Awe and Joy
With a sense of awe and joy should we approach the days of repentance, the days where we will stand before Hashem our God, in whose hand rests the soul of every living creature, to receive from Him life for the coming year.
Knowing that the blessing God grants us for the New Year is dependent on our actions, we are filled with tremendous awe — for who knows what will be in the end? Maybe, in spite of all the goods deeds we performed – compared to what we should have done, we were negligent in our task. Perhaps we busied ourselves with insignificant matters, while abandoning our main obligations. For behold, the blessing of the New Year is dependent on our actions, and who can be justified before Him in judgment?
Together with this, however, there also exists an inner happiness by way of this renewed, yearly standing before Hashem. It awakens us to repent, and there is no deeper, inner joy than returning and connecting with our pure souls. Thank God that we have merited to reach these days of mercy and forgiveness, where we can stand before Him, contemplating the course of our lives with a broad view, and ask Him to help us reorganize our lives in a more correct and balanced way. Thus, we can also request that He remove our sins and offenses from His sight, so that we can serve Him with a whole heart. This is repentance from love — returning to the good for the sake of good, and not out of a fear of punishment.
We are guaranteed that if we carry out a true self-examination, if we remember all of our good ambitions, and think how we can fulfill them in the coming year, we will merit true repentance which will be accepted before Hashem. Thus, we will also merit a good life in the coming year.
The Day of Crowning God and the Great Prayers
In spite of the fact that the two days of Rosh Hashana are the start of the Ten Days of Repentance, on Rosh Hashana itself, we do not confess our sins; rather, we are engaged in the most basic fundamentals of faith – the Creation of the world, God’s providence over all His creatures, and the prayers calling for the revelation of His kingship in the world, and that all the evil and wicked monarchies should be eliminated like smoke.
Thus, we are elevated through these great prayers that in the coming year more and more Jews will be engrossed in Torah, its’ immense light spreading to all of Israel. We will merit the continuation of the Ingathering of the Exiles, settling of the Land, establishment and enlargement of families, and greater love between people. Our society will be established upon law and justice according to the instructions of the Torah, and we will merit sanctifying God’s name in the eyes of the nations. In light of this, we will continue during the remaining days of the Ten Days of Repentance and Yom Kippur to clarify those sins and offenses which require individual repentance and rectification.
On Rosh Hashana, God creates life of the New Year, and we pray before our Father in Heaven that He remember us for life, and inscribe us in the Book of Life. Consequently, there is room for each and every Jew to contemplate how he himself can add life in the New Year. How one can learn more Torah, for the Torah is called ‘chayim’, or life. How one can add more charity and kindness which are also called ‘chayim’. How one can add to settling the Land, for the Land of Israel is also called the ‘Land of the Living’. And how one can add to the mitzvah of being fruitful and multiplying, which, to a certain extent, is the mitzvah which best expresses man’s partnership in the addition of life in the world.