You Are The World

By Rabbi Mendel Matusof

There are many Jewish holidays celebrating the many aspects of our Jewish peoplehood. Our exodus from Egypt, receiving the Torah, traveling the desert, and being spared from our antisemitic enemies, to name a few.

Rosh Hashanah is the exception. Rosh Hashanah is a celebration with a global theme. Quite literally, we celebrate G-d’s creation of the universe with everything and everyone in it.

I would like to suggest that all too often, we get too carried away with its global significance. We have all been to a High Holiday service where the sermon is focused on global affairs as if it were an audition for public office. We’ve sat around a Rosh Hashanah dinner reflecting on the myriad social and political problems we have faced in the previous year. These addresses and conversations are important, but I believe that by doing so, we squander a great opportunity for actual substantive change.

Because, while Rosh Hashanah is focused on the universe, the universe G-d created had but one couple, Adam and Chava (Eve). Adam and Chava understood that they are the world. So should we.

As we reflect on the previous year, we see a terribly divided Jewish society in Israel. We need to pray and work for healing, but that begins with us. Have we eradicated all divide from within our own community? The world needs healing, but first and foremost, we are the world.

We see a political environment, especially in Wisconsin, where alternate perspectives are shut down and erased. We need to pray and work for more peaceful dialogue, but that begins with us. How tolerant are we with perspectives which we strongly disagree with? The world needs healing, but first and foremost, we are the world.

We see a society seemingly adrift without moral values upholding it. We need to pray and educate for a better and more ethical world, but it begins with us. Do we study and then live up to our Jewish values of 3000+ years? The world needs healing, but first and foremost, we are the world.

This Rosh Hashanah, let’s remember G-d created the world. You are the world. The world needs more kindness; give more charity every day. The world needs more peace; work on peaceful relations in your family and between those around you. The world needs more love; love those who you might instinctively dislike because of disagreement or difference. The world needs more perspective; study Torah which provided our ancestors with perspective for millennia.

This Rosh Hashanah, commit yourself to making the world a bit brighter by committing yourself to a Mitzvah. Something which will make your 5784 more bright and more Jewish. Because you are the world.

Rabbi Mendel Matusof was born and raised in Madison and received his training in France, Canada, Israel, and New York. In 2005, he and his wife Henya moved back to Madison to direct the Chabad activities on the UW campus. Under his leadership, a new Chabad house on campus was established, Chabad at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, serving the campus's thousands of students.

Disclaimer: The From Our Rabbis feature seeks to provide a platform representing the diversity of our community clergy. The views, information, or opinions expressed in the From Our Rabbis articles are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent those of the Jewish Federation of Madison.