Living in the kingdom of God

“Coronating God over the world” is also recognizing that He will never let evil win.

‘WE RECOGNIZE that God is the source of good and abundance.’ (photo credit: PIXABAY)
‘WE RECOGNIZE that God is the source of good and abundance.’
(photo credit: PIXABAY)
On the coming Sunday evening we will celebrate Rosh Hashanah – two days of hag that open the new year in the Hebrew calendar.
The mitzvah that most symbolizes Rosh Hashanah is the blowing of the shofar. Many Jews, also those who are not regulars at their synagogue, make an effort to come and hear the reverberating sounds of the shofar. In honor of this central mitzvah, the Torah calls the holiday “yom terua,” a day of sounding (the shofar).
In addition to blowing the shofar, our sages enacted the special prayers that we say on these days, focusing on the main blessings: Malchuyot, Zichronot and Shofarot. These three prayers accompany the blowing of the shofar and elucidate the spiritual meaning of the shofar for the entire Jewish nation.
The Malchuyot prayer teaches us that the shofar sounds symbolize God’s kingship in the world. As we start this new year, we are coronating God as King of the universe and declaring this by blowing the shofar. In honor of Rosh Hashanah, God once again reveals Himself to the world, and with even greater strength. We enable this revelation when we bring God’s light into our hearts and acknowledge His reign over us. Kingship is a foreign concept to the vast majority of humanity in the 21st century, but the original meaning of the role of kingship was to govern the nation and ensure its welfare. We also recognize that God is the source of good and abundance, love and compassion, and that is the coronation of God over the world.
God’s kingship over the world has additional ramifications. God has values and principles that He champions. “Coronating God over the world” is also recognizing that He will never let evil win. Therefore, Rosh Hashanah is also the Day of Judgment. On this day we conduct self-examination and ensure that we are serving the good in this world and not, Heaven forbid, the evil.
The Zichronot prayer expresses this principle: God judges the entire human race because He is concerned for its well-being and wants it to continue on the right path.
A person can win a trial case, but he can also lose. The loss might be painful, so what should he do? How can one win the trial? We find the answer in the Zichronot prayer:
“Happy is the man who does not forget You, and the son of man who strengthens himself in You. For those who seek You shall never stumble, and those who trust in You shall never be put to shame” (from the Mussaf Prayer for Rosh Hashanah).
Our response as believing Jews is trust. We remember and know the goodness provided by God, the covenant that he made with the people of Israel, and in the name of this covenant we celebrate the beginning of the New Year.
In the halachic work Arba’a Turim, authored by the most prominent halachic authority of the 14th century, Rabbi Ya’acov Ben Asher (Germany 1269-Spain 1343) he describes the preparations for Rosh Hashanah with wonderment:
“No other nation is like that nation that knows the nature of its God!... The way of the world is that a person wears black and covers himself in black when he is going to stand trial... because he does not know what the result of his case will be. But Israel is not like that. They wear white and cover themselves in white... and eat and drink and are happy on Rosh Hashanah because they know that the Holy One, blessed be He, will make a miracle for them” (Arba’ah Turim, Orah Haim, 581).
We believe that God judges the entire humanity on Rosh Hashanah, and as great as our identification with the Divine purpose, so is the greatness of our trust that we will win the trial and be inscribed for a good and happy year.
Rosh Hashanah is the opportunity of each and every one of us to choose good, the way of God; to recognize his goodness and his kingship; and to trust in Him.
We pray and anticipate that the new year will bring an abundance of light and happiness, truth and justice, compassion and benevolence to this world. May this year be the year when we stay faithful to the truth and the good. May this year be a good and sweet year, a blessed year full of love, and may we merit to see the complete redemption in our times.
The writer is rabbi of the Western Wall and the holy sites.