Stem cells, like Rosh Hashanah, give the opportunity to be reborn

Rosh Hashanah is the 'Harat Olam' – the pregnancy of the world. It is our responsibility to pray that this pregnancy will be the best it can be.

Rabbi Yitzhak Neriya (photo credit: Courtesy)
Rabbi Yitzhak Neriya
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Rosh Hashanah is the day of pregnancy of the world. היום הרת עולם Hayom Harat Olam (The day of creation of the world). What does it mean?
Medical research today is focusing on a fascinating and visionary field, which is the study of "stem cells."
The uniqueness of stem cells comes from two main features which distinguish them from other cells. The first is that they are still 'neutral cells', meaning, they have not yet received their final identity and purpose in the body, so they have not yet finalized their  differentiation process. As a result of this, they are able to differentiate and can develop into one of many types of mature cells, such as a skin cell, a muscle cell or a blood cell. By doing so, new cells are created, which can regenerate various tissues and organs.
The second unique feature of stem cells is that they are able to divide and multiply infinitely and produce identical cells. Thus, a constant pool of unsorted stem cells that have not acquired a final designation is preserved.
The possibilities of healing, cell regeneration and the human body in general are fascinating, and the field of stem cells is one of the leading fields in the world. Its healing potentials are so vast, not only when it comes to repairing the damaged, but also recreating something more true and precise.
When I think of Rosh Hashanah from a spiritual standpoint, it feels like today is the birth of the world. We have before us 353 days (because some Jewish months aren’t full) which have not yet been defined by how they will play out and how they will look. It is unknown how we will succeed as individuals, and how we will succeed as nation.
Interestingly, the second feature that exists with stem cells also connects to Rosh Hashanah. On this holy day, we are praying and asking Hashem from a place of "anything is possible" – there are no boundaries, no glass barriers, no one is stopping us from simply praying and asking.
Hashem, everything is completely in our hands! We can change the world and create something entirely new. Rosh Hashanah gives us the opportunity to create and build anew; it’s the source of rebirth for the relationship between man and his friend, man and  Hashem, and of course, man as one who is part of a nation and of the entire world.
It's not for nothing that it is written in the Talmud Yerushalmi that whoever spends his time on Rosh Hashanah sleeping, his luck will also sleep. It's the time to act, ask, beg and change.
The cells will divide, the decisions made will be in place, and the abundance from shamayim (heaven) will come down. We now have a very great ability and opportunity to influence that. Please don’t miss out on this opportunity!
Be that as it may, today is עולם הרת Harat Olam– the pregnancy of the world. It is our responsibility to pray that this pregnancy will be the best it can be. Have a happy and sweet New Year.
Rabbi Yitzḥak Neriya is the head of the Torah Betzion yeshiva and founder of the Echad Lechad (One to One) foundation.