We Jews are ancient, expert travelers in time.  We are given special times, from our holy
Torah and wise Sages, in which we can help mend, renovate and elevate the
entire creation. The whole month of Elul along with the first twenty two days
of the month of Tishrei are a case in point. To the rest  of the nations these days are merely times on
a calendar that hangs  on a wall,
destined  to be marked off and discarded.
For us, these sanctified days are our “time machine” that transports us to new
levels of holiness (kiddusha). If we program this “time-craft” of opportunity carefully
according to the laws (halachas) and  customs (minhagim), fill it with the fuel of
enthusiasm and adjust our trajectory by keeping our proper spiritual focus, we
can strive to reach into the “stratosphere” of kiddusha undeterred by the pull
of  the atmosphere around us.

minus 30 Days

ALL CHODESH ELUL : Take on board sefarim on Musar
and Chassidus to inspire thoughts of teshuvah. Sefardim begin saying Slichos
and blowing the shofar, Ashkenazim blowing the shofar and many are reciting additional
Tehilim. We now have a unique opportunity to prepare for our new journey:  (The space shuttle is launched in two
stages.  At liftoff, it uses boosters and
main engines


T minus (minimally) 4 days: (Main engines ignite in staggered intervals.)  Ashkenazim begin to say Slichos the Motzei
Shabbos before Rosh Hashanah which can fall no less than four days before Rosh Hashanah
in order to allow for final countdown preparations. A small reminder of the
power of these days:  {These engines
provide 1.2 million pounds of thrust and the boosters provide 6,600,000 pounds
of thrust.} 


T minus I day:   (Main engines commanded to lift off position.)

EREV ROSH HASHANAH.  It seems that there could not possibly be
sufficient time to achieve what needs to be accomplished before we set
off.  However, through various minhagim and
halacot such as:  hataras nedarim,
fasting until chatzos, toveling in the mikvah and other Yom Tov preparations culminating
in halacot narot, we are then able to reach the necessary level of energy and
preparedness for our holy mission. Erev Rosh Hashanah is the last moment before
take-off :{In order to attain orbit, 
the space craft has to accelerate 
from zero to eighteen thousand miles per hour and travel at an altitude
higher than most of the Earth’s atmosphere.}


T minus 0 seconds: Rosh Hashanah seen as the lift off for the New Year :       (
Onboard computers ignite solid rocket boosters; three main engines at 100 per
cent thrust level. Ground launch sequence terminated, lift off.) 

All of the external preparations – the Yom Tov clothing, the festive
meals and the internal preparations of introspection, learning halachas, making
resolutions- are done, and here we are. 
We lift up our machzorim and feel the weight of the awesome and
spectacular task that lies ahead of us.

Rosh Hashanah, the – rosh – head, is truly the
beginning of the new year, setting the trajectory which in turn sets the course
for the whole year.  Using delicate
instruments consisting of  halachot and
minhagim, it fine tunes the three essential dimensions of  person-nefesh, place-makom and time-z’man.

The first tikun in the dimension of nefesh is when
upon concluding our tefillos on Rosh Hashanah eve we greet and bless our
friends and families with the wish that they be inscribed for a good year. 

The tikun achieved for the dimension of time—z’man
is through the sounds of the shofar.  The
sounds of the shofar are halachically regulated by the length and number of the
notes which help to rectify the dimension of time. These holy customs and laws
are infinitely more powerful than the following moshal: {At lift off the
shuttle with its boosters and fuel weighs 4.5 million pounds and takes eight
seconds to accelerate to a speed of one hundred miles per hour.  After one minute,  the craft is traveling at 1,000 miles per
hour and has used more than one and one half million –pounds of fuel.}


T plus 2 days: Solid
rocket boosters separate

ASERES YIMAI TESHUVA: Rosh Hashanah with its
stirring tefillos,  awe inspiring melodies
and soul searching shofar blasts proclaims Hashem’s Kingship. Now it is the
fast day – Tzom Gedalia, the third day of the ten days of repentance. Even
during the fast we are still continuing to ascend:  {When it reaches an altitude of twenty
eight miles, and is traveling at 3,000 miles per hour, it jettisons its


T plus 9 days:  (The three main engines continue to fire.)

EREV YOM KIPPUR. Sometimes we feel distant from
the process, as if the judgment is going to happen to someone else, but as Erev
Yom Kippur arrives we all become very involved, feeling the day of awe and hope
is soon to be with us. This dichotomy within us also exists in the creation:  {The engines burn liquid hydrogen – which at
 minus 423 degrees Fahrenheit is the
second coldest liquid on earth – with liquid oxygen. When they unite and burn the
mixture can reach a temperature of 6,000 degrees Fahrenheit – higher then the
boiling point of iron.}


T plus 10 days:  Space Craft  attains preliminary orbit.

 We are now shaping the path and
direction of the coming Year. We are accelerating very quickly because we must break
out of the physical atmosphere and move into a very unique spiritual zone.

To do this we need let go of those habits and
thoughts that have weighed us down and taken their toll upon us in the past year.
This is a critical moment, allowing for our final stage of being freed from the
past:  {After that period of time, the
space craft, in an ovoid (oblong) orbit, reaches a speed of five miles per
second.  The engines shut down, the
external fuel tank is jettisoned and the shuttle will have consumed more than
3.5 million pounds of fuel

       T minus 14 days:  (Orbital maneuvering system engines are

 SUKKOS.  We now are dwelling in our Sukkas.  For an entire week we live inside this unique
mitzvah where we rebalance ourselves and establish our course for the year,
free of the gravitational pull of our daily lives.  We wave the lulav, esrog and two other
species in all six directions suggesting an empowerment over all of the spatial
orientations and also symbolizing the Heavenly gift of freedom from attachment
to the – teva – nature through our deepening connection with the Creator. Our
avoda on Succos is essential for our spiritual growth in the upcoming year.   :  {If nothing more was done, the space craft
would begin to descend and re-enter the atmosphere.  However, about a half hour after the main
engines have shut down, usually as the shuttle reaches the highest point in the
ovoid orbit, the two orbital maneuvering system engines, are fired for about
three minutes. This causes the spacecraft to travel in a circular orbit that
stabilizes it at a safe altitude above the atmosphere.

this elevated position which spiritually parallels Shimini Atzeres/ Simchas
Torah we are truly free of  the
gravitational pull of this world.  We
enter a euphoric / blissful state of “free fall” sustained and supported by
rapturous song and ecstatic dance while embracing the holy Sefer Torahs.         

These first twenty-two days have been given to us as a blessing to
assure our proper and safe “take off” directing us properly to our new set of
goals for the New Year.   May we all
travel together, returning in joy and peace to our land, with the advent of the
Mashiach soon in our days.



[1]  The data for the space shuttle reported here
is provided by the National Space Agency. It is in no way meant to minimize our
days of holiness or limit them to the physical world. These figures are only
here to help alert us to the awesome power of these days and the advoda in

All articles appearing on this blog are copyrighted by Rabbi Yehoshua Binyamin Falk. All rights reserved. Permission is granted to share/download/copy this information as long as it is accompanied by the copyright. Separately authored/copyrighted materia

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