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
Rabbi Richard F. Address, D.Min, is the Founder and Director of www.jewishsacredaging.com. Rabbi Address served for over three decades on staff of the Union for Reform Judaism; first as a Regional Director and then, beginning in 1997, as Founder and Director of the URJ’s Department of Jewish Family Concerns and served as a specialist and consultant for the North American Reform Movement in the areas of family related programming. Rabbi Address was ordained from Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in 1972 and began his rabbinic career in Los Angeles congregations. He also served as a part time rabbi for Beth Hillel in Carmel, NJ while regional director and, after his URJ tenure, served as senior rabbi of Congregation M’kor Shalom in Cherry Hill, NJ from 2011-2014.