Preparing Our Hearts for Rosh HaShanah

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Rosh HaShanah is the first of the Ten Days of Teshuva.
On Rosh Hashanah we don’t think about the past,
we only look to the future.

Teshuva Begins in the Future

Rosh Hashanah is the creation of the world.

Every year, on this day, the world is completely renewed. Like we say in our prayers, “This is the day, the beginning of Your deeds.” And so, this year, on the first of Tishrei, 5780, creation happens, just like it did the very first time— “This is the day …”

On Rosh Hashanah, we, and everything, begins anew.

If a person feels trapped in a desperate habitual cycle of mistakes; if time and time again he is unable to breathe new life, into life, he needs to appreciate that on this day everything is brand new. Creation restarts from moment one, from absolute nothingness. Within the newness of creation is the power and ability for each person to draw on that freshness, to tap into the power and pulsating potential of a crystal-clear new beginning that enables one to make a clean break from the past and embark on a whole new direction.

On Rosh Hashanah we don’t think about the past,
we only look to the future.
On Rosh Hashanah we don’t do teshuva, we don’t say the confessional vidduy,
we don’t deal with our past sins and misdeeds.

On Rosh Hashanah we only look forward. We focus solely on our deepest, holiest desires, on our desire to be an active partner in the recognition of God’s majesty in the world. Yes, Rosh Hashanah is the first of the ten days of teshuva, but the truth is, the absolutely necessary first step in the teshuva process is to look forward, only forward, to the future. Liberated from the burdens of the past, and gazing into the future, our hearts are free to be filled with the most inspiring dreams; deep and genuine dreams that give us fresh strength, a fortified will, and new wings with which our spirits can soar above and beyond the habitual weight of the past.

Beware the Past

If the process of teshuva were to begin with focusing on the past, we could easily find ourselves drained of the strength needed to go forward. Immediately contemplating and dealing with all that went wrong, could lead us to a place where we see no hope in our lives for any alternative.

However, the powerful reality of Rosh Hashanah enables us to close our eyes to the past, to those parts of us that drain the life out of our lives, and to connect to the greatness of God, and the greatness of our Godly souls—our neshama—and to be filled with inspired hearts brimming with holy yearnings and a deep desire for avodas Hashem, for forging a profound and real relationship with the Creator.

Rosh Hashanah, and looking boldly to an unencumbered future, fills us with hope, and then with the strength to confront our mistakes and their roots within us, and to transform and elevate them in ways we never believed were possible.

Crowning the King, Elevating Ourselves

Rosh Hashanah is the day of God’s crowning, His inauguration.

With a human king, the pomp and ceremony of an inauguration is meant to highlight the magnificence of the king. That’s not the case with God. The purpose of Rosh Hashanah is to highlight, extoll, and elevate us. The truth is, God’s “greatness” is infinite and therefore it’s beyond our ability to say anything that would actually highlight God’s greatness. One can only praise or extoll the virtues of something that one can grasp. Can a small child praise the brilliance of a renowned professor? In fact, to ask a child to speak at an occasion honoring a great professor would actually be a slight to the professor.

That being the case, when we crown the King and extoll His majesty, the very fact of that event is a sign of God’s “humility,” so to speak. When we inaugurate God, we’re not honoring God, rather God is honoring us. Rosh Hashanah is God’s way of showing how precious we are to Him. It’s highlighting the fact that we are so significant that we actually can have a relationship with the Creator. In this way, Rosh Hashanah extolls and elevates us. Within the very possibility of some sort of relationship to Hashem, is revealed our grandeur, a grandeur that is found in the fact that we are created, b’tzelem Elokim, in God’s image. We, each of us, has this Godly essence, and that’s incredible.

Therefore, the day of Hashem’s inauguration as King is meant to bestow honor on His entire kingdom, and on His closest emissaries—bnei Tzion, the nation of Israel who rejoice in their King: For His honor is our honor, and His glory is our glory. We need to know, that though we stand in awe before God on Rosh Hashanah, this is in no way meant to diminish us. Just the opposite, the very fact that we can stand in front of Hashem means that we are able to draw a sense of strength and honor from His strength and honor. This is why the Maharal says that the word melech, king, means that He bestows shleimut, wholeness, on the nation.


Even the judgement that takes place on Rosh Hashanah comes from a recognition of the reality of our great stature. We are worthy of God’s attention, and the fact that we are being judged at all is a testimony to our holy essence and our potential to live and actualize that rarefied sanctity in our lives. If we are being judged, then we are being encouraged to do better, to connect ever more deeply to our soul’s—because we can—because we have been endowed with enormous potential.

What a lofty capability Hashem has placed in our hands. Through our Rosh Hashanah prayers, and our sounding of the shofar, we awaken God’s Will to come and be completely manifest as the sovereign of creation. As the Ramchal says, “On the day of Rosh Hashanah, the blessed Master of creation stands, so to speak, as a King over His world. Therefore, it is the perfect time to pray for the total revelation of His sovereignty in the world … and in this very regard, we need to do our utmost, for therein lays our goodness, and our strength.”

May we soon merit to see the complete revelation of Hashem’s majestic dominion.

Shana tova u’metuka.  


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