Rav Moshe Shmuel Shapiro: Is Rosh Hashanah a Day of Teshuva?

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We all know that Rosh HaShana is not a day where we bombard Hashem with our wish list for the upcoming year. But is it a day of Tshuva? On one hand we don’t say Slichos and avoid all mention¬†of any reference to aveiros on this day, but on the other hand we blow the Shofar which is very much tied to¬†tshuva. We also know that there are Aseres Yimei Tshuva of which Rosh HaShana is part of. So is it a day of tshuva or is it just a day to coronate our King and kick off our new year?Rav Moshe Shmuel Shapiro says that indeed it is a day of Tshuva but a special kind of Tshuva. On Yom Kippur we do tshuva for each and every one of our aveiros. Not so on Rosh HaShana. The Rambam says that the blast of the Shofar is to awaken us from our slumber and remind us to do tshuva. What kind of tshuva? The Rambam continues that we must remember our creator and stop sleeping through life indulging in all the silly pleasures of this world. We need to peer deeply into our hearts and change our outlook.

Rav Moshe Shmuel says that on Yom Kippur we do tshuva for all the actual aveiros that we did. On Rosh HaShana we repair our character and out outlook on life. We need to repent for our anger, hatred, jealousy, lust after money and food, and so on, says the Rambam (Tshuva 7:3). Rosh HaShana is a day to reflect on the year that was and to chart a course for the new year. Once we’ve made that change over the next ten days we then look at the details. We assess the actual damage and make repairs.

On Rosh Hashana we don’t need viduy and all the outward manifestations of Tshuva. We need deep and honest contemplation. We need to recognize who is the boss, who created the world on this day, and what our job is. This we do on the first day of the year and we start by crowning our King and pointing our eyes and thoughts towards him.

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