Michael Laitman, On The Times of Israel: “What Holidays Are Celebrated During the Month of Tishrei?”
Before overviewing the holiday cycle during the month of Tishrei, it is important to understand that the Jewish holidays are not a celebration of specific historic events that an isolated group of people experienced, which is irrelevant to humanity and its further evolutionary development.
What are the Jewish holidays? They are spiritual states, i.e., omnipresent varying levels of our equivalence of form with nature’s form of love and bestowal, which we attain through our spiritual progress toward greater and greater states of unity among each other and with nature.
With that in mind, we can discuss the Tishrei holiday cycle as a series of spiritual states, i.e., introspections, conclusions, decisions and inner actions that we perform as we progress from the sensation of our reality locked within our egoistic desires—where we wish to enjoy ourselves for self-benefit alone—to the spiritual reality—where we wish to benefit others and nature, immensely expanding our sensation of reality.
Leading up to the Tishrei holidays is the month of Elul, which ends with the period of repentance, Selichot, where we reach the conclusion that our egoistic approach to life drives us to a state of helplessness and despair.
The introspection from the states of Selichot leads us to the first day of Tishrei, Rosh Hashanah, which means the beginning (“Rosh”) of change (“Shana” [year] from the word “Shinui” [change]). That is, we reach the decision that we want to change our egoistic attitude to life with a new attitude that does not oppose and resist nature—as we do when we remain in our inborn egoistic desires—but which is in balance with nature, i.e., in balance with an attitude of love, bestowal and connection.
After making the decision to change our egoism into altruism that characterizes Rosh Hashanah, we soon arrive at the realization that we cannot make that change on our own. This state is called “Yom Kippur” (“The Day of Atonement”).
The self-examination that takes place during the state of Yom Kippur, which reveals to us the true extent of our egoistic and altruistic intentions, brings us to a new discernment: that there is a single solution to this problem: to raise the importance of benefiting others and nature over the importance in doing so for ourselves. At such a juncture, we then proceed to activate our intention to benefit others and disengage from our egoistic desires. This shift in importance—bestowal over reception; altruism over egoism; unity over division—is the essence of Sukkot.
The Tishrei holiday cycle draws to its conclusion with Simchat Torah, the eighth and last day of Sukkot. On this holiday, we rejoice in the unified state that we acquire, which nature’s force of love and bestowal reveals to us. In other words, on Simchat Torah, we rejoice in correctly realizing the method of connection, called “Torah,” from the word “Hora’a” (“instruction”), and that we corrected our opposition to nature’s altruistic form into equivalence and balance with nature.
The attainment of equivalence of form with nature—a unified state among each other and with nature through an intention to love and bestow that is similar to the force of nature itself—is the final destination to which humanity evolves. Accordingly, the Tishrei holiday cycle represents the various states of spiritual progress from our current egoistic state, through to the opposite altruistic state of love and bestowal that is similar to nature’s force of love and bestowal, the force that created and sustains reality.