For the customary order of the symbolic foods eaten on the nights of Rosh Hashanah, click here.
Rosh Hashanah is the Day of Judgment when all of the creations of the world pass before Hashem Almighty, King of Justice. On this fateful day, anything that is to occur to an individual during this coming year and even in following years is decided. One must therefore must arouse one’s self to repent fully before Hashem and rectify one’s deeds so that one and one’s family may merit being inscribed and sealed in the Book of the Righteous and enjoy a good and sweet new year.
Some think to themselves, “How is it possible to perform Teshuva when this is such a difficult task?”
Regarding the above question, Maran Rabbeinu Ovadia Yosef zt”l once exclaimed that it is told over that Hagaon Rabbeinu Chaim ben Atar (the saintly Ohr Ha’Chaim) was once lecturing on the topic of Teshuva in the Bet Midrash to throngs of people. A non-Torah-observant individual was passing by at that time and asked, “Why are so many people gathered here?” They told him, “Go in and listen!” They made way for this individual and he sat before the saintly Ohr Ha’Chaim as he spoke breathtakingly about the topic of Teshuva.
This individual was so touched by these words that he began to weep. When the sage concluded his sermon and the congregation dispersed, this individual approached the Rav and said, “Honored rabbi! Your words made a tremendous impact on me. I hereby accept upon myself complete Teshuva. However, since this is so difficult, I ask that you pray for me that when I go to sleep tonight, I should not wake up tomorrow morning, for I cannot endure a life of Torah and Mitzvot observance. Therefore, let me at least die innocent and not guilty.”
The venerated sage replied, “G-d-forbid, I will not do this! However, you should know, there was someone in history who requested the same thing as you have. The wicked Bilam stated, ‘Let my soul die the death of the straight and let my end be like his,’ Bilam knew that he could not live the ‘life of the straight’ so he asked only to die as they do!”
“We, on the other hand,” continued the saintly Ohr Ha’Chaim, “are the children of Avraham, Yitzchak, and Yaakov and Hashem promised us that if we open for Him an opening the size of a needle’s head, He shall open for us an opening the size of a banquet hall. Did you realize how much Heavenly assistance is provided to one who wishes to repent? The Sages said, ‘One who comes to purify himself shall be aided by Heaven!’ You are only being asked to make an opening the size of a needle’s head, that’s all. Go study Torah; rise from strength to strength and I will be with you!” The individual took the holy Rav’s advice, repented fully, married a G-d-fearing woman, and raised a wonderful Jewish family.
We must realize that those individuals who were very far from Hashem and His Torah and have since merited to repent fully are extremely beloved by Hashem. For instance, the great Rav Uri Zohar Shlit”a, once steeped in the materialistic world being at the helm of non-religious Israeli culture several decades ago, put forth much effort for a period of time to perform authentic Teshuva. Heaven saw his tremendous self-sacrifice in this area and he was granted the merit of growing tremendously in Torah and fear of G-d amid immense joy and he eventually became one of the greatest symbols of Torah study and service of Hashem in our times. There were many other similar individuals in our times and in previous generations. This is certainly true regarding those individuals who are not completely removed from the Torah and Mitzvot and merely need to correct their ways in that they are guaranteed that if they open an opening the size of a needle’s head, Hashem shall open for them an opening the size of a banquet hall.
We at “Halacha Yomit” would like to wish our members, readership, and the entire Jewish nation a good, sweet, and blessed new year, from the depth of our hearts. May you all merit growing higher and higher in Torah and fear of Heaven and may you be blessed with all of the blessings written in the Torah. May Hashem fulfill all of your hearts’ wishes for the good in order to be able to excel in the service of Hashem.
Tizku Le’Shanim Rabbot Ne’imot Ve’Tovot!