Rosh Hashana 5774: The King

Rosh Hashana 5774: The King

Every year, during one of our Rosh Hashana meals, I share with my family and guests the following insightful thought presented by Rabbi Gedalia Schorr o.b.m.

Rabbi Schorr addresses a question that crosses the mind of many people. If one reviews practically all the prayers we recite on Rosh Hashana, one cannot fail to notice a blatant omission; we do not ask G-d for our needs or for forgiveness, nor do we mention or ask for atonement for any of our sins. If so, what are we praying for on Rosh Hashana – The Day of Judgment?

Rabbi Schorr captures the essence of Rosh Hashana with the following explanation:

Rosh Hashana is observed on the anniversary of the sixth day of creation, the day that Adam was created. Adam – man – was the only creation invested with an intellectual capacity and the ability to make conscious choices. Adam recognized and proclaimed G-d as King over the entire universe on the day he was created, and thus G-d’s Kingdom became complete.

One of the reasons we sound the Shofar on Rosh Hashana is because traditionally a Shofar was sounded at a king’s coronation. Thus, when we sound the Shofar we are in essence reenacting Adam’s coronation of G-d as our King.

Just as a human king reviews the accomplishments and loyalty of his advisers, officers and troops, and rewards or demotes them on the anniversary of his coronation, so too, each and every year on the anniversary of the beginning of His Kingdom, G-d reviews His subjects.

When the Almighty reviews us on Rosh Hashana, He doesn’t only take into account how loyal or disloyal we were during the past year, rather, He is aware of our thoughts and prayers and probes our inner thoughts seeing the spiritual goals we set for ourselves, and how devoted we wish to be towards Him in the coming year.
You will notice that this is exactly the function of our prayers on Rosh Hashana.

We mention all sorts of praises and wonderment of the mastery of the Almighty. We continually proclaim that G-d is the Melech – King over all, and that we are subjugated and stand in awe of Him. After expressing this loyalty, willingness and interest in identifying with the Almighty, G-d judges us how we will fit into His Dominion in the coming year.

There is another important element in G-d’s Judgment; aside from our personal judgment, He judges us as part of the Jewish people.

This means that even though we may not deserve a positive judgment on our own merits, when we proclaim G-d as King on Rosh Hashana together with the totality of the Jewish people, we merit being judged as part of the loyal coalition of the Jewish people. This has a positive impact on our personal judgment.

Rosh Hashana is a time of ultimate unification; for it is when all Jews pray, reflect, recognize and express G-d’s sovereignty, power and control over all.

May we all merit a year of life – together with blessings of success, happiness, good health, Nachas and peace within our homes, communities, Israel and throughout the world.

Rabbi Dovid and Malki Saks and family