Rabbi Yitschak Rudomin

At this point in time of year you have something in common with the First Couple in recorded human history. Adam and Eve were both "freshmen;" he because of who he was, and she because she came from him. They didn't have an easy time - and neither are you. It's never easy starting afresh, whether it's your first year at NYU or your last, it always comes with mixed emotions.

How on Earth could I arrive at the comparison at all? Well, think again, slowly, what do you see?... So far nothing? Or is it a Shofar (Rams horn)? Get it? Fantastic! The new year at NYU roughly coincides with the New Year of the Jews: The Birth Day of the Universe, Earth, and Man and Woman... Rosh Hashanah.

Now that the stage is set, let me draw out the analogy as it applies to you now at NYU. The reason I am doing this is because I accept that the Bible can teach us many, many lessons no matter who, where, or what we are.

Also, an important teaching of Judaism is that "Kol hatchalot Kashot:" All beginnings are difficult, and therefore it figures that right now you're suffering from some shade of the blues, or whatever color you prefer to paint your hair, lips, skin, etc. There they were, boy and girl wonder, made by the Almighty Himself, besides themselves. Like you, they had good breeding, and came from a good home (Heaven itself). They were placed in a fabulous garden with no need for a stitch of clothing (perfect heating/ cooling system). You in turn find yourself in "The Village," one of the greatest creations of New York culture, and hopefully you will not go beyond (or is it less than) your shirt and pants. And, your A/C is great.

If everything is so great, so what's the problem now? Think!....Mmmm.

Well, maybe you feel you have too many instructions and tasks to fulfill. Okay. But, what about relationships and temptations? Now you're really talking.

Adam and Eve had your problems. You better believe it! So you want proof, eh? Okay, one, two, three, four:

One. Adam couldn't bear it alone. He was lonely. He needed companionship. This was solved by the creation of Eve, but her presence would prove fatal for both of them.

Two. Adam was given clear orders by The Boss: Do not eat from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. He and his wife couldn't follow instructions, and they blew the whole thing.

Three. Eve was foolish enough to allow herself to be tempted, seduced, and according to one Torah interpretation, date raped by a snake, not quite in the grass, but in a tree. He sure made a monkey out of her.

Four. Both Adam and Eve get themselves thrown out of their little Eden, and to add insult to injury they have to wear, not chastity belts, but clothes. Goodbye dream land and hello reality.

For you, as you start Your beginning, the meaning of these examples is clear:

(1) Don't let your loneliness lead you to foolish relationships.

(2) Follow instructions, because basically you cannot beat City Hall.

(3) Don't let temptation get the better of you, and try to limit seduction.

(4) Don't get yourself thrown out of school, or out of class, or out of Judaism. We all need you and each other.

Finally, may you have a great year at NYU, and hopefully I'll get to see you at one of my lectures soon.

SHANAH TOVA (good year) - Have a Happy Sweet Jewish New Year.

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