The concealed holiday

In Rosh Hashanah, our Sages say, our main Mitzvah is: תמליכוני עליכם: Crown Me,  Hashem, over you’.Why should G-d want man to crown Him?

Danny Ginsbourg ,

crown of Torah
crown of Torah
Mendy Hechtman

In the Musaf prayer on Rosh Hashanah, we say: היום הרת עולם: ‘Today you gave birth to the world’. On that day, the first of Tishrei, the sixth day of creation, מעשה בראשית, man was created, completing the work of Creation.

The commentators ask: What is the meaning of ‘עולם’ (used to mean "world")? They give an intriguing answer: It derives from, and alludes to the same root as, ‘נעלם’: concealed!

Rav Avigdor Nebenzahl expounds:’Our world is called עולם, because Hashem העלים: concealed His presence in it’.

To sweeten this wondrous teaching, David Hamelech, in reference to Rosh Hashanah, says:(Ps’ 81:4)’תקעו בשופר בחודש בכסה ליום חגנו’: ‘Blow the shofar, at the beginning of the month, when the moon is covered, for our Holiday’.

Our Sages explain, darshu:(Rosh Hashanah 11.):’In which of our holidays is the moon covered? On Rosh Hashanah’.

Only Rosh Hashanah falls on the first of the month- when the moon is not visible- all the other holidays,chagim, fall later in the month, when the moon is visible.

Why this concealment on Rosh Hashanah?

Rav Gedalia Schorr provides the first step, to answer this conundrum:’Hashem was known to our three Avot by the appellation of אל ש-די, the Lord Who is enough.

Rashi (Lech Lecha 17:1) comments on the ‘meaning’ of this appellation:’Hashem says: there is די: ‘enough’ of Me in nature, for Me to be discovered by my creations.

Rav Schorr explains:’Hashem created this world, whose essence is ‘concealment’, and in which his supervision, hashgacha, is not readily evident; however, He limited His concealment. so that man could ‘find’ Hashem, by contemplating the world.

‘The work of the Avot was to ‘find’ the presence of Hashem, notwithstanding His concealment. And, as our Sages say: Avraham Avinu, achieved this at the age of three, by asking himself:’Who is the master of this world?, and recognizing, from his study of it, that there had to be a Creator, and master- at which point, Hashem ‘revealed’ Himself, and His mastery, to Avraham’.

The next step is to focus on our ‘task’ on Rosh Hashanah, which, say our Sages:(Rosh Hashanah 16.), is to:’Say before Me מלכיות: the scriptural passages of Kingship, so that you crown Me over you’.

What is the connection between our crowning of Hashem, as our King, on Rosh Hashanah, AND Hashem’s concealment, in this world?

Did not Avraham Avinu already recognize, and proclaim to all, that Hashem was ‘master of Heaven and earth’?

Our Sages provide a beautiful answer, in a Midrash relating to Shirat Hayam, after the miraculous events at the Reed Sea, Yam Suf:’When Bnei Israel sang Shira, at Yam Suf, Hashem said: For these I was waiting, since I created the world!’.

What was unique in this Shira? It was the first time that Hashem was called מלך: King, by man.

And this is why Hashem created the world: so that all would come to accept Him as their King.

The Vilna Gaon adds: There is a basic difference between the titles מלך: King, and מושל: Ruler: the former is accepted willingly by the people, whereas the latter rules by force.

Thus, when Bnei Israel accepted Hashem as their King, we read: מלכותו קבלו עליהם משה ובני ישראל בשמחה רבה: Bnei Israel willingly accepted His kingship, with great joy.

And, on Rosh Hashanah, our Sages say, our main Mitzvah is: תמליכוני עליכם: Crown Me, Hashem, over you’.

Why, since Hashem is ‘complete’ in all aspects, why does He ‘need’ us, to crown him, on Rosh Hashanah?

The simple answer is, as the Midrash says: To be a King, you need to have subjects, a people over whom you rule.

On a deeper level, surely Hashem has no need for honor, and certainly not from man! So why does He ‘seek’ to be accepted as a King?

The answer may be found in the teaching of our Sages:’All that Hashem does, is for the good’.

The Mesilat Yesharim writes, that Hashem created the world, and all in it, so that he could do Chesed- and for this, it was ‘necessary’ to have someone for whom to do chesed- hence, G-d created man.

How does being accepted as our King fulfill the wish of Hashem to do chesed?

Rav Nebenzahl provides a beautiful answer, explaining why Rosh Hashanah precedes Yom Kippur.

We might have thought that Yom Kippur should come first, that we should be cleansed of our transgressions before we are judged on Rosh Hashanah: יום הדין: the Day of Judgement.

Explains Rav Nebenzahl:’By crowning Hashem as King, on Rosh Hashanah, we are able to destroy the whole foundation of our sins, and thereby our sins ‘fall away’.

‘We transgressed because our יצר הרע ‘fooled’ us into thinking that there were ‘forces’ other than Hashem to whom we should ‘listen’.

By crowning Hashem as King- and re-accepting that אין עוד מלבדו: there is ‘nothing else but Him’, we understand that His Will is the only true consideration.

‘Therefore, all the imaginary ‘mitzvot’ which the יצר הרע led us to perform, were founded on a falsehood- and once the foundation of the transgressions falls away, so too the transgressions themselves.

‘This is like the התרת נדרים, when our vows are retrospectively annulled, because the sages show us that the assumption on which we made these vows, was erroneous, and they therefore do not bind us’.

‘Thus’, concludes the Rav:’By commanding us to crown Him as our King on Rosh Hashanah, Hashem is giving us the ultimate chesed: ‘To merit ‘To be remembered for Life’, in the New Year!- because He is מלך חפץ בחיים: The King who ‘desires’ life, to inscribe us ‘in the Book of Life’!

Wishing each and every-one of you, and those near and dear to you, שנת ברכה בכל מעשי ידיכם, ושנזכה לתת נחת לאבינו שבשמים, על כל חסדיו וברכותיו.

Danny Ginsbourg is a retired lawyer who made aliya from Australia a decade ago. He has written five volumes of Torah thoughts in Hebrew,and was awarded the Jerusalem Prize.for the two volume Davsha shel Torah to which there are already several sequels.

לרפואת נועם עליזה בת זהבה רבקה ונחום אלימלך רפאל בן זהבה רבקה, בתוך שאר חולי עמנו.