, he becomes aware that, even within the context of physicality, there is nothing else but G‑dliness.

This is how a Jew fulfills the purpose of his creation. Before the creation of man, during the first six days of creation, G‑d created a tremendous world. It was a world where one could see “How great are Your deeds,” and, “How many are Your deeds.” In that world there was no possibility for sin. However, that world did not fulfill the purpose of the world’s creation. That is a goal which could be reached only through the creation of the Jew and his involvement in the world.

A Jew must involve himself with the world and elevate it. It is related that the fringes of the Baal Shem Tov’s Tzitzis shook by themselves. Tzitzis are a material entity made from the wool of an animal. However, when a Jew revealed the G‑dly light in the Tzitzis, they began to shake. Even though a Jew lives a material existence (and hence might think that it is necessary to make concessions to his physical desires), he must realize that he is wearing dark glasses. The glasses are necessary in order for the soul to live in this physical world, which is the lowest of all worlds, and in order to bring the world to its proper level of existence.

The awareness, as mentioned previously, constitutes the preparatory steps a Jew undergoes before Rosh Hashanah. Through the light of Torah he adds light in his own life and affects the world around him. G‑d created the world and created the Jewish people with kindness; He did not want to see a Jew become lost in darkness. Hence, He created the Torah, which illuminates the world. With the Torah a Jew spreads light in the world and comes to understand, feel, and, if he merits, actually see, how G‑d’s word brings the entire creation into existence every moment. This is a Jew’s mission in life — to look at the world without letting the dark glasses he is wearing affect his perception. He must realize the truth. If not, he is living in darkness; he will not know what to do, and, hence, he will do things which are not proper. When a Jew knows the truth he realizes that the dark glasses merely add a superficial dimension to existence; they do not affect the world’s true nature.

Thus, on Erev Rosh Hashanah, we meditate on the fact that we cannot see the above with our physical eyes because we are wearing dark glasses. However, we do not live with a mistaken perception. We realize the truth and we are conscious of the precious stone that is hidden beneath the covers. We realize that the world’s existence is constantly being maintained by G‑d’s word. This is a proper preparation to be made on Erev Rosh Hashanah.

Deed is most essential. One must become involved in spreading Yiddishkeit, in spreading the wellsprings of Chassidus outward, and, particularly, we must involve ourselves in the 10 Mivtzoyim. They are based on the command “Love your fellowman as yourself.” Just as each Jew does not want to be fooled by the dark glasses, by the darkness of the world, he is also anxious to spread a G‑dly awareness to others. This is an important preparation for Rosh Hashanah. Thus we all stand together, as we read in the Torah reading of the previous Shabbos, “the heads and the water carriers,” to enter into a covenant with G‑d and to renew our eternal bond with him. Just as G‑d is eternal, so is His covenant with the Jewish people eternal.

With Ahavas Yisroel we can communicate the truth of G‑dliness to other Jews, even within the context of this physical world. This goal leads to education; educating oneself, and educating others, to study Torah and to fulfill Mitzvos. This is related to Tefillin, as our sages declared, “The entire Torah is related to Tefillin.” This will inspire a Jew to add Jewishness to every aspect of his possessions, particularly his house, by affixing a Kosher Mezuzah on each door. Likewise, he will reach out and give Tzedakah to his fellow man. Just as he receives Tzedakah from G‑d, receiving his soul each morning as we acknowledge in the Modeh Ani prayer, he will act in a similar manner and, to an unbounded degree, give Tzedakah to others. And his house will be full with holy Torah books which teach about Torah and Mitzvos. This is based on the efforts of the Jewish women, and similarly the Jewish girls, who show a strong commitment to the lighting of the Shabbos candles.4

All the above is particularly relevant in a year of Hakhel, a year which unifies the Jewish people.5 In the few hours that remain until Rosh Hashanah it is necessary to increase our efforts in the above mentioned Mitzvah campaigns. Also, it is important to make sure that every Jew has the opportunity to celebrate Rosh Hashanah in the proper fashion: to “eat savvy foods and drink sweet beverages,” and know that “the joy of G‑d is your strength.” Then we will have a happy Rosh Hashanah and a happy Shabbos which will lead to a happy year — a good and sweet year — a year that brings the ultimate joy, the coming of the true and complete redemption led by Moshiach, speedily, in our days.