Reb Shlomo Carlebach on Rosh Hashana: All of Me
This Shabbos we read ‘Atem Nitzavim Hayom Kulchem’, you are standing before G-d, all of you. Then we read about all the ten kinds of yiddelach that are there.
Everybody knows that on Rosh Hashonna you are standing before G-d, but the question is on what level? We are not being counted on the level of details, we are being counted on the level of all. Every person is the combination of two things. Let’s take a girl who is very beautiful, her eyes and ears are beautiful, but this is all details. But then there is something else, the all a person is. There might be a person who is very talented in Mathematics but sometimes the all is not talented. A lot of big scientists are talented in everything but the all in them is stupid. Then there is a person who is not only talented in every detail, but the all is talented and the all is beautiful. There are a lot of yiddelach who are Jewish in every detail but the all of them is without religion, the all of them. And then there are people who maybe their details are not so religious, but the all of them is so beautiful. So in a nutshell, on Yom Kippur we are standing before G-d on the level of details because on Yom Kippur I confess every detail I did wrong, but on Rosh Hashonna I am standing before G-d on the level of my all.
I want to share something very deep with you, which may not be clear till the end so just bear with me. Imagine I walk on the street and I see a poor man and all I have on me is a dollar. So I’m thinking to myself ‘should I give him just half a dollar and leave half a dollar for myself or should I give him all I have?’ Something happens to me and I feel very high and I give him all I have, but where is this coming from? It comes from the all of me. My all of me gives all to the poor man, but it’s not really all there is. No person has more than all they have. But imagine if there would be such a thing that not only the all of me, but the all of my world. You know what G-d does? The Master of the World is giving you not only the all of me but the whole world. There is such a thing, mamesh all there is.
And just bear with me, it will become clearer to you. There is such a thing which has to do with after I’m born, after I’m already in this word, and there are certain things which touch my very being in this world. These things touch my being born, my coming into this world. For instance, I can connect to a person on two levels, I can love a person on two levels. I’m already in this world and I know you so I love you. But then there is something much deeper. Sometimes I can love a person so much that it touches my very being in this world. Imagine a china man, he is connected to Peking and a yidele is connected to Yerushalayim. I’m sure that the all off the China Man is connected to Peking but this is the kind of all which is after I am created. After he is already created as a China man he is connected to Peking. If he cannot be in Peking so he lives in New York he forgets about Peking. For a yidele, Yerushalayim is not connected to me after my creation, this touches the very foundation of my creation. If not Yerushalayim I can’t have something else, cannot exchange it.
Let me make it clearer. I want you to know something else, the more outside it is the more the little bit is also meaningful. Imagine I’ll make a deal with Coca Cola. I would like to sell you ten thousand bottles of Coca Cola. My friend tells me ‘well, my soul is not that big, I cannot use ten thousand bottles but I would be glad to buy a thousand from you’. Imagine I walk up to a girl and I say ‘I want to marry you’ and she says ‘well, I cannot marry you but I can be your secretary’. Or she will tell you ‘I cannot marry you for a lifetime but for a weekend I can’, it’s sweet but it just doesn’t go. Anything that comes from the outside – then a little bit is also good. If I am very hungry and I walk into this restaurant and I ask for five steaks and ten hamburgers and they tell me ‘listen brother, we are just closing up. All I can give you is a leftover donut’. Since I am so hungry I will take that because it’s outside of me. Now listen to this, on a physical level. The more outside it is in the body it doesn’t have to be complete. It should be complete but if it’s not, it is possible. G-d forbid, we should have all our feet but if one foot is missing I can still live. If someone might say ‘I’m going to cut off half of my heart G-d forbid, so I’m living on half’, it just doesn’t go because the heart is the inside of my inside and the inside of my inside has to be complete.
Let me tell you something. I am giving a speech on Maoism and I’m speaking to the China folks and they don’t understand exactly what I say because maybe I am speaking in Hebrew. In the meantime I am telling them that it doesn’t matter, they understood a little bit, it served its purpose. Imagine I am going to a girl and I want to propose to her and I say three words to her, I love you. And she says ‘I didn’t hear the two last words’ it just doesn’t go. When it comes to the deepest depths of life, when it comes to the real things – unless it’s complete it’s not there.
There are people who want to give you a lot and you only want to take a little and it’s okay. But there are people who are that close to me and I want to give them so much and they only want to take a little…
So just in a nutshell listen to this. You know how much life G-d wants to give us all year long? The flow from heaven is so deep, you can only take a little bit but it’s okay. On Rosh Hashonna, the day of the creation of the world, our closeness to G-d is so awesome that unless we take the whole thing – it just doesn’t go. Rosh Hashonna, the day when G-d created the world is such a deep day, mamesh the deepest depths there is. All of me has to be ready to take all of G-d, mamesh all of it. In order to live all year long I should do tshuvah, I don’t have to be that good and I don’t have to cleanse myself that much. So I don’t take the whole thing, I take a little bit and I will manage. I don’t keep all of Shabbos, I keep Friday night. I don’t keep Friday night, I keep a little bit. Rosh Hashonna is one day which is so deep, it has to be all… it has to be all.
Thanks to the Holiest of Holy Reb Moshe Stepansky for this post.