Rosh Hashana 5765 – Gilayon #359

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Parashat Rosh Hashana



(Shir Ha-Shirim 6:7)


Rabbi Shimon ben Lakish said: Do not say rakateikh [your brow], but rather reikateikh [your empty ones], for even

the empty ones amongst you are full of [fulfilled] commandments as a

pomegranate [is full of seeds].

(Eruvin 19)


Are numerous merits a given, dependent on God's will or on


A person should

make a custom of eating fenugreek, leeks, beets, dates, and pumkin

on Rosh Ha-Shanah. When he eats fenugreek [rubei] he should say: May it be willed that our

merits be multiplied [sheyirbu]…Comment [by

the ReMA]: There are those who eat a sweet apple in honey

(according to the Tur), and they say: Make new for us

a sweet year (according to the Abudraham), and so it

is customary to do.

There are those who

eat pomegranates and say: Let our merits be numerous

like a pomegranate ['s seeds].

(Shulhan Arukh, Orah Hayyim 583, and ReMA)


We Wish a Good

Year to all of our Readers, to the Whole House of Israel,

and to all the Peoples of the World. A Year of Peace and

Tranquility. Let the Past Year end with its Curses, let the New Year

begin with its Blessings, and Write Us in the Book of Life, for Your Sake,

Living God



The Coronation

of God in the World

Aviad Stolman



the section of the Torah dealing with the holidays, we find: Speak to the

Israelite people thus: In the seventh month, on the first day of the month, you

shall observe complete rest, a sacred occasion commemorated with loud blasts [zihron teruah] (VaYikra 23:24). Apparently, the words zihron teruah offered

the context in which the Sages decided to commemorate the shofar

blasts of Zikhronot and Shofarot

in the Mussaf service of Rosh Ha-Shanah (Mishnah Rosh Ha-Shanah 4:5-6).

To these two items, which are explicitly pointed to by Scripture, the Sages

decided to add a commemoration of Malkhiyot; a

ruling which the Tannaim themselves queried: "But

we have not heard of Malkhut [kingship, in

connection with Mussaf]" (Sifrei Bamidbar 77, pg. 71 in the

Horowitz edition). Researchers

have pointed to the Sages' establishment of the Malkhiyot

as evidence for the theory that the coronation of God on Rosh Ha-Shanah is a fundamental and very ancient theme. (see: Y. S. Licht, Moadei Yisrael, Jerusalem, 5648, pp.



study of the liturgy reveals that these three elements do not express three

independent and unconnected ideas. On the contrary; it seems that the three

together express the hope and petition for a future in which all will recognize

God's kingship. The verses of the Malkhiyot

praise God for His sovereignty over the world and its revelation in the future.

The Zikhronot recall the covenant that God

made with us, and the covenant He shall fulfill in the future. The Shofarot recall the unique sound of the shofar, which symbolizes the feeling of majesty associated

with God's revelation, past and future. These are joined by other expressions

in the Rosh Ha-Shanah liturgy, such as, Ve-Ten Pakhdeha ("And

make yourself feared"), Aleinu Le'Shabeiyakh ("We are to praise"), and the

conclusions of the benedictions, such as "King over all the Earth,

sanctifier of Israel and the Day of Remembrance" to express the day's

central theme as developed by the Sages: the coronation of God as King of the



make mention of God's sovereignty over the world dozens of times a day; not

only in the Shema, but also in Birkot

Ha-Shahar, at the end of each prayer, and in every

single benediction. However, Rosh Ha-Shanah is a

special day, devoted entirely to the coronation of God as King of the world. Although

we recall the Exodus from Egypt every day, we still set aside

one special night each year to its commemoration. Similarly, there is one

particular day which is especially devoted to God's kingship over the world. Yeshayahu Leibowitz used to

emphasize that Ve-Ten Pakhdeha

and Aleinu Le'Shabeiyakh

are the central prayers of Rosh Ha-Shanah, and they "epitomize

in a supreme fashion man's consciousness of the kingdom of heaven and the

acceptance of the yoke of the kingdom of heaven, while looking forward to

universal recognition of the kingdom of heaven. All of this is without

connection to a man's personal problems, his natural needs, or even to the

specific problems of the Jewish People." In characteristic style, he adds,

"I will not even say a single word about the religious folklore embodied

in Unetaneh Tokef,

which many, lacking sophistication, see as the principal element of Rosh Ha-Shanah" (He'arot

le'parashat ha'shavua, Jerusalem, 5648, pg.



is possible to divide the Jewish holidays into two categories: one contains the

"universal" holidays, such as Rosh Ha-Shanah

and Sukkot, which relate in some degree to all of

humanity, the other contains the "particularistic" holidays, such as

Yom Kippur and Pesah, which relate solely to the

Jewish People. The existence of these two categories points

to the dialectical tension between universalism and particularism

that has exited in Judaism since its inception (see

Moshe Wienfeld's article, "Ha-Migamah ha-universalistit veha-megamah ha-badlanit be tkufat shivat Tzion").

Due to a wide variety of reasons – our long exile foremost amongst them – the

voices of particularism have usually carried the day,

and throughout the millennia the Jews have been concerned mostly with

themselves. When they were not forced to participate in staged debates, they preferred

to avoid "missionary" activities aimed at convincing gentiles to

convert or simply believe in one God.


may find evidence for this process in the changing formulations by which a certain

statement made by Rabbi Akiva has been quoted down

through history. It began as an expression of God's kingship over all His

creations, but later went through a particularistic reformulation, which

emphasizes the importance of God's reigning over the Jewish People:


said before him Malkhiyot, Zikhronot,

and Shofarot: Malkhiyot,

that you should set Him over them as a king [in the Arport

manuscript: that you should set Him as a king over all his works, in the London

manuscript: that you should set Him as a king over the works of His hands]; Zikhronot, so that your memory will be brought

before Him for good; Shofarot, so that your

prayers will ascend in the blast of the teruah

before Him. (Tosefta Rosh Ha-Shanah 1:12,

Lieberman edition, pg. 308)


Akiva insisted that the kingship was "over them,"

or, as is attested by the variant readings: "over all his works" or "over

the works of His hands." However, in the first printed edition of the Tosefta, we find: "so that you might set Me as King over you." This late version seems

to have been influenced by the Babylonian Talmud (Rosh Ha-Shanah

16a): "so that

you might set Me as King over you." The Talmudic passage

gives the statement an entirely different meaning, whose purpose is to explain

why Malkhiyot are said first, similar to the

famous answer given by the Mishnah (Berakhot 2:2)


Tosefta KiFeshuta, vol. 4, pp. 1024-5)


today, after we have been graced with the founding of he State of Israel, and

many of the Diaspora's residues have disappeared, we remain unconcerned with

changing the religious beliefs of other peoples. Are we really interested in

replacing the Shinto-Buddhist idolatry of the Japanese? Do we want the Indians

to reject pagan Hinduism? Since the monotheistic religions have caused us so

much suffering over the generations, it seems to have even become difficult to

identify with the censured passage from RaMBaM's Laws

of Kings (chapter



these matters relating to Jesus of Nazareth and the Ishmaelite (Mohammed) who

came after him, only served to clear the way for King Messiah, to prepare the

whole world to worship God with one accord, as it is written, for then will

I turn to the peoples a pure language, that they may all call upon the name of

the Lord to serve Him with one consent (Zefaniah

3:9). (From Twersky's A Maimonides Reader,

pp. 226-7)


post-modern mood has reinforced isolationism, since many of us find no room for

changing or influencing each others opinions, much less the opinions of

gentiles. When, on Rosh Ha-Shanah we say, "And

so make Yourself feared by you have made, and dreaded by all You created, all

that were made will be in awe of You, and all creatures will bow down before

you, and they will form one band to do your will" – will we really mean it

"with a complete heart"? Would we not rather have our Arab cousins

forget about monotheistic Islam and become atheists? I think that this

question, i.e., whether and how we should aspire to having God reign over the

world, should be a subject of intense interest in our circles, especially in

the period leading up to Rosh Ha-Shanah, when we

devote so much time to that theme.


course there will be those who will say that we must first attend to our own

spirituality before trying to change the world. It is told of one of Rabbi Yisrael Salanter's students that

he wished to leave Latvia and to travel to Berlin, in order to spread the message

of the Mussar Movement there. Rabbi Yisrael asked him: "Have you already reformed all of Latvia? Have you already reached

everyone in your neighborhood? And what of your immediate family – are they all

involved with mussar? Have you succeeded in reforming

your own character in accordance with mussar? Why,

then, are you going to far-away Berlin?" The moral of the story

is clear. If its words are acceded to, could we completely neglect all

involvement with setting up God as King over the world?


cannot offer an answer to the puzzle I have brought up, but I would like to

derive something from the texts of the Rosh ha-Shanah

liturgy regarding the manner in which the hoped-for change of heart of the

nations will take place. On Rosh Ha-Shanah, the principle

part of our request is positive, rather than negative: "Reign over all the

world in your glory, stand elevated over the whole earth in your excellence!…And every effect will recognize You as its Cause, and

every created thing will understand that you are its Creator." In Rosh Ha-Shanah, we do not pray for God to exterminate the wicked,

but rather that God should put an end to wickedness. We will walk in footsteps

of Bruriah, who said to Rabbi Meir:

We do not ask for the wicked to die, but that wickedness shall end; we do not

ask for the sinners to die, but for sinning to end (see Berakhot 10a).


ability of every person to repent is one expression of the revelation of God's

kingship. In Pesikta De-Rav Kahana (24:7. Mandlebaum

edition, pg. 355)

and in parallel sources – we learn that the emissaries and servants of the King

of Kings of Kings do not know this secret – they expect that the wicked person

will die or bring a "sin offering" while the King Himself reveals

that the sinner's remedy is not punishment, but repentance:


asked Wisdom: What is the sinner's punishment? She told them: misfortune

pursues sinners (Mishlei 13:21). They asked Prophecy: What is

the sinner's punishment? She told them: The sinning soul shall die (Ezekiel 18:4). They asked the Torah: What is

the sinner's punishment? She told them: Let him bring a sin-offering and he

shall be atoned. They asked God: What is the sinner's punishment? He told

them: Let him repent and be atoned! Thus it is written: The Lord is good and

upright, etc. (Tehillim 25:8)

And there we find

added in the name of Rabbi Pinhas: "How is He

good in that He is upright? How is He upright in that He is good? Therefore

He shows sinners the way (continuation of 25:8), that He shows sinners the way to repent." May it be

His will that all human beings will merit learning the way to return in

repentance and be convinced of the simple and clear truth that there is a

Creator, a Maker of all.


Aviad Stolman is a doctoral

candidate in the Talmud Department of Bar Ilan




When is a Person Judged?

We learned: All are

judged on Rosh Ha-Shanah and their sentences are

signed on Yom Kippur – the words of Rabbi Meir.

Rabbi Yehudah says: All are judged on Rosh Ha-Shanah,

and their sentences are signed each in its own time: on Pesah,

regarding grain, on Shavuot, regarding fruit of trees, on Sukkot,

regarding water. People are judged on Rosh Ha-Shanah,

and their sentences are signed on Yom Kippur.

Rabbi Yosi says: People are judged every day, for it is said, you

inspect him every morning (Job 7:18).

Rabbi Natan says: People are judged at every hour, for it is

said, examine him every moment (loc.cit).


Ha-Shanah 16a)



that is the reason why it is unmentioned [in the Torah] that Rosh Ha-Shanah is the day of judgment, so that a person will not

follow the whims of his heart, sinning through all the days of the year,

thinking that He can reform his deeds when he nears the day of the Lord's day,

when He sits on His throne to rend judgment and inspect His account book. As a

result [of leaving the day of judgment a secret], each and every day will be

devoted to repentance, and that is why it is said that "people are judged

every day," for it is said, you inspect him every morning., examine him every moment (Job 7:18).


is why he said, "people are judged every day,"

and not "[God] judges people every day, it is as if man were judging

himself, and it happened automatically…

(Arvei Nahal Parashat



God's World is a World of faith, Justice, Uprightness, and


A faithful God (Devarim 32:4) – Who believed in the world and

created it.

Never false (ibid)

– For people did not come to be evil, but rather to be righteous. And so he

says: God made people upright, but they sought many accountings (Kohelet 7:29).

True and upright is He (Devarim 32:4) – He treats all the world's inhabitants


(Sifrei Ha'azinu 307)


All this is obvious

and clear, for God is a God of truth. It is this idea which is embodied in the

statement of Moses our Teacher, may peace be upon him, the Rock – His work

is whole; for all of His ways are just. He is a God of faithfulness, without

wrong… (Devarim 32:4).

Since the Holy One blessed be He desires justice,

ignoring the bad would be as much of an injustice as ignoring the good. If He

desires justice then He must deal with each man according to his ways and

according to the fruits of his acts, with the most minute discrimination, or

good or for bad. This is what underlies the statement of our Sages of blessed

memory that the verse He is a God of faithfulness, without wrong; He is

righteous and just has application to the righteous as well as to the

wicked. For this is His attribute. He judges everything. He punishes every sin.

There is no escaping. To those who might ask at this point, "Seeing that

whatever the case may be, everything must be subjected to judgment, what

function does the attribute of mercy perform?" the answer is that the

attribute of mercy is certainly the mainstay of the world; for the world could

not exist at all without it. Nevertheless the attribute of justice is not affected.

For on the basis of justice alone it would be dictated that the sinner be punished

immediately upon sinning, without the least delay; that the punishment itself

be a wrathful one, as befits one who rebels against the word of the Creator, blessed

be His Name; and that there be no correction whatsoever for the sin. For in

truth, how can a man straighten what has been made crooked after the commission

of the sin? If a man killed his neighbor; if he committed adultery – how can he

correct this? Can he remove the accomplished fact from actuality?

It is the attribute

of mercy which causes the reverse of the three things we have mentioned. That

is, it provides that the sinner be given time, and not be wiped out as soon as

he sins; that the punishment itself not involve utter destruction; and that the

gift of repentance be given to sinners with absolute loving-kindness, so that

the rooting out of the will which prompted the deed be considered a rooting-out

of the deed itself.

(RaMHaL, Mesilat Yesharim chapter 4, Silverstein translation)


Hearty congratulations to our dear friend, Prof. Uriel Simon, one of

the founders of Oz-Ve'ShalomNetivot

Shalom upon his being awarded the Bialik Prize for Scholarly Achievements in

the Field of Jewish Studies for his book, Bakeish Shalom Ve-Rodfeihu,

and his life's work in Biblical research.




The Editorial Board of "Shabbat Shalom"


The Board of Directors of Oz-Ve'Shalom-Netivot



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