VOLUME 52 NUMBER 8
SEPTEMBER 9th, 2010
1 TISHREI, 5771
Here Ye, Here Ye
By Rabbi Raphael Leban
Perhaps one of the downsides of democracy is that we never get to experience the coronation of a king.
Let’s imagine for a moment what it must be like. A day off from work. Well, it is a national holiday, right? All the people gather together, converging upon the palace or at least upon the great meeting halls for live television coverage. Everyone is dressed in their most festive attire. (But did you see what she was wearing?!)
The flags wave, the crowds cheer and sing, the children are nearly trampled in the excitement.
And then, the new king’s procession appears. He sits in a shiny golden chariot, led by a team of strong steeds adorned with glittering gem-filled bridles. The king’s exquisite royal robes are barely visible through the curtained chariot windows, and everyone cranes their necks and presses forward to catch a glimpse. As the king passes by, the courtiers’ trumpets blow a resounding blast.
What greater excitement could there be than the arrival of the new king? Other than a public beheading, of course, which also tends to draw a crowd.
We cheer and spill drinks and try to get close to the king as he arrives at his coronation.
This is Rosh Hashana, the holiday of the kingship of G-d. Every year we coronate G-d as our king. Again.
We take a day off to gather in our synagogues, dressed up in our fancy clothes, dining in royal fashion. We blow the shofar and declare in unison that G-d is our king for another year. The Rabbi speaks too long and the children make everyone aggravated.
Long live the king!
When the king rides by, we are awestruck by his greatness, his majesty and his power. We are reminded of the king’s constant leadership and majestic benevolence. His royal feet never touch the ground.
This feeling of closeness and connection, this emotional excitement at the arrival of the King of Kings, this sense of Divine Kingship is available in the sound of the shofar. Close your eyes. Listen to the trumpet-like blast. Imagine the arrival of the King’s chariot.
The feeling awakens and inspires in us the desire to be His loyal, beloved subjects. To get as near to Him as possible, and to honor Him with our fidelity.
And after the coronation, after the impact of the experience, we have a week to muse on the past year and how much more we can be a source of pride to our Creator in the year to come, before He declares a national amnesty on Yom Kippur.
May we all be written and sealed in the Book of Life for a sweet new year!
By Rabbi Dovid Nussbaum
As we stand at the last day of the year preparing for judgment before the Master of the Universe, what thoughts should we be thinking? Rosh Hashanah is the beginning of the Ten Days of Teshuva. Obviously an attempt to start the teshuva process should be uppermost in our minds. From where do we commence? There are so many imperfections in our lives it’s overwhelming. Yet we must make the effort. If we approach the Heavenly Court ignoring our responsibility to do teshuva, that in itself will be a tremendous strike against us. How can a mortal creature, knowing full well that he is under intense scrutiny, disregard the necessity of doing teshuva? Fear is a very powerful motivator. If we would be facing a court case, even for a minor traffic violation, we would be anxious and nervous. Perhaps if the Heavenly Court takes notice of our tension, it will enable us to survive the examination process. The answer to this question is very difficult and requires much attention and consideration.
However, there is one thing that we should realize. Rabbeinu Yonah writes in his famous treatise, ‘The Gates of Repentance’, that Hashem assists us in our effort to do teshuva because of His great love for us. Even though we cannot achieve such a lofty goal ourselves, we do not stand alone. Hashem takes us by the hand and leads us down the road of repentance. At this point, the nature of our judgment takes on a new, wonderful twist. Although it is true that we must fear the upcoming judgment and prepare ourselves appropriately, this court case is unlike any other that we are familiar with. In this case, the judge wants us to come out untarnished!
If our Rosh Hashanah, our Day of Judgment, with all its trepidation and anxiety, is rooted in the attribute of love, it is much easier to respond to that call. After all, it is not one of rebuke and scolding, but rather one of endearment and closeness. Just as a parent castigates and punishes a child for the child’s benefit, so too, Hashem dangles the sword of reprimand and chastisement over our heads in order to spur us on to increase our desire to fulfill the Torah. With this message of encouragement and support in mind, we wish that the entire nation should merit to be inscribed in the Book of the Righteous for a year of the best of health, nachas from each other and blessing in all that we do.
Byte for Rosh Hashanah
Adam was created on Rosh Hashanah. The essence of man is his ability to speak and thereby communicate. When we hear the sound of the shofar, we must dedicate our power of speech to use in recognition of Our Creator.