The New Year is the beginning of a long chain of inner corrections that we gradually go through. We begin understanding our mission in this chain when we arrive at the Day of Judgment (Yom Kippur) where we judge ourselves in a strict manner.
We make a decision about what we need to do in order to attain the force which we have set as our goal. This force is united, and therefore, we also need to become as one man, uniting all of humanity.
This time, the unity includes not only the small group that once ran away from Ancient Babylon, and not only the nation of Israel. Now all of humanity has to reach unity with the general system of nature. That is how we understand the might and uniqueness of the Day of Judgment.
The culmination point of the Day of Judgment is when we read an excerpt from the Book of Prophets, Maftir Yonah, which speaks about Yonah the Prophet whom the Almighty sent to Ninveh to warn the people living there that the city will be destroyed unless they repent. History tells us that Yonah wanted to run away from his mission of bringing all of humanity to correction, where the city of Ninveh represented humanity. However, the course of events unfolded in a way where he understood that he won’t be able to run away and has to fulfill the mission that was entrusted to him.
The nation of Israel, like Yonah the Prophet, knows about its mission and has the power to fulfill it, and it must lead the whole world, the whole “city of Ninveh” out of its situation.
After that we have the holiday of Sukkot, when we sit in the shadow of a special tent—a Sukkah, or in other words, we cover ourselves with a screen. The four symbols of the holiday of Sukkot—the Lulav (palm branch), Hadassim (myrtle branches), Aravot (willow branches), and Etrog (a citrus fruit)—symbolize the full HaVaYaH, or the four stages of the upper force’s revelation in one’s corrected will to receive.
Our egoistic desire has four layers which we need to correct. Egoism is what stands between us, hindering us from uniting. If we can connect all these forms of egoism together (take all four symbols of Sukkot into our hands) and aim them directly at the force of unity, this means we perform the blessing called “Arba Minim.”
Sukkot is followed by the holiday of Simchat Torah (the Joy of the Torah), when we rejoice at the upper force which came to us all the time and helped us make the corrections and go through all of their stages.
Then we reach the holiday of Hanukkah—a state where we do not want anything. We only look at the holiday candles, but don’t use them. Hanukkah is a spiritual holiday because we only rejoice at the Light, at how the upper force sets in within us and separates us from our egoism or the evil inside us, while all of us together wish to connect to this force.
The next holiday is Purim, as opposed to Yom Kippur (Ki–Purim—like Purim). On Yom Kippur we observe a special fast, while on Purim, on the contrary, we eat and drink to our heart’s content, and rejoice. On Purim there is a commandment to get so drunk that you can’t tell Haman apart from Mordechai, a sinner from a righteous man.
That’s because we are no longer as ephemeral or devoid of all egoism as on Hanukkah, but on the contrary, we correct our evil. We correct all of the previous egoism and the evil inclinations against unity. That is why this holiday is opposite to the Day of Judgment, Yom Kippur, which is “like Purim.” On Yom Kippur the un-corrected desires merely become revealed, while on Purim they actually become corrected.
Now all the desires and aspirations can be connected into one whole. Every person can give others presents, demonstrating his love. That is how we reach the state where we do not differentiate between a sinner and a righteous man, since everything is corrected. You are permitted to do anything you wish, and it will be good! There is no difference between people. All of our aspirations, desires and thoughts are correct.
The following holiday, Passover, symbolizes our constant exodus from evil into good, from slavery to freedom. We come out of our egoism, “step over” (Pasah) it, becoming free of slavery, of the power of our egoistic desire which rules over us, and we rise above it.
Then we begin counting the days of the Omer, where we count the corrections of our desires until we reach the holiday of Shavuot—the Giving of the Torah. We discern that we have to receive the upper force, which will correct us, because the only thing we have inside us is the evil inclination. But in addition to the evil inclination, a means to correct it was created—the Torah, the Light that Reforms.
The holiday of Shavuot, the giving of the Torah, means that we have to receive the force for our correction from above. This force helps us to build ourselves, but we cannot remain in this state and so we break. This collapse is symbolized by the 9th of Av, which completes the cycle.
By building ourselves up and then breaking, we come to understand the reasons for our fall and the entire depth of evil. Prior to that, the evil was concealed and was not sufficiently apparent, but now we understand that we need greater correction of evil. By correcting it, we attain the end of correction.
It’s very much like promising yourself that you won’t eat any sweets, and then finding yourself in a confectionery shop where you are surrounded by so many delicious treats that you completely forget about your promise and the fact that sugar is bad for you. The pleasure enslaves you and you end up overpowered by it.
The same situation arises on the 9th of Av, but on a much greater scale. Yet through this collapse, we learn the depth to which we will have to correct ourselves in order to withstand the enormous “confectionery shop” which confuses us. That’s because we need to correct ourselves not just in relation to a tiny candy, but in relation to the entire, tremendous egoism.
That is how we attain the full correction. We attain unity and thereby reach equivalence with all of nature. But that is not enough. The story of Yonah the Prophet reminds us that we have to take care of the rest of humanity. That is when, after correcting itself, the nation of Israel passes the method on to all of humanity. It comes to humanity like to the city of Nivneh in order to correct it.
Thus, the entire world attains a state of prosperity, completing the cycle that is symbolized by the Jewish holidays.
From a TV Program “A New Life,” No. 434, 09/14/2014