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The Marvelous Segula for Rosh Hashana: Be Part of the Tzibbur!

Based on a talk by Rav Pam, zt"l. Rosh Hashana is the Day of Judgment. The Beis Din Shel Maala sits and scrutinizes everyone and judges him for the coming year. We would expect to find the tefillos of Rosh Hashana filled with pleading for a good verdict. Hashem, please give me parnassa, children, health, happiness, etc. Instead, when we study the Shemone Esre of Rosh Hashana we find no mention of this. Instead the tefillos concentrate on spreading Hashem's Kavod. Let everyone know that Hashem is king. If we take a lead from the tefillos we can infer a very important clue to what we should be davening for and concentrating on during Rosh Hashana.

There is a Zohar which helps clarify this. In Sefer Melachim II Chap. 4 there is a story about the Navi Elisha. Elisha used to travel around the country. He came to the city of Shunem. There was a prominent woman there, a tzaddekes, who prevailed upon him to eat a meal. Whenever he would pass through Shunem, he would stop there to eat a meal.

This tzaddekes went to her husband and convinced him to build an attack room for the navi. "She said to her husband, Behold now I know that he is a holy man of God, who passes by us regularly. Now let us make a small walled upper chamber, and place there for him a bed, a table, a chair, and a lamp; and it will be that when he comes to us, he will turn into there."

Elisha was indebted to her for her kindness. So he told his servant Gechazi to call the Shunamis. When she came he told Gechazi to tell her, "Please say to her, 'Behold you you have taken all this trouble for us. What can we do for you? Can we speak on your behalf to the king (meaning, the Ribono Shel Olam) or to the general of the army (the highest of the Malachim)?'"

The Shunamis answered very cryptically, "And she said, 'I dwell in the midst of my people.'"

Elisha was determined to pay back her kindness. So he asked Gechazi, what can we do for her? "And Gechazi said, "Indeed, she has no son, and her husband is old."

Now Elisha knew what she needed. So he summoned her, and while she was standing at the doorway, he gave her a bracha. He said, "At this time next year, when you will be alive like now, you will be embracing a son." Wonderful! A bracha from the Tzaddik!

Let us take a moment to study this conversation. The Navi asked her what she needed and all she said was, I don't need anything. Yet when Elisha probed more he found out she didn't have any children! Ribono Shel Olam! What wouldn't a woman do to have children? People go running to the tzaddik to beg him to give them a bracha for children. And here she is, standing in front of the Gadol Hador, a Navi, a holy man, and without her asking he offers to give her any bracha she wants. And all she can answer is, I don't need anything?

The Holy Zohar gives us a glimpse at what was really going on here. This was Rosh Hashana when the King of the Universe sits on his Throne of Glory and judges all His creations. Now is the time to approach Him for all one's needs for the coming year. If not now, when?

But there is a danger. When one's name comes up before the Heavenly Tribunal on Rosh Hashana they scrutinize the person to see if he is truly worthy. It is a very dangerous time.

So the Zohar gives us some advice. "And she said, 'I dwell in the midst of my people.'" Put yourself into the tzibbur. Don't be concerned about your private issues and needs. Worry about the Klal. This is what the Shunamis did, and she was answered with a bracha to have a son.

This is the thrust of the Rosh Hashana tefillos. We don't daven for parnossa, health, happiness, etc. We put our private needs behind us. We daven for Klal Yisroel. We daven for Hashem. We daven for the time when everyone will recognize that Hashem is King and Creator. This is the marvelous segula for our Rosh Hashana davening. Our thoughts should not be: what can Hashem do for me this year. Rather, daven that: what can I do for Hashem and Klal Yisroel.

Wishing Everyone a Kesiva v'Chasima Tova!

Rabbi Eliezer Parkoff
Rosh Yeshiva Medrash Chaim
Rabbi Parkoff is author of "Chizuk!" and "Trust Me!" (Feldheim Publishers), and "Mission Possible!" (Israel Book Shop Lakewood). You can access Rav Parkoff's Chizuk Sheets online:
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