Rosh Hashanah: The Power of Naming Our Desire

September 22, 2022
Reading time: 3 minutes
Appreciation, General, Motivation

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What’s in a name? Apparently, a lot more than we might imagine.

The biblical story of Genesis conveys how the first people “gave names to all cattle and to the fowl of the air” (2:20). Yet the Kabbalistic Zohar takes this story a step further. It teaches that, through their naming, the creatures became animated for the first time! In other words, once we name something–anything we desire–we give it life. We set into motion the creation of our desires simply by knowing and naming what we truly want.

And, at this time in the cosmic calendar, the potential we have to create (and re-create) our own lives is at its peak. Rosh Hashanah–or “the head of the new year”–falls on the first day in the month of Tishrei (Libra). On this day and throughout the month, we are naturally aligned with the powerful energies of renewal and manifestation.

The past month of Virgo encouraged us to practice Teshuvah, which translates to returning. Whether or not you participated in my 30 Days of Virgo Life Audit, this is the time of year to sit down and take a close look at where you’ve been… what has or has not been working in your life. Only by understanding our past mistakes (or wrong turns) can we perform the necessary “tune-ups” and accurately identify–and name–where we’d most like to go and grow!

Research has backed the power of naming in creating meaningful and lasting connections between ourselves and the things we name. Psychologist Dr. Suzanne Degges-White has written extensively about the “great power of naming things.” The act of naming is more than assigning an identification (though it does that, too). The act itself creates a sort of psychological ownership—the feeling that something belongs to us more intimately. This explains why couples often create pet names for one another; it’s also why those who raise animals for food rarely name their chickens or cows. When we don’t name something, we can keep it at a distance and feel less responsible for fostering any real connection to it.

Yet naming our desires isn’t enough to bring them to fruition. We have to take an active role in becoming co-creators of our destiny. Rav Berg wrote that “achieving true change requires willpower, purpose, and perseverance.” He compared the process of creation to the establishment of a business. Using the example of a shoe factory, he set up a scenario where the production line is ready, all the machines are in working order, and all the raw materials are in place. Despite all this preparation, though, the factory will not produce anything by itself. The potential that’s so clearly present will not be realized without action. It’s a dance between the creator (in this case, the shoe designer) and the steps towards creation. How and in what order will the materials be cut? Which machine will create each part of the shoe, and how will the pieces be brought together?

A similar dance plays out for our personal goals, too. When our deepest desires are aligned both with our purpose and with the intention of sharing our light with the world, the Light of the Creator will help us find the best ways to make it happen.

This is no time for complacency! At Rosh Hashanah, the shofar (traditionally a ram’s horn) is blown, its piercing resonance reminding us to wake up. It tells us that every intention–including the one that fabricated those perfect shoes–requires our action and some measure of planning if it is to manifest. Luckily for us, the equanimity of Libra (symbolized by the balanced scales) can help us weigh our options carefully and avoid the pitfalls of acting too rashly. Yet if we remain steadfast at our center of gravity, we can set our course and then move forward with certainty and confidence.

There’s an old proverb that states, “If you don’t know where you are going, you are never going to get there.” I’d like to add that in order to know where you’re going, you’d best know where you’ve been. As we move into a new year rife with possibilities, I encourage you to leave behind that which no longer serves you. At the same time, remind yourself of what has worked for you. Reacquaint yourself with the activities, people, places, and situations that excite you the most. Consult your heart and remember what brings you closer to yourself and your inner joy. Most of all, get in touch with your purpose, and then name it… and while you’re at it, name your desire, too!

It is through that naming, through that knowing and wanting, that your new life will be born. Happy New Year!


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