Rosh Hashanah, the first day of the new year, is upon us. The Day of Judgment, when Hashem will decide our fate for the coming year is approaching.
Rabbi Chaim Freidlander asks a basic question, which answer clarifies the essence of Rosh Hashanah. Why is the Day of Judgment on the first day of the new year and not the last? If we were to bring this concept down into our practical lives, we would see how odd it seems. For example, a test is usually given on the last day of school, not the first day! Why are we being tested on the first day of the year?
Rabbi Freidlander explains that the Day of Judgment is not “test day”, rather, it is a placement day. The King of Kings, Hashem, is being coronated and He is assembling His new “government”. Where we are placed in this government is being determined on Rosh Hashanah.
This explains why we do not say vidui, the confessions of sin, on Rosh Hashanah. Rosh Hashanah is not about self-effacement and recognition of sin. It is the opposite! The King of Kings is appointing His ministers, His servants, His guards. We want to be appointed to a good position, with health, wealth and nachas from our children. Our davening on Rosh Hashanah should reflect this. We daven for the future, the new year, and not what happened last year.
Rabbi Spire explains that Hashem wants to see which direction we are driving in. If we were headed in the wrong direction — before the end of Rosh Hashanah we must fix this; we need to turn the car around! We are not yet talking about driving in the right direction, which can be done later — just making sure we are pointing towards where we should be.
Let us return to the village we were talking about, where there is another person we did not speak of. He slept all through the noises from the crowd. He wasn’t there, waiting all day, creating a festive mood with those around him. He was suddenly awoken to the horns’ blast announcing the arrival of the king. He made it to the town square groggy and ill-dressed for the occasion. His personal meeting with the king was worse than embarrassing. What position do you think he was given for the coming year?
We have to prepare ourselves to greet and crown the King of Kings. To explain to Him how amazing we plan to be in the coming year. To accept that certain actions of ours were not entirely correct, but to show that now we are facing the right direction.
May Hashem grant us all a year full of good, and appoint each of us to an exceptional role in His Kingdom.