On both nights of Rosh Hashanah, we customarily eat certain symbolic foods that serve as a good omen for the upcoming year. The details and order of this custom can be found in the Halacha regarding the Order of Rosh Hashanah.
Our Sages, in Masechet Rosh Hashanah (16a), have disclosed an invaluable piece of information to us: Rosh Hashanah, the day Adam Ha’Rishon (the First Man) was created, is the day when Hashem sits and judges all of the creations of the world. Almost every event which will befall every creature during the course of the upcoming year is decreed on this awesome day, the Day of Judgment for all beings.
Clearly, our Sages did not reveal this to us for no reason; rather, they did so because this has great implications for us so that we know to adequately prepare ourselves for these days by repenting for our evil deeds, accepting solid resolutions for the coming year, pleading before Hashem to accept our sincerest prayers, and asking Hashem to grant us a good and blessed new year.
If one were to have to appear before a human king for judgment, one would tremble in fear of the king, even if the king was utterly compassionate. One would certainly promise the king that he will mend and better his ways from now on. When the same individual reappears before the king next year to be judged, the king will almost certainly become angered that this man has not mended his crooked ways yet and he has remained on his previous level. Similarly, regarding us who appear before Hashem, King of all kings, to be judged, although our King is merciful, compassionate, long to anger, and bestows abundant kindness, it nevertheless does not make sense that one promises Hashem every year that he will better his actions and every year one reiterates the same resolutions he had promised to undertake the previous year. On the contrary, this will exacerbate the claim against the person for having the audacity and brazenness to come ask Hashem every year to pity him and grant him a good life while the individual continues going in his wicked ways.
Unfortunately, this situation seems to manifest itself among many individuals, who, when they grow older, look back at the course of their life and see that they never experienced any significant improvement in their service of Hashem and that they have spent their entire life merely “going with the flow” until the day they die. One of the main reasons for this phenomenon is due to a lack of proper contemplation about one’s service of Hashem. Now, as we find ourselves drawing nearer to Rosh Hashanah, every person must probe himself in order to find out where his service of Hashem is incomplete and one must then accept upon himself to mend this area where one is not up to par. One must make sure, however, that this resolution stems from proper contemplation, for if this is the case, even if all of the waves of the world wash over him, one will not relent on his resolution. By doing so, one can truly be considered a “Ba’al Teshuva” (a true penitent), for Heaven shall value his dedicated spirit and his prayers shall be answered willingly by Hashem. Indeed, Hashem tells us, “Open for me an opening the size of a needle (an opening which penetrates through and through and cannot ever become blocked) and I shall open for you an opening the size of a hall!”
On behalf of the “Halacha Yomit” team, we would like to wish all of our members, readership, and the entire Jewish nation that they be inscribed and sealed in the Book of the Righteous and may Hashem fulfill all of your hearts’ wishes for the good. Have a good and blessed new year!
Ketiva Va’Hatima Tova
Tizku Le’Shanim Rabbot Ne’imot Ve’Tovot