Sound Bites: Divine Sparks
The Talmud (Rosh Hashanah 11a) relates that Yosef was released from Potiphar’s prison on Rosh Hashanah. While his actual release is of great significance (marking the beginning of the Egyptian Exile), this may be interpreted homiletically
to allude to the release of the Divine spark of every Jew on Rosh Hashanah. This kernel of goodness, called yosef, to add, because of our sincere wish that it be enhanced, is bound all year to the body and its physical passions but is released on Rosh Hashanah.
An analogy may be drawn between the release of this pure inner spark and the brit milah. Just as this sacred ritual always associated with attaining moral purity contains three phases – removal of the outer flesh; retraction of the membrane; and extricating [some of] the blood of the bris [milah] – so too, releasing the soul from its own orlah, the limitations imposed by the body, involves three phases – malchuyot zichronot shofarot. Just as the consummation of the brit milah enables the inner light inherent in every Jew to radiate, so too the combined effect of these tefillot and the shofar dismantle all barriers to our spiritual and moral growth. (Sefat Emet Likutim 5663)