What’s really called “living”? Is it “living” or LIVING”? I’ve recently noticed an interesting connection between the two new years most celebrated around me: the Jewish New Year, Rosh Hashana, and the secular one, January 1st.
Although there are other legitimate views, it has become fairly popular among Orthodox Jews to accept that Adam’s birthday was on Rosh Hashana. (Parenthetically, the other view is that Adam’s birthday would be on the 1st of Nissan - i.e. the 1st new moon of spring.)
The claim that Adam’s birthday is on Rosh Hashana can find support in the Talmudic story about the days gradually getting shorter and colder right after Adam was exiled from the Garden of Eden. Not knowing yet about the seasons, he thought that this was the fulfillment of what he was warned that on the day he ate the forbidden fruit, he would pass away. As the autumn/winter season progressed, Adams reasoned that pretty soon the planet won’t be able to sustain life. In response, on the shortest day of the year late December, he and Eve fasted and prayed.
About eight days later, January 1st, the days grew noticeably longer. Realizing that light was returning, he celebrated “LIFE” and set it as a future date of celebration for himself and his descendants after him, including us. So from Rosh Hashana to January 1st, he felt like he was “living”, i.e. he was a biological entity. However, on January 1st, he first felt like he was “LIVING”! What a difference! Until January 1st, he was psychologically tortured with deep seated concern over the demise of all biological life.
Being so psychologically tortured can barely be called living. It’s simply dismally dragging along. However, on January 1st, he was blessed by the Creator with a revelation of happiness and celebration. He was taught that his own life and the life of all the creatures around him will continue on. Now he was really alive, as it states by Jacob upon learning that his precious son Joseph was alive and well, “And the spirit of Jacob came alive!” Now Adam was truly alive for the very first time.
So in a sense, January 1st is the real beginning of Adam’s life; his true birthday! Rosh Hashana was his biological birthday, but, January 1st was his psychological birthday. Our perception of life, more than anything else, is what makes us feel alive. Let’s celebrate!