Photo Credit: Jewish Press

Each year the Rebbe would issue a letter to the “Sons and Daughters of Our People Israel, Everywhere,” in preparation for the New Year. Below we bring you one such message, in free translation, for a year whose beginning was Shabbos, like this year, 5784 (2023).



By the Grace of G-d
Chai (18th) Elul, 5732
Brooklyn, New York

To the Sons and Daughters of
Our People Israel, Everywhere,
G-d bless you all!

Greeting and Blessing:

…Particularly unique is a Rosh Hashana, compared with the majority of Rosh Hashanas, when it coincides with Shabbos, that is, when the first day of Rosh Hashana occurs on Shabbos, as this year. In this event, the holiness of Rosh Hashana becomes one with the holiness of Shabbos, giving this Rosh Hashana a new dimension and content, which – in view of Rosh Hashana being the “head” of the year, must influence the daily life throughout the year.

The general difference between the weekdays and Shabbos, particularly insofar as man is concerned, is that the weekdays are work days (Six days shalt thou labor and do all thy work), whereas Shabbos is a day of abstention from work (thou shalt do no work), a day of rest.

At first glance this leads to an anomaly: From birth a man’s destiny is linked to work, as the Torah declares, A man to toil is born (with intervals of rest, sleep, etc., in order to recuperate for further toil). Yet, when Rosh Hashana occurs on Shabbos, its emphasis – as “head” of the year, setting the tone and pace for each and all the days of the year – would be on the idea of abstention from work. How is this to be reconciled with the principle of “man to toil is born?”

One of the explanations, which removes the contradiction, is as follows: А human being is a composite of a variety of things and qualities – broadly speaking, he consists of body and soul. Consequently, all his affairs and activities likewise contain the elements of “body” and “soul,” or, in other words, the material and spiritual. It follows that also in the human destiny of man is born to toil both elements are present, namely, physical toil and spiritual toil, or, as our Sages of blessed memory express it: the toil of work and the toil of Torah. More specifically: The material-spiritual composition is to be found in both kinds of toil: In the “toil of work” (as also in the “toil of Torah”) there is the physical as well as the spiritual toil, for in each of them there is a spiritual side and a material side.

On Shabbos a Jew fulfills his destiny of a “man to toil is born” by dedicating the day to the “toil of Torah.” In this sense, Rosh Hashana that occurs on Shabbos conveys also the message that in all the coming days of this year, a special emphasis should be put on the “toil of Torah (and mitzvos)” and that also in the realm of “toil of work” (mundane affairs) one should bring out and accentuate the spiritual side of it.

By way of a simple illustration: А person holding a job or engaged in business, and the like, is generally motivated by the income and desire to earn a living. Yet the underlying spiritual aspect, the “soul” of these mundane affairs, must be the recognition that “all your actions should be for the sake of Heaven.” Instead of being motivated solely or mainly by material gain, a Jew should be motivated by higher incentives: to be able to give tzedaka (charity) generously, to be able to study the Torah without worry about parnassa (livelihood), to be able to pay tuition for the children’s Torah education, and so forth. And it is to attain these higher goals in life that he engages in the “toil of work.”

To repeat and in other words: It is expected of every Jew, man or woman, young or old, that he (or she) bring in “Shabbosdikeit” (the spirit of Shаbbos) into all his toil, including also the mundane activities; to bring in Spirituality and holiness also in the ordinary and mundane activities of the daily life, until they are thoroughly permeated with the spirit of Shabbos.

And when а person is permeated with spiritual motivations, his toil will obviously not interfere with his learning Torah, the fulfillment of а mitzvah, giving tzedaka generously and wholeheartedly, and so forth.

Should the question be asked: How can everyone attain such a high level, and maintain it consistently each and every day of the year? The answer is simple, and everyone can understand it: Inasmuch as G-d, the Creator of man, set this guideline for each and every Jew, it is certain that everyone, regardless of upbringing and station, has been provided with the capacity to carry it out in actual life, and indeed, to do so with joy and gladness of heart.

And so we say with Dovid: “(Because) On Thee, O G-d, I rely – (it is certain that) I will not ever be put to shame.”

All the more so, since this trust and this commitment derive from Rosh Hashana, when Jews celebrate the “Coronation” of G-d, and willingly accept His Kingship. Moreover, “The King’s servant is (also) royalty,” and on Rosh Hashana every Jew becomes the King’s servant anew.

With the blessing of Kesiva vaChasima Tova for a good and sweet year –

/signed: Menachem Schneerson/

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Rabbi Shmuel M. Butman is director of the Lubavitch Youth Organization. He can be reached at [email protected].