Friday, September 22, 2006

Rosh Hashana 5767

What follows are remarks from my rosh yeshiva before last rosh hashana. It is really just my notes of those remarks which I am posting with very little editing. (Mostly because it is erev yom tov and I don't have the time to edit it now).

The pasukim in Nechamia 8 tell about Ezra leading the people back to Hashem after they had strayed. He gathers them all together on Rosh Hashana and begins reading to them from the Torah. When the people hear what they should have been doing and realize how far they have strayed, they begin to cry. Ezra tells them not to cry or mourn because Rosh Hashana is a holy day and mourning is not allowed.Rather, he tells them to return to their homes and eat a festive meal and drink fine wines and send gifts to those who don't have enough for themselves.

What were these gifts all about? It seems unlikely that Ezra was telling them about the mitzva of tzedaka at precisely this time? All societies care for their less fortunate brethren. They didn't need to be told that.

The Maharal asks, why does our kabalas ol malchus shomayim begin with the words “shema yisroel”? The point of kabalos ol malchus shomayim is to proclaim Hashem Elokainu, Hashem Echad. Why preface that with the words Shema yisroel?

The Maharal explains, the kingdom of any king is only as strong as his nation is. If the people don't accept the monarchy, there is no monarchy. Ain melech b'lo am. The strength of the malchus is proportionate to how unified the nation is in accepting the king. So before we are mekabel the malchus shomayim on ourselves, we proclaim Shema Yisroel, as if to say “We are one group, one am yisroel, totally united in accepting You as our King”.

Ezra also, was telling the people to reach out to each other through giving gifts and caring for each other so as to create one unified nation and to thus, accept the malchus of HKBH on themselves as one united people

The main avoda of Rosh Hashana is to be mamlich HKBH. To proclaim Him as King of the universe. A natural function of a king is to judge his people, so the Yom Hadin aspect of Rosh Hashana is really a toza'a of being mamlich.

At the end of the tachnun we say the tefillah of shomer yisrael. In it we ask for Hashem's protection based on three things. 1. ha'omrim shema yisrael 2. hamiyachadim shimcha heshem elokeinu hashem echad 3. hamishalishim b'shalosh kedushas. Now if we examine this list we will see that items 1 and 2 seem to refer to the same thing. However, according to the Maharal that we mentioned before it makes a lot of sense. Ha’omrim shema yisroel is not referring to Kabalos ol malchus shomayim. It is referring to the fact that we are a united people.

May the coming year bring with it simcha and brocha for all of klal yisroel – as one united nation.