April 20, 2024
Search
Close this search box.
Search
Close this search box.
April 20, 2024
Search
Close this search box.

Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

Uniting to Proclaim Hashem Our King

Someone I know told me that she doesn’t like the lack of assigned seats at many weddings. Nowadays, it’s typical at many weddings to just list table numbers labeled “family of the chosson/kallah” and “friends of the chosson/kallah.” She felt that she did not really have a seat, since she did not have a designated seat. Rosh Hashanah is next week. Most people have already reserved a seat at their shul or yeshiva.

Over the years, I’ve observed that people are very particular about their seat for the Yomim Noraim. Some people travel back to their hometown or yeshiva and want a familiar setting and seat that will maximize their davening. The seat is very important to them. Parshas Nitzavim opens with the words, “Atem nitzavim hayom kulechem—You are all standing today before Hashem.” The Zohar says that “today” refers to Rosh Hashanah. The pasuk lists all types of people: the leaders of the tribes, elders, officers, young children, women and converts. Young and old, rich and poor—every person in the Jewish nation stands in front of Hashem on Rosh Hashanah; no exceptions.

While Rosh Hashanah is frightening to some, it’s a real opportunity! Each and every person gets a private audience with Hashem. But our private meeting only happens if we all come together. Everyone is assembled and each person gets his turn. The Alter of Kelm used to post the following phrase on the entrance of the yeshiva during Elul: “Ein melech belo am—there is no king without a nation.” The Alter wanted to make clear that Rosh Hashanah is a global event. For us to recognize and serve Hashem, it has to be done in the context of each of us being a part of a united nation/group.

There is also a connection between Seder night on Pesach, which signifies the birth of the Jewish nation, to Rosh Hashanah, where we—as a nation—proclaim Hashem as our king. On Seder night, we talk about the four sons: Chacham, rasha, tam and eino yodeia lishol—wise, wicked, simple/pure and doesn’t know how to inquire. Clearly, we emphasize that every child has a place at the table. Further, when we recognize the birth of the Jewish nation on Seder night, we also recognize that it’s Hashem who appointed klal Yisrael to be His nation.

So, what is the nature of our judgment on Rosh Hashanah? Essentially, each person is judged on how much he wants to accept the absolute sovereignty of Hashem in all aspects of his life. One is also judged on how much he desires the kingdom of Hashem to be revealed, and for the entire world to recognize and accept Hashem. The Alter teaches that if we are a splintered nation, then we are not fulfilling the acceptance of Hashem as our king. As we stated, “There is no king without a nation.” We must proclaim Hashem as our king in a unified fashion.

I oversee two different programs for teens who need extra attention and love. Many of them feel estranged and alienated from their families and community. A group of good-hearted people got together—with financial support from community members—to create a place where these teens feel accepted and loved.

Our Yeshiva Ner Boruch/PTI has a motto that, “Every Jew Deserves a Yeshiva.” Anyone who walks in the door is welcomed and made to feel at home. As we approach Rosh Hashanah, let’s make sure everyone has a place: men, women, children, old and young. The opportunities are all around us. At a simcha, we could invite someone to sit next to us, and in shul, we can help a new person find a seat—perhaps, even invite them to sit next to you! If we ensure that other people have a place to worship Hashem, that makes a “place” for Hashem in our lives and helps us all be united. We can then be in a position to approach Hashem on Rosh Hashanah and crown Hashem as king of the Jewish nation.


Rabbi Baruch Bodenheim is the associate rosh yeshiva of Passaic Torah Institute (PTI)/Yeshiva Ner Boruch. Rabbi Bodenheim can be reached at [email protected]. For more info about PTI and its Torah classes, visit www.pti.shulcloud.com

Leave a Comment

Most Popular Articles