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Rosh Hashanah: A National (not Personal) Holiday

We are used to relating to Rosh Hashanah as a day of repentance and atonement; a day of judgment; the day when our fate for the coming year is determined. The Selichot prayers before and after Rosh Hashanah add to the sense of a personal day of judgment, which is obviously true.

But from a simple look at the prayers, we can see that the focal point of the day is in a completely different place. The main thing that we are supposed to be doing on Rosh Hashanah is coronating the Creator as King of the world. This is also the main reason for the central mitzvah of the day. The blowing of the shofar is first and foremost an announcement that the coronation is about to take place.

How did the focal point of Rosh Hashanah turn into something private? The answer is simple: “Due to our sins we have been exiled from our Land and we have become distant from our earth”. Just as the entire Torah has transformed into a religion that hovers above reality, not really a part of it, so Rosh Hashanah no longer expresses our national aspirations. When we lost our sovereignty and we lost Jerusalem; when the royal palace on the Temple Mount was destroyed, the Nation of Israel also lost the possibility to actualize the purpose of its existence: to perfect the world in the Kingdom of Heaven. From a national holiday, Rosh Hashanah morphed into a personal holiday, just as Judaism as a whole became a system of personal reminders outside of reality.

Even now, after we have returned to our Land and after we received the Temple Mount in the Six Days of Miracles, we continue with our private – not national – Rosh Hashanah ritual.

We, however, who have declared our goal to perfect the world in the Kingdom of Heaven and are working toward that goal politically- from within reality – can make the coronation of the King of the world a palpable event.

May we perceive G-d’s rule over the entire world and may we merit a year in which we are favored and loyal tools to make that happen.

Wishing you a sweet and blessed year,

Moshe Feiglin

(Here’s a simple tip: Put a whole pomegranate on your tray of ‘simanim’ for Rosh Hashanah. It is a sign that above the 613 seeds in the pomegranate that represent the commandments, there is a royal crown that is the ultimate purpose of everything and the main focus of the holiday. )

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