Dear friends, 

The New Year 5783 is distinctive. It is the year of Hakhel (Year of Assembly). When the Holy Temple stood in Jerusalem, the special Mitzvah of Hakhel occurred once every seventh year following the Shmita year. All Jews: men, women, and children, assembled before the king who read for them portions from the Torah in order to inspire everyone to follow the Torah and do Mitzvos. 

We no longer gather in Jerusalem to learn Torah from the king. However, the theme of this Mitzvah carries on, for the year of Hakhel is a year to bring people together. It is a time to create communal opportunities to remind ourselves to live our lives in the sacred manner as taught in the Torah. 

On a deeper level Hakhel means that we must work to "collect" our own internal characteristics: our talents, our gifts, and even our flaws, and seek ways to make them a bit more holy, through our thoughts, our speech, and of course, our actions. 

The message of Hakhel resonates with particular meaning now, as we emerge from the pandemic, thank G‑d. During the past few years we have been constrained in our ability to assemble and to gather together. Now the Jewish calendar year of 5783 instructs us Hakhel – assemble in order to elevate. 

With esteem and my warmest blessings for a Kesiva vaChasima Tova, for a Good and Sweet Year, 

Rabbi Hershey Novack