Thursday, August 29, 2013

Who's the Boss, Mind or Heart?



Question of the Week:


I asked my boss for two days off for the Jewish New Year. I was nervous he was going to ask why two days for a new year celebration. He didn't. He figured the second day was to get over the hangover. But he did ask me why Jewish New Year is in the middle of the year. I answered that it is in the beginning of the year according to the Bible. He asked for a quote. So I looked it up only to find that according to the Torah, Rosh Hashana is celebrated in the seventh month! How do we explain that?




The Jewish year has two beginnings. We just can't keep it simple, can we?


The first month of the year is the Hebrew month of Nissan, when we went out of Egypt and became a nation. Rosh Hashana, exactly half way through the year, is the day Adam and Eve were created.


But we only celebrate Rosh Hashana as the new year. Because Rosh Hashana is not the beginning of the year, it is the head of the year. And your head is centered in the middle of your body.


There are two drivers of the human personality, the head and the heart. Your head is the seat of intellect, while your heart represents emotion. Unlike your heart, which veers off to the left side of your body, your head is symmetrically placed in the middle. This is because intellect in its pure form is balanced, objective and unbiased. The mind is impartial, dispassionate and removed, and thus able to judge. So it sits over the middle of the body. Emotion takes sides, is biased and subjective. Our heart is the home of passion and feeling, it can tend to extremes, and so it rests to one side of the body.


There is an age-old quandary. Who should be king over our castle, the mind or the heart? Should we think before we act, or should we follow our feelings? Should we live a life of heated passion, or of cold calculation?


The Zohar teaches that "the mind directs the heart." Passion is wonderful, as long as it is pointed in the right direction. Start with the head, and then introduce the heart. Before getting subjective about anything, look at it objectively. This is why we celebrate Rosh Hashana, the head of the year, in the middle of the year. We start off in the balanced center, so our passions can be focused and channeled.


Life is lived in the heart. But life decisions have to be made with a steady head. On Rosh Hashana, we get into the right headspace to start the year with clear direction and a well thought out vision. The head has to be in charge. Your boss should get that.


I wish you a sweet new year, may you be written in the Book of Life,

Rabbi Moss



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