“On the first day of the seventh month… you shall not do any service-work!” (Vayikra 23:24-25)
It is a negative commandment that we may not do work on the first day of the month of Tishrei as it says “On the first day of the seventh month… you shall not do any service-work!”. Tishrei is called the seventh month, as it is the seventh after Nissan which is the called the new year of the months. About this day, the first of Tishrei, Chazal said that it is called “The beginning of the year” regarding counting years, rest-years and jubilees and certain other laws.
Chazal also said that on this day all of the people of the world are judged for their deeds and actions, and they said as an allegory that all people walk in front of him like sheep. This means to say that they go one at a time and not all mixed together. They say this in order to show that the supervision of Hashem is directly on the deeds of every individual.
Amongst the roots of this commandment are that it is one of the kindnesses of Hashem to all of His creations to count them and look at their deeds once a year, so that their sins will not build up too much and there will be room for atonement. Hashem is called “Much kindness” which means that He always leans towards kindness, and since there are not very many sins, He ignores them. Even if there are some sins which need punishment, He will make sure to punish slowly. If, on the other hand, He would not count the sins for long periods of time, the sins would build up so much that the whole world would need to be annihilated, G-d forbid.
The result of all this is that this honored day, which is called the beginning of the year, is considered the basis of the existence of the world, and it is therefore fitting to make it into a festival, and to count it amongst the precious festivals of the year. On the other hand, since it is the day of judgment for judging all of the living beings, it is fitting that we should stand on it with more fear and awe than on the other festivals of the year. This is the point of “remembrance of Teruah” which is mentioned about this day, for the Teruah is a broken sound, to remind us that each person should break the strength of his desire, and regret all of his bad deeds.
It is for this reason that Chazal did not institute saying Halel on this festival, as we have said that it is not fitting for a person to say songs when standing in judgement.
Chazal said that four things can tear up the sentence of a man and they are charity, praying, name-change and deed-change. A name-change signifies that the whole person is considered a new person, and will start again and fix all his actions and whenever he reads his name he will remember that he wants to start again.