When the residents of a certain province decided on their own to crown a powerful king as their ruler, the sovereign was ecstatic. At the coronation ceremony, the king instructed that the assembled blow trumpets in his honor — a request that elicited some surprise.
As if he wouldn’t be a king without the trumpets, many in the crowd thought. Subsequently, the king ordered that every year, on a day set aside to celebrate his rule, the trumpets be blown again, something that the residents found even more puzzling.
With the passage of years, the inhabitants of the province rebelled against the king, and His Majesty promptly ordered a firm and powerful response to the uprising. Fearing his wrath and regretting their actions, the locals decided to try to appease the king. They soon discovered that it was impossible to approach the ruler, as the royal palace was surrounded by massive security and armed guards who blocked all access.
The inhabitants gathered to find a way out of the crisis and finally came up with an idea: They would seek to remind His Majesty of the great joy he had experienced many years earlier when they voluntarily accepted his rule upon themselves. Perhaps this would evoke his mercy.
They waited for the annual day of celebration. Taking trumpets in their hands, they gathered near the king’s palace, as close as the guard would allow, and began to blow.
Hearing the sounds of the trumpets, the king recalled the day of his coronation and agreed to be reconciled with his subjects. He invited them into the royal courtyard, and they, in turn, promised never to rebel again.
In a similar vein, every year on Rosh Hashanah, a day on which we celebrate Hashem’s rule over the world; Am Yisrael blows the shofar — the same sound that was heard when we gathered at Har Sinai. On this Day of Judgment, we seek to evoke the merits of Mattan Torah, when Bnei Yisrael on their own declared, “Naaseh V’nishma” and accepted the yoke of Torah for themselves and all generations to come.
Like the residents of the province in the parable, we, too, are banished from the royal palace and each year, as we blow shofar, we plead that Hashem should remember the great joy of Mattan Torah, and gather us in to His royal courtyard with the coming of Moshiach and the Geulah Sheleimah. (Based on the teaching of the Berditchever Rav, zy”a, as quoted by his talmid, Harav Aharon of Zhitomir in the sefer Toldos Aharon.)
This week the Torah teaches us: “For this commandment that I command you today, is not hidden from you and it is not distant. It is not in Heaven, [for you] to say, ‘Who can ascend to the Heaven for us and take it for us, so that we can listen to it and perform it?’
Nor is it across the sea [for you] to say, ‘Who can cross to the other side of the sea for us and take it for us, so that we can listen to it and perform it?’ Rather, the matter is very near to you, in your mouth and your heart to perform it.” (Devarim 30:11–14)
What is this “commandment” that is singled out in such a manner? Rashi explains that it is referring to the Torah itself; that the goal of knowing and fulfilling the Torah is within our grasp.
Never in our history has it been easier for someone to study Torah than it is in our generation, and indeed, many members of Klal Yisrael take advantage of the opportunities that exist today and spend many hours cleaving to the Ribbono shel Olam through learning Torah.
In his sefer Eish Kodesh, written in the Warsaw Ghetto during the Holocaust, the Piaseczner Rebbe, Hy”d, teaches that when our heartfelt tefillos soar up to Shamayim on Rosh Hashanah, they are surrounded and escorted by the sounds of our learning Torah, especially the Torah studies during the month of Elul.
On Rosh Hashanah, as the call of the shofar evokes the glorious memory of the giving of the Torah, the combination of our tefillos and limud haTorah will pierce the very Heavens.
May all of Klal Yisrael merit a kesivah vachasimah tovah.