The first day of the Jewish New Year begins this year on September 29th. According to conventional wisdom, this is the day Jews around the world celebrate the creation of the world. But that is not correct, for Jewish tradition teaches that Creation actually began five days earlier. What we celebrate on the Jewish New Year itself is the final act of the Creative process—Man. As we Jews mark our calendar, Creation began five days earlier on the 25th day of the Jewish month Elul; and this year, that date falls on Saturday, September 24th. The Jewish New Year is solemn and serious, for as we celebrate G-d’s creating Man, He begins to judge the entire world all over again. In our tradition, G-d’s Judgment and His Creation are linked, and once we learn that His Creation began on Elul 25, we immediately understand that the day before there was nothing—just void and darkness. The day before Creation is Elul 24, a day characterized by the absolute absence of G-dly Light. This year, the 24th day of the Jewish month of Elul is September 23.
You can read all about it in the Jewish liturgy for the New Year celebration. For an enhanced experience, purchase a good commentary for the poetry you will encounter and to understand the connections between Creation, G-dly Judgment and the three weeks of Judgment that begin September 29 and end on October 19, a day called Hoshanna Rabbah. it will be a good investment and, possibly, an excellent overview for both the Jewish High Holy Day(s) process and the unfolding drama at the United Nations.
That’s right—the UN—because, you see, Jews do not believe in coincidence. We believe, for example, that it may not be accidental that the drama at the UN over Jewish land has begun on the Jewish Elul 24, that day before Creation long ago when all was empty and spiritually dark-- an incredibly inauspicious day, if ever there was one. The Jewish day Elul 24 corresponds this year to Friday, September 23, the exact day that Mahmoud Abbas spoke to the UN with dark distortions and unG-dly falsehoods. Coincidence?
While many see the events unfolding at the UN as a step towards peace, many also see it as a dark day for the world because it represents a formal and world-wide attempt to strip Jewish land away from Jews. Think about the arrogance of it all: the Arab currently holds more than 99.5% of real estate in the Middle East. The Jew holds practically nothing. The Arab says there is no Jewish case for a Jewish homeland. The Jew deserves nothing. The Arab must have more land, the Jew must give it to him and the UN must approve. Do you see the timing here? As the world prepares to stand up against G-d’s beloved nation, G-d prepares His annual accounting of the entire world. Coincidence?
Many feel that an Arab attempt to grab land out from under the Jew is unconscionable, given the regional real estate context and the religious, historical and archaeological record in Israel. Does Abbas’ UN speech occurring on this day mean that he is asking the world to embrace a spiritual and moral darkness? Do I mean to suggest a connection between Creation of the Universe and the UN’s taking a first step towards the possible ‘uncreation’ of the Jewish state? Do I suggest that UN action against Israel at this time of year will not be good for the nations of the world because G-d is in His ‘Judgment Mode’? I am not qualified to answer these questions. I can only wonder at the apparent ‘coincidence’ of these events coming together at exactly the same time.
UN discussions over Israel began last week. We will watch the UN—and world-wide fallout from their activities—for at least the next three weeks. The world will consider the fate of the Jewish state just as our G-d considers the fate of both Jews and the world, during a parallel time-period—from (this year) September 29 to October 19. For G-d, the fate of the Jewish people (and the world) is a serious issue. He will not analyze and judge on the same day. The same appears true for the world; their deliberations, too, will not all be completed in a single day. The world judges Israel at the same time G-d judges Israel and the world. Coincidence?
Why is this important? Our heritage teaches that those who desecrate the name of Israel desecrate the name of G-d, which means that those who will be the enemy of Israel are the enemy of G-d. To the religious Jew, how we act during our three-week period of Judgment can determine how we are judged. So as the UN deliberates—or prevaricates-- we will see how the nations of the world act towards Israel and towards the enemies of Israel. We will see how citizens of the world, and the world’s media, act. Already, for example, we have heard French President Sarkozy say, “We cannot respond to [the] aspiration for freedom and democracy..so spendidly and bravely expressed by the Arab peoples [during the ‘Arab Spring’] by perpetuating a tragedy, that of the Israel-Palestine conflict” (Neil MacFarquhar, ‘Palestine bid upstages Arab Spring at UN’, New York Times, September 23, 2011). How, indeed, will the world act during this time of Judgment—and how will G-d Judge those actions?
Will Heaven and Earth speak?
Jews believe that G-d watches, counts and measures how the nations speak of Israel and Jerusalem, for our tradition teaches that G-d is zealous for His beloved; G-d is not silent for Zion. How will the nations of the world speak of Israel? How will the peoples of the world look upon G-d’s Jerusalem?
We will soon find out.