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The King and I

By Tzvi Fishman
9/15/2009, 12:00 AM

There are seven days between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. So why is it called the “Ten Days of Repentance?” The answer is that the two days of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur are included in the count. This is obvious regarding Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, which is spent in fasting and confessional prayer. But there is no confession or vidui on Rosh Hashanah. Unlike Yom Kippur, we don’t clop our hearts in sorrow over the long list of our sins. We spend our two days in shul proclaiming the Kingship of G-d over our lives and over the world. So why is Rosh Hashanah considered part of the Ten Days of Repentance (T’shuva)?

The answer is simple. Proclaiming G-d’s Kingship over our lives is the very essence of t’shuva. This is because when a person sins he forgets about G-d.

Remember, G-d is watching you.

For instance, when an Internet watcher clicks on an erotic website, he is ignoring G-d. He is in essence saying, “OK, G-d, you may be King, but not now. Go away for awhile.”

Or he rationalizes by saying, “G-d is King, but He doesn’t bother Himself with little transgressions like this.”

Or he is saying, “King or not, I am going to do what I want.”

In the time that he spends watching forbidden sites, and transgressing the commandment, “Thou shall not stray after your hearts and your eyes,” he rejects G-d’s Kingship and makes himself king instead. He allows his lusts and evil inclination to rule over his life.

Obviously, if a king of flesh and blood were standing by a person’s computer, gazing over his back at what he was watching, the person wouldn’t sin. Now G-d, who is the King of Kings, is there all the time watching. So if we watch things we shouldn’t be watching, we are forgetting Him, or pretending that He isn’t there.

Of course, most people don’t transgress G-d’s commandments willfully in a spirit of open rebellion, but because they give in to their passions and let evil forces rule over them.

So when we proclaim G-d’s Kingship over the world on Rosh Hashanah, we are making atonement for all of the times that we forgot about Him, or conveniently dismissed Him from our lives for an hour or two, so we could follow after our passions and pollute the world that He created with our sins.

May it be His will that this Rosh Hashanah we accept G-d’s Kingship over our lives with a willing heart, and keep His Presence forever before us, recalling that He is ever present, gazing over our shoulders, listening to all of our words, and recording all of our thoughts.     

SPECIAL NOTICE!

On Erev Rosh Hashanah, Friday, Sept. 18, at 12:00 noon Jerusalem time, the "Tikun HaKlali" is being simultaneously recited all over the world. Since the month of Elul and the High Holy Days are propitious times to rectify sexual transgressions, it is a wonderful opportunity to magnify the healing power of this prayer by joining Jews from all over the world.   

Shana Tova!