HEADLINE NEWS | Shabbat Shalom and Shana Tova!

Friday, 15 September, 2023 - 2:56 am

Frank Rubio.jpeg

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By the Grace of G-d

Dear Friend,

First things first.

Nechama and I wish you a Ketiva Vechatima Tova – to be written and sealed for a Shana Tova, a good and sweet year.

What does that include?

It’s a blank check.

Only you know what you are hoping and praying for.

Perhaps that is why traditionally we leave the new year blessings simple. This way they are all inclusive. Even the most comprehensive blessing in the world may leave something out that is important to you.

So we will make it simple and extremely broad.

May Hashem bless you with everything you need to make your year good and sweet.

כתיבה וחתימה טובה – לשנה טובה ומתוקה


Dear Friend,

Two news headlines jumped out at me. One from way up in ‘heaven’ and one from deep down in ‘earth’.

On September 11 2023, NASA astronaut Frank Rubio broke the record for the longest journey in space by an American, at 355 consecutive days.

When Frank Rubio left for the space station aboard a Russian Soyuz capsule on Sept. 21, 2022, he and his crewmates believed they were carrying out a six-month mission…. While their capsule was docked at the ISS, it developed a coolant leak. In January, NASA announced that the compromised spacecraft would not be used for a normal crew return and would only carry people from the space station in the case of an emergency. It returned to Earth with no passengers on March 28 .

When Rubio returns to Earth with his crewmates on September 27, the length of his journey will have stretched to 371 days.

For us Jews those dates jump out, as they are quite significant. Frank went up to space on the 25th Elul corresponding to the day that the world was created. The sixth day of creation is Rosh Hashana – the day of creation of man.

He will come down, please G-d may all go well and safely for him and his mates, two days after Yom Kippur.

He gets to spend two Rosh Hashana’s and Yom Kippur’s up in space.

And we are told about it in the news. Gotta be a High Holiday message there for us.

That was the ‘heavenly’ news. Now listen to this ‘earthly’ news.

Headline news from deep down in the tunnels of the earth.

On Monday evening—nine days after the call for help was issued—American caver Mark Dickey, who fell seriously ill 3,400 feet deep inside a cave in Turkey, was successfully rescued. It was one of the most difficult and complex cave rescue missions ever executed, according to veteran rescuers involved in the effort.

Dickey suffered sudden gastrointestinal bleeding, and his condition appeared life-threatening. It took an international team of 200 rescuers—volunteers from nine different countries—eight days to pull off the entire mission. Transporting Dickey to the surface, the most complex part of the rescue, was executed by 90 people and took just over two days.

A story that came to a blessedly safe ending on September 11, 2023, corresponding to the 25th of Elul the day of the creation of the world.

The Rebbe would repeatedly quote the saying of the Ba’al Shemtov that ‘from everything a person hears and sees, he is to derive a message which enhances the way he serves Hashem’. When wearing those ‘glasses’ one knows that there must be a timely message here.

The message is so refreshingly obvious.

But first the elephant in the room that nobody would think of asking vocally.

How much money did the cave rescue cost? How many man hours? How much was the cost of the resources used? Can you even imagine how much it would add up to?

What about supporting an astronaut for a year in space? What kind of budget are we talking about?

For the astronaut there are some figures online. Google gives me this:

According to a 2022 report, it costs NASA an average of $58.7 million to send one astronaut into space for a year. 

Is it ‘worth’ spending so much money on saving one person?

How much is a person worth?

Let us start with the first man on earth, Adam and figure things out from there.

Rosh Hashana is the day of creation of man. The details surrounding his creation thus become one of the main themes of Rosh Hashana.

One of the major differences between the way Adam was created and the way all the other creatures were created is this:

All of the other creatures were created in multitudes. When HaShem created bees, he created thousands, perhaps millions, of bees. When HaShem created trees, it wasn’t just one little tree; immediately there were forests. Everything was created in big numbers. Like the stars: Hundreds of thousands… perhaps millions — we don’t even know how many.

However, there was one creation that was created alone — man. He wasn’t even created as a couple, just one. Why did HaShem create man as only one? He could have created a nation, thousands — let Adam have some company, some friends; it’s lonely being the only one. However, he was created all alone. Solitary. Why?

This is something that is vital for us to know. The fact the HaShem created man alone, means that every man and every woman is extremely important to Him. We should never suffer from feelings of inferiority nor feel, “Oh, I’m just one more cog in the wheel, one more flower on the wall; of what importance am I? I’m just one of several billion, or, as a Jew, one of several million.” We should not, G‑d forbid, think that; it is an incorrect attitude. We should know that the world started with one man. 

HaShem made this entire universe for one person!

The same thing applies today to each and every single Jew. Our Sages declare that a person should say, “The world was created for me!” Of course, this does not mean that the Sages encourage egocentricity. On the contrary, a Jew is the purpose of creation because he brings a revelation of G‑d into the world through his Torah and mitzvos — which is the purpose of creation. Thus, when a Jew says, “The world was created for me,” he means that he recognizes his obligation to reveal G‑dliness in the world — “The world was created for me to reveal G‑dliness in it.” Accordingly, each person has infinite importance to HaShem, for all of creation is there for his sake!

From this we see that we should never play ourselves down. We are important, very important, in HaShem ’s scheme of things, for we have a great mission to live up to. We should have great self-esteem as a result.

Psychologists say that the most important thing parents can do for young children, is to instill in them a feeling of self-worth and self-esteem. If a person does not have a feeling of importance, he cannot go through life productively; he has to know he is great and he is important, and has tremendous potential. That is the reason that man was created alone.

On Rosh HaShanah, when we stand before HaShem in judgment, we must realize that we were created for a specific reason — each of us has our own individual mission. And it isn’t important what’s going on with everybody else. They could be living the wrong way; we have to live the right way, because every single one of us is unique and important.

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How much is a person worth?

Starting from the creation of Adam the first human, every person is like a complete world.

Now that is a very big price tag. None of us would want to squander away such an unimaginable amount.

It gives a very empowering push for all of us to utilize our lives in the best way possible. And to try our best and hardest to help others who need our help. For they too are a complete world.

Of course, these two stories fits this week’s Parsha as well. (Albeit we won’t read it till next Shabbat, this week we will read the Rosh Hashana readings) the verse states:  

Listen, O heaven, and I will speak. Hear, O earth, the words of my mouth.

Incredibly, this week Hashem injected the message about the centrality and absolute importance of each and every one of us into the news headlines of Heaven and Earth. Perfect ‘coordination’ with the weekly Parsha.

Two news headlines.

On from heaven. One from earth.

When you ‘listen’ and ‘hear’ them you get a very powerful reminder that is so pertinent on Rosh Hashana.

You are important to G-d. G-d created you and chose to ‘need you’, and ‘is relying on you’ to fulfil something unique that only you can carry out.

You are no less important than that astronaut, nor that caver.

You are the irreplaceable you.

To do that which only you can do.

With blessings of

Shana Tova, Shabbat Shalom, Chag Sameach

Rabbi Yosef Kantor

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