I will never forget what happened that night. After going to hundreds of lectures, and giving quite a few myself, I thought I’d seen it all. But I had never seen anything quite like this.

As we begin the new Torah cycle, let’s take a moment to contemplate the deeper purpose of Torah. Some may refer to the Torah as a history book; others may think of it as a book of law or a source of Jewish wisdom. While these are all true, they only scratch the surface of the Torah’s true nature. Torah is not simply a guide to living a life of truth within this world; it is the blueprint and DNA of the world itself. Our physical world is a projection and emanation of the deep spiritual reality described in the Torah. This is the meaning behind the famous midrash, “Istakel b’Oraisa u’vara alma – [Hashem] looked into the Torah and used it to create the world.” (B’reishis Rabbah 1:1). Torah is the spiritual root of existence; the physical world is its expression.

Genuine t’shuvah is not just about self-transformation; it’s about self-expression, returning to your true and higher self. As we have previously explained, there are three stages of genuine t’shuvah:

The first is individual t’shuvah, where we return to our higher selves, our fetal selves, our true selves.

It is an eis tzarah l’Yaakov. The murderous barbaric attacks on Acheinu Bnei Yisrael in Eretz Yisrael have cast a pall of mourning upon Jews all over the world. As maaminim bnei maaminim we know that we who are not fighting at the front must do our part in this milchama. We know that Hashem is the ish milchama and the way to invoke rachamei shomayim is through Torah and tefilla. Whether it is taking on a new kabbalah to join the new worldwide Amud HaYomi program that begins on Rosh Chodesh Cheshvan or to increase Torah learning in any other meaningful way, that is the response that is needed for Klal Yisrael. All Torah learning brings down a shefa of rachamei shomayim and indeed, on Motzoei Simchas Torah, the venerated senior posek, HaGaon HaRav Moshe Sternbuch, shlita, called on all yidden to increase their Torah learning.

The birth of a new year is a time of reflection and resolution, a time when hope and inspiration fill the air. We dream about what this upcoming year holds in store, how we can make the rest of our life the best of our life. We all have ideas, ambitions, and aspirations that we yearn to bring to fruition, and the new year gives us “permission” to revisit these goals and breathe new life into them. For a brief moment, everything is crystal clear; we see our purpose and our path with vivid clarity. However, there is an underlying frustration that accompanies this time period, as well. If we reflect honestly, we often realize that our new year’s resolutions are awfully similar to those of last year, and the year before, and the year before…