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3 Segulos for Rosh HashanaAdapted from Me'Imrei Shlomo, by Rav Shlomo Harkavi, Mashgiach of Grodno in prewar Europe, and rebbe of Moreinu Hamashgiach Rav Zeidel Epstein, zt"l.
The World Is Based On Din
A fundamental principle of our faith is that nothing in the world truly has an existence except the Ribono Shel Olam. This is what we say in Adon Olam. אדון עולם אשר מלך בטרם כל יציר נברא... ואחרי ככלות הכל לבדו ימלוך נורא.
Eternal master, who reigned supreme, before all of creation was drawn; … When this our world shall be no more, in majesty He still shall reign.
Only the Creator of the Universe really exists. He is the creator, He is the makom of the Universe, and He sustains everything. Without Him there is nothing. All this was before He created the Universe. However, once He decided to create the Universe it "went up in His mind" to create it with the middah of Din. Now we must understand that this concept "it went up on His mind…" does not mean the same thing as it does by a person. First, we get a notion to do something, and then we go ahead and do it. The thought that preceded the action has nothing to do with the action except for merely preceding and preparing the groundwork for it. But regarding the Creation, the thought that preceded it is actually the beginning of Creation. Everything that came afterwards emanated from this thought of Middas HaDin. The entire Creation is based on the foundation of Middas HaDin.
But the Creation had to continue taking form as it went through the sequences of developing into reality until it finally took the final form that was the completion of the will of the Creator. In this final form, He combined Middas HaRachamim together with Middas HaDin. Basically, however, everything is built on that first foundation of Middas HaDin.
This concept of Middas HaDin thereafter became the underlying reality of everything that came afterwards. Just like we explained above that only the Ribono Shel Olam is true reality, so too, after the Creation, Middas HaDin is the true reality. This is why justice is such a basic principle in the world. It has a reality akin to that of the Ribono Shel Olam Himself (כי המשפט לאלקים הוא - דברים א:יז). Everything in the universe must be consistent with mishpat. And so the Mesilas Yesharim explains (in chap. 4) that even though the world was created with Middas Harachamim, however, if it isn't consistent with Middas HaDin, the entire basis of the universe is corrupted. Everything must fit in to Middas HaDin.
Rav Moshe Chaim Luzzato, in Derech Hashem (7:4) explains that time is not a mere random occurrence. It is an intrinsic component of the makeup of reality. When the right time arrives, it arouses the potential contained within it to take form. Moreover, time is a cycle. When the cycle of time returns to its original point, all the forces and potentials lying within that time realize themselves again. This is true of Pesach, Shavuos and Succos. These time periods are real and the spiritual forces lying within come to the fore at these periods of time.
The first day of Rosh Hashana was the time when Hashem judged Adam HaRishon. The concept of Judgment became engraved in that time and repeats itself each year.
The Maharal (Derech HaChaim 4:22) writes that during these days of Judgment, Hashem becomes close to this world. These are the 10 Days of Repentance between Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur. Hashem is close and this is the time to call out to Him. You can actually feel Him and touch Him. We don't sing Hallel on Rosh Hashana because it is a time of Din when the Books of Life and Death are open before Him. The reality of the day is a time of Din.
Hashem Wants Us To Win
But the desire of Hashem is that His creation should successfully pass through this process of Judgment. Hakadosh Baruch Hu said, I won over the generation of the Flood, and I lost the entire world. But Moshe won against me, and I gained. (Pesikta). Hakadosh Baruch Hu's greatest delight is when we win, because then He gains. This is the symbolism of the lulav; it is the staff of victory over the Heavenly court.
We see that there is an intrinsic essence in this day of Rosh Hashana that arouses mishpat and din. So too has Hakadosh Baruch Hu given over to Klal Yisroel all sorts of strategies to win our court case, even though we may not be really worthy. This is the segula of Shofar. The shofar blast has within it a special segula to turn Middas HaDin into Middas HaRachamim, and so the Torah commanded us to blow the Shofar on Rosh Hashana to help us win the trial. There are other segulos which can help us get through the Yom HaDin.
Accept Hashem as King
1) The gemara in Rosh Hashana (15a) sets forward the basis for the Rosh Hashana Mussaf tefilla: "Recite before me the statements of Coronation (Malchios) in order to make Me King over you. And the statements of Remembrance (Zichronos) in order that your remembrance should arise before me for good. And how is this all to be done? With a Shofar."
Obviously Chazal are not talking about one whose merits outnumber his sins; he doesn't need all this to win the trial. So it must be that Chazal are talking about someone whose sins outweigh his merits. Even so, if he follows this advice, his remembrance comes before the Heavenly Tribunal for good and he can win the din on Rosh Hashana. If he accepts Hashem as King, and from now on he accepts to be subservient to his Maker, then even though he has not yet corrected the past and is full of aveiros, even so, through sincerely stating the Malchios and blowing the Shofar he comes out victorious.
The Midrash (Vayikra Raba 29:3) states, "Fortunate is the people that know the blasting of the shofar; O Lord, may they walk in the light of Your countenance." (Tehillim 89). But don't all the peoples know how to blow a musical instrument even better than Yisroel? Therefore the meaning of this possuk must be that, Happy is the people that know how to appease their Creator with the Shofar blast. Then, "they walk in the light of Your countenance." There is such a power that Hashem gave to Klal Yisroel to win their trial and bring them close to Him. If they blow the Shofar and recite (sincerely) the psukim of Malchios, they will merit a closeness of walking and basking in His light. This doesn't come because of their merits. It is a special segula of this day. It is Hashem's gift to Klal Yisroel.
Be Constantly Occupied With Torah and Mussar
2) "Hakadosh Baruch Hu judges Klal Yisroel by day when they are doing mitzvos. But the nations He judges by night when they are sleeping and not doing aveiros" (Yerushalmi Rosh Hashana 1:2, Bereishis Raba 50).
This doesn't make sense. Why does the din change based merely on their present actions now at the time of judgment? Judgment should be determined by an evaluation of the entire spectrum of the actions of the person: merits or aveiros. It seems that this is also a segula of the day. Just like the day itself causes din to emerge in full force, so too does the day bring with it a closeness to Hashem and an opportunity to conquer din. If one occupies himself on Rosh Hashana with mitzvos and good deeds, then even if he doesn't have too many merits, he can win. The nations of the world, at least they can get through the din when they are sleeping and not performing aveiros.
We see from all this that even one who is full of aveiros, but if at the moment of judgment he is involved in mitzvos, it is possible to successfully pass through the din. And also conversely: one who is full of good merits and throughout the year he is constantly involved in mitzvos, however, if at the time of judgment he is sinning, then chas v'shalom he can lose the din! We see how important it is to refrain from any hint of bad doings on Rosh Hashanah. (This is the reason it is so crucial not to get angry on Rosh Hashana.)
Rosh Hashanah is the first of the 10 Days of Teshuva. And one of the basic processes of teshuva is viduy (admitting one's transgressions). But on Rosh Hashanah we find not one statement of viduy. Sin is not alluded to even once. Why did Chazal remove all mention of sin from Rosh Hashanah? In order not to arouse any hint of accusation at all. This day cannot tolerate any mention of wrongdoing, not to speak of actually doing aveiros.
So we can derive from all this that a powerful segula to get through Rosh Hashana is to be constantly occupied with mitzvos. One should prepare some study material relating to Torah or Mussar to learn and ponder upon whenever he is not davening. Even when he is having his Yom Tov meal or walking home from Shul, during these two days of judgment he should be thinking lofty thoughts of Torah and Mussar and not be involved in mundane chatter. His mind should constantly be attached to the Ribono Shel Olam and chas v'shalom he shouldn't be found idle on this holiest and most awesome day of the year.
3) The gemara in Rosh Hashana (16b) states, "Rav Yitzchak said, a year which is poor at the beginning, becomes rich at the end." Rashi explains that when Klal Yisroel humble themselves on Rosh Hashana to utter supplications and tefillos, this causes their success throughout the year.
We can learn from this statement of Chazal that even one who cannot get through the din because he doesn't have sufficient mitzvos and merits in his account, he still has a chance through humility and humbleness. One should make himself poor: he should feel he has nothing of his own. He has no merits, no pretense, and no ability to defend himself. Then he can hope for the mercy of the court. He should weep and pour out his supplications to the Heavenly Tribunal like a beggar standing at the door of the King. This is a very powerful approach on this day when Din is in full force. By making oneself humble on Rosh Hashana one can inherit tremendous riches the rest of the year.
May we all merit being inscribed and sealed in the Book of Life.
Wishing everyone A Gut Gebensht Yahr!
Shema Yisrael Torah Network