For years I looked at the Hebrew letters that formed the abbreviation for the dawning year. Each letter carries with it its own mystical meaning. I often began each Rosh Hoshannah service with a small “drash” on what the letters foretold for the year ahead. Since you are my current “congregation”, I wanted to look again at the letters that formed the 76 for the year 5776. As usual, the meaning behind the letters is quite profound, timely and mystical.
Seventy in Hebrew is symbolized by the letter “ayin”. This letter forms the beginning of the Hebrew word for eye, and thus we can glean that we may be entering a year that can provide for us perception and insight. What we “see” and how we “see” often determines how we act. As with the story in Genesis 3 of Adam and Eve, it is not until we “see” something, or are made aware of something, that we can begin to grow or change. Often, as with Moses and the bush, we do not “see” what is in plain sight. Likewise, we are told in our mystical tradition that there are 70 names of God thus, commentators tell us that this “ayin” can stand for the idea that as we “see”, we are–especially as we age–more open to spiritual awareness and growth.
The “Hebrew for 6 is the letter “vov”. For those who know a little Hebrew, you know that this letter, in Biblical Hebrew, can change tenses and meanings. It is a letter that signifies change and transition. It is often translated as “and”, implying movement.
So, we can put these two interpretations (and there are many more) together to get a sense of meaning for us for this new year. What are the letters telling us? That this new year of 5776, for us, can be a year of evolving insight, a greater awareness of the spiritual in our life and a year that, if we but allow ourself to “see”, a year of growth and transition. All of us Boomers are more and more aware of our own changes and transitions. Our body, our life situations, our family, etc. The letters tell us that we are open to a new year of spiritual awareness, insight, growth and transition. If we only are able to open our eyes to see it. Not a bad forecast.
Have a sweet, happy, peaceful and healthy 5776.
Shalom. Shannah Tovah
Rabbi Richard F Address