Rosh Hashana: Show Your Patriotism!
A King is only a King if he has subjects.
Rosh Hashanah is the day that every single person in the world is judged. God decrees everything that will transpire in the coming year until the next Rosh Hashanah based on this judgement. In addition, as Jews, this is a day which is dedicated to “making God our King,” as the Talmud says (Rosh Hashanah 34b), “God said, ‘Recite before Me verses of kingship in order that you should make Me the King over you.'” This is a special opportunity which God has granted us on this day. By reinforcing our commitment as God’s servants, we will merit a favorable judgment for the coming year. How is it that one “makes God his King?” Should we get together and sign a declaration of our subservience to Him? What concrete steps can one take to accomplish such an awesome task?
Fortunately, we have some guidance about the matter from the Talmud Torah (the Torah academy) of Kelm. In the days leading up to Rosh Hashanah, there used to be a sign hung in this institution that read as follows (see Chochmo Umussar, vol. 2 ma’amar 152): “The element that sustains any kingdom, is the unity between the subjects in serving the king… This is the primary way of making God our King. For His servants to join together and commit themselves to loving one another.” By embracing an attitude of loyalty to the Jewish nation, we demonstrate to God that we are ‘one of His people;’ that we feel a sense of belonging and responsibility to His kingdom.
Here we have revealed to us one of the greatest and most practical ways of “making God our King.” It is a matter of sincere commitment to loving our fellow Jews, who are the nation of God, and to care for our people with respect and dignity.
Rabbi Yosef Y. was once at the township hall attending to some business, when he heard a commotion going on from the police department. Rabbi Y. saw a distraught Jew standing near the policemen and proceeded to ask him what the matter was. The fellow related his story how he was pulled over and the police had found on his record a long forgotten, unpaid traffic violation. If he did not pay the $300 he owed right away, he would be arrested, and he did not have funds available to make the payment. Upon hearing this, Rabbi Y. pulled out the money and paid for him on the spot. The police officer who had witnessed what had just taken place asked Rabbi Y., “Do you know this man?”
Without missing a beat, Rabbi Y. responded, “He’s my brother.”
“He’s your brother?” asked the surprised policeman.
“Truthfully, I never met this man before,” said Rabbi Y., “but yes, he’s my
brother; all Jews are brothers.”
This is how we can pledge allegiance to God on Rosh Hashanah. By being attentive to our fellow man and being proactive about helping each other out, we demonstrate to God how much we really care about His people. The more we care for others, the more we are involved in supporting the kingship of God in this world. If we step up our kindliness towards our fellow Jews, and act in a way that shows God that His people are our people, we surely will merit favorable judgment on Rosh Hashanah for the entire year.
Parshas Ki Seitzei 5779/2019
firstname.lastname@example.org by Rabbi Yitzchok Aryeh Strimber