By Rabbi Moshe Meir Weiss
On Rosh Hashanah, after the tekios in musaf, we say “Hayom haras olam – On this day the world was created.” This is difficult to understand since the world was created on the 25th day of Elul, six days before. The universal answer given is that on Rosh Hashanah Hashem created man (on the 6th day of creation) and it is only then that He became King. For, in order to be a king you need to have subjects.
This after all is the central theme of Rosh Hashanah, to re-inaugurate Hashem as our King. This is why we say tashlich by the water, since kings were appointed by the water. This is why the chazzan, after nishmas, says HaMelech in a haunting melody, to accentuate that Hashem is our King. This is one of the symbols for the shofar ritual, to coronate Hashem as our Supreme Ruler.
It behooves us, in order to make our Rosh Hashanah experience spiritually meaningful, to reflect upon what it means that we are renewing our commitment that Hashem is our King. Here are some ideas.
1) As a Torah Jew, we can’t do what we want. Rather, we do what our King tells us to do. We want to sleep in but the King says we have to go to shacharis. We want to peek at the women passing but the King says, “Lo sasuru acharei levav’chem v’acharei eineichem – Don’t turn aside to follow your heart and your eyes.” We want to lie to get out of a sticky situation, but the King says, “Midvar sheker tirchak – From any falsehood you should distance yourself.” We want to explode and scream at our spouse, but the King says, “V’ahavta l’rei’acha k’mocha – Love your fellow as yourself.” And many, many more such examples.
2) As subjects of our King, we proudly bear the King’s seal with our bris milah, which is Hashem’s coat-of-arms. Similarly, we wear with distinction Hashem’s insignia with our yarmulke, tefillin, tzitzis, sheitlach, snoods, and tichels.
3) We will be more aware that our tefillah/prayer is a privileged opportunity to have an audience with the King. We will therefore dress appropriately, pay attention accordingly, and realize that our prayers, when listened to, can make a huge difference in our lives.
4) Our Shabbos experience is a weekly affirmation that we are the subjects of an All-Powerful King Who commands us that once a week we should desist from any creative labor to remember that we are His complete and loyal subjects.
5) Reaffirming that Hashem is our King, we commit ourselves to making His will the decisive factor in our decision making, thus fulfilling the all-important command, “Es Hashem Elokeichem tirah – To fear and be aware of your G-d,” which the Ramban teaches us is the positive commandment to use the fear of G-d as an inhibition from doing something wrong and an incentive to live properly. Knowing that Hashem is our Supreme Commander, we will mightily strive to give Him nachas which is fulfilled by emulating His ways. Just as He is merciful, we will be merciful. Just as He is gracious, we will be gracious, and we will give Him “pleasure” by occupying ourselves with His greatest love which is the learning of Hashem’s Torah.
In the merit of the coronation of Hashem as our King, may He bestow upon us long life, good health, and a sweet and wonderful New Year.
(L’refuah sheleima Miriam Liba bas Devora.)
- S. Let’s have each other in mind during these Holy days. Hashem loves when His children pray for each other and not just for themselves.
Sheldon Zeitlin takes dictation of, and edits, Rabbi Weiss’s articles.
Rav Weiss finished Shas Mishnayos on the phone. You can start a new cycle with him anytime by dialing 718.906.6471. Or you can listen to his daily Shiur on Orchos Chaim l’HaRosh by dialing 718.906.6400, then going to selection 4 for Mussar, and then to selection 4. Both are FREE services.
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