Shannah Tovah. Our tradition, as you know loves to play with the letters of Hebrew and the numerical equivalents for those letters. No better time to play with this than now, as we greet the year 5777. Can we receive a message for this coming year from these numbers? Look at the Hebrew letter for 70, which is “ayin” and the letter for 7, which is “zayin”.
The “ayin” can represent easily the word for eye. Adam and Eve gained an awareness of their own presence, and mortality, as they, in Genesis 3, “saw” that they were naked in the Garden. The eyes, windows to the soul, allow us to see the world. Indeed, in Genesis 22, which we read on Rosh Hoshonnah, Abraham, as he was about to slay Isaac, was stopped by God’s call and “saw” the ram. Do we sometimes not see the truths that are in plain sight? Moses “saw” the burning bush in order to hear God’s voice. What do we choose to see, and with what kind of eye?
The “zayin”, standing for the number 7, contains a special aspect of Jewish thought, for 7 is a special number, as you know, standing for creation. Seven days for creation and thus, this letter contains within it that sense of creation and the celebration of creation.
So we can combine these two letters to make the number 77 and with it a lesson for each us to take in to the new year. May it be a year that we see the creative potential in life. May it be a year in which we see the possibilities for growth and evolution on a personal level. May we be able to see what is possible in us and each human being if we just look up and see what the world has to offer us and how we, despite being tested in life–as we all are–can see in the year ahead the opportunities to realize what we hope for, wish for and even dream for. How we choose to see the world, what we choose to create in our life, and how we choose to embrace this new opportunity for self growth, those choices determine the type of person we will be in this newly dawning year of 5777.
May you and your family come to see a year of fulfillment, growth, creativity, joy, peace and health.
Rabbi Richard F Address, D.Min.
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.