As we begin the new Torah cycle, let’s take a moment to contemplate the deeper purpose of Torah. Some may refer to the Torah as a history book; others may think of it as a book of law or a source of Jewish wisdom. While these are all true, they only scratch the surface of the Torah’s true nature. Torah is not simply a guide to living a life of truth within this world; it is the blueprint and DNA of the world itself. Our physical world is a projection and emanation of the deep spiritual reality described in the Torah. This is the meaning behind the famous midrash, “Istakel b’Oraisa u’bara alma – [Hashem] looked into the Torah and used it to create the world” (B’reishis Rabbah 1:1). Torah is the spiritual root of existence; the physical world is its expression.

The birth of a new year is a time of reflection and resolution, when hope and inspiration fill the air. We dream about what this upcoming year holds in store for us, how we can make the rest of our life the best of our life. We all have ideas, ambitions, and aspirations that we yearn to bring to fruition, and the new year gives us “permission” to revisit these goals and breathe new life into them. For a brief moment, everything is crystal clear, we see our purpose and our path with vivid clarity. However, there is an underlying frustration that accompanies this time period, as well. If we reflect honestly, we often realize that our new year’s resolutions are awfully similar to those of last year, and the year before, and the year before…

“T’shuvah” is a word that’s often associated with this time of year. Yet, when we hear it, we often want to run away. Can I really make such massive changes in my life? How am I supposed to break the negative habits that are so deeply ingrained in me? Yom Kippur is right around the corner and my Torah learning, my t’filah, and my interpersonal relationships are nowhere near what they should be. This seems too daunting a task.

A speaker once started his seminar by holding up a $100 bill. “Who would like this $100 bill?” he asked.

Every hand in the room went up.

The speaker looked around, and then crumpled the bill in his hand.

Time is infused with infinite spiritual richness, and each point in time is a wave that carries with it layers of depth. The cycle of holidays is a course of spiritual progression that we can tap into as we advance towards our ultimate personal and collective destination. The cycle of Torah reading provides this same opportunity. Each parshah has unique ideas and concepts that are particularly relevant to the time of year when it is read. As we go through this cycle, year after year, we propel our kabalas haTorah forward one level higher every year. Every time we restart the Torah cycle, we begin the same Torah, but on a more elevated level, turning the circular Torah cycle into an elevating spiral in time.