Preparing for the New Year

Elul.

It is the month that Hakadosh Baruch Hu, in His great kindness, gave us to prepare for Rosh Hashanah.

On Rosh Hashanah, Hashem calculates the exact budget He has in mind for us in this new year. How will our family fare in the area of health? How about parnassah? Nachas? How about shidduchim?

And what about our community? How about the Jews of Eretz Yisrael? There are so many questions that enter our minds as we seriously consider what will happen on the Yom Hadin.

Surprisingly, when we open the machzor and look at the Amidah of Rosh Hashanah, we find not one of these issues.

In no place in the Amidah that was composed by the Anshei Knesses Hagedolah for this day, do we find any tefillos for our own health or prosperity. True, the Geonim tacked on later tefillos for chaim and parnassah, but if one forgets to say them he does not have to repeat Shemoneh Esrei. They obviously are not the most critical part of the tefillah.

Why is this so? Aren’t these our major concerns, in addition to the tefillos for kvod malchus Shamayim that is the primary focus of our Yamim Nora’im tefillos?

I remember how, at an Agudah convention, Rabbi Shimon Schwab, zt”l, once vividly described a Polish Jew standing on a wintry Motzoei Shabbos reciting Kiddush Levanah. This Polish Jew had neither enough money to buy clothing to keep out the cold nor to purchase food to stave off his pangs of hunger. Yet, he stood in the frost, shivering away, and recited, “Please, Ribbono shel Olam, fill the symbolic flaw of the moon.”

Surely this holy Polish Yid had more to worry about! Was the fact that the moon was symbolically flawed the only thing on his mind? Rabbi Schwab answered, “All of our needs would be filled if Moshiach would come and we would see Malchus Shamayim.”

As my rebbi, Harav Dovid Kronglas, zt”l, would teach, “Our greatest success, brachah, and path to salvation is when we develop closeness to Hashem. The more we express the feeling that we want Hakadosh Baruch Hu to be our King and us to be His servants, the closer He comes to us. And the closer He approaches us, the more our problems disappear.”

We say in the daily Shemoneh Esrei, “We want ohr Panecha — for with the light of Your countenance You gave us the Torah of life, and loving kindness, righteousness, blessing, compassion, life and peace.” In short, all the things that we desire are obtained when Hakadosh Baruch Hu reveals Himself as our King.

Our main effort and tefillah on Rosh Hashanah is to proclaim to Hashem that we desire Him as our King. That is what Hashem is waiting for. He desires this so that He can pour out His love and beneficence upon His people.

Since that is the essential message of the tefillos and the avodah of Rosh Hashanah, from the time that I was zocheh to move to Eretz Yisrael I have chosen to daven on Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur in the beis medrash of Yeshivah Ohr Somayach in Yerushalayim.

In that beis medrash there are hundreds of students who, although raised in secular homes without an opportunity as children to receive a Torah education, call out with great fervor, “Hashem Hu HaElokim.”

In essence they are saying, “We’ve seen it all. We were put to the test of being exposed to all the idolatries and temptations that the world has to offer. We studied all the false philosophies that man has conceived but nothing struck us as genuine as Torah and Yiddishkeit. We want to come closer to Hashem and we want Him to be our King.”

To stand among these students, many of whom are today indistinguishable from yeshivah bachurim and yungeleit in yeshivos and kollelim throughout the world, is exhilarating.

It gives one the feeling that Hakadosh Baruch Hu has to have nachas from His people. There is nothing He can do to us that will keep us away from Him. We love Him. We want Him and if we ever leave Him, chas v’shalom — we will return.

The humbling experience of davening on the Yamim Nora’im with these special children of Hakadosh Baruch Hu is, in my opinion, the greatest hisorerus to help bring a kesivah vachasimah tovah.

At this opportunity I’d like to send my birkas Kohen from Eretz Yisrael to all the readers for a shnas brachah v’hatzlachah. May we all together see the return of many more of Hashem’s children and the revelation of kvod malchus Shamayim with bias Moshiach bimheirah biyameinu. 


The author can be reached at rabbisbloom@gmail.com