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"Can you see anything?"
"If I stand on tippy-toes I can."
"What do you see?"
"It is magnificent. The king is sitting on his throne in his royal garments. Silk, gold, jewels, everything sparkles."
"Above his head is the royal crown."
"I can see that. It is made of gold, velvet, diamonds, and emeralds. It sparkles like the sun."
"Now they are lowering it onto the king's head. The official Royal Coronation. It is beautiful beyond words."
Rosh Hashanah is the ultimate coronation. Today we crown The Holy One, Blessed Be He, as King over the world. The majesty and pageantry of the royal coronation is expressed in the prayers of the day: "The King Who desires life..." "The Holy King..." Yet, what is really taking place? What has changed, now that "Hashem is King"? The Nesivos Shalom explains that a person must crown Hashem as King upon every limb of his body. Today, every action that I perform, every step that I take, must be according to the word of Hashem. That sounds like a very tall order. How is it possible? "I am sick with love" (Shir HaShirim 2:5). There is an expression called lovesick. A person loves someone so much that he cannot stop thinking about the other one. This is a Jew's relationship with Hashem. We are lovesick over Him. Therefore, every limb of our body does His Will. This is what we can achieve on Rosh Hashanah.
Kinderlach . . .
Today is a glorious day. All of the beauty, pageantry, and splendor of the Royal Coronation is reflected in the tefillos (prayers). Say them with great kavannah (concentration) and joy. Crown Hashem as King over yourself. You are His servant to do His mitzvos, with a love in your heart so strong, that you are lovesick over Him. You cannot stop thinking about Him, and about ways to get close to Him. That is the way to begin the New Year.
The Forgotten Things
The Mussaf prayer of Rosh Hashanah has three special additions - Malchiyos (Coronation), Zichronos (Remembrance), and Shofros. The words of the Zichronos prayer include: "For You are the One Who remembers all of the forgotten things." If He remembers, then He must also be capable of forgetting. Otherwise, remembering would have no significance. Yet forgetfulness is a human failing that does not apply to the Almighty. What does Hashem remember?
Rav Eliyahu Kitov, in the name of an anonymous tsaddik, explains this rather poetically. What man forgets, Hashem remembers. And what man remembers, Hashem forgets. How can it be? If a person commits a sin, forgets about it, and does not do teshuva, Hashem recalls that sin in the judgment of Rosh Hashanah. However, if a person always remembers his sin, does teshuva and is careful not to repeat the sin (as King David writes, "My sins are always in front of me" [Tehillim 51:5]) then Hashem forgets the sin, because teshuva has corrected it.
Regarding mitzvos, the opposite is true: if a person does a mitzvah, and always remembers it because he takes excessive pride in it, Hashem "forgets" that mitzvah. He does not consider it among the person's merits on Yom HaDin (Judgment Day). For Hashem dislikes those who have false pride. However, if a person humbly forgets about a mitzvah, and considers himself as if he did nothing, then the Almighty remembers, and adds this mitzvah to his merits on Rosh Hashanah.
Kinderlach . . .
"Abba, what should I do? I feel terrible." "What's the matter, Chaim?" "Every time I see my friend Shuie I feel bad, because I embarrassed him once, and never apologized." "Chaim, that is wonderful." "Is it wonderful that I embarrassed him? I thought it was a terrible mistake." "It was a terrible mistake. However, it is wonderful that you remember it, and feel badly enough to want to do teshuva. Someone who remembers his shortcomings will always be able to point himself in the right direction. I am sure that you will find the courage to apologize, and that Shuie will forgive you." "Thank you, Abba."
"Chaim, wake up. WAKE UP!"
"What? What happened? Where am I? What am I doing?"
"You were sleep-walking."
"Really? I never did that before. Thank you for waking me up, Avi. I could have really hurt myself. I could have bumped into something sharp, or fallen down."
"Don't mention it, Chaim. Do you know, my Rebbe was just speaking about sleepwalking today."
"Really? What was he saying?"
"He was teaching us about the blowing of the shofar. The Rambam writes that the sound of the shofar wakes us up."
"I don't believe that. Is anyone really sleeping in the Beit HaKinesset when the shofar is blown?"
"He was speaking about the 'sleep' of habit. A person sometimes just does things without thinking because he is accustomed to doing them. He does not stop to evaluate if they are right or wrong, good or bad. He just does them. Then along comes the shofar and says, 'Wake up, WAKE UP!' Think about what you are doing. If you are wrong, correct yourself. Even if you are doing well, but could be doing better, improve yourself. Be the best that you can be!"
"Wow! All of that from the shofar? Now I understand why people cry when the shofar is blown. This Rosh Hashanah, I will listen very carefully. I really want to wake up and be the best that I can."
Kinderlach . . .
The congregation was hushed silent. All eyes were on the shofar blower. He slowly raised the shofar to his lips. "Tekiyah." A long clear note emerged from the ram's horn. People began to cry. "Shevarim." The three notes pierced the people's hearts. They held their breath. "Teru'ah." Note after note after note filled the air. The message was clear. Wake up, Jewish soul. Arouse yourself from your spiritual sleep. Return to Hashem.
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