Crowning G-d and His Torah
Crowning G-d and His TorahMendy Hechtman

Our Rabbis instituted that, from Rosh Chodesh Ellul, we recite twice daily, Psalm 27, in which we say:’One thing I ask of Hashem, ONLY this do I seek’.

Is this not also what Hashem ASKS OF US on Rosh Hashanah, as the Gemara states:(Rosh Hashanah 16:)’Says Hakadosh-baruch Hu: Say before me psukim of kingship…so that you crown me over you’?

This is alluded to in the name which the Torah calls Rosh Hashanah:(Pinchas 29:1)’In the sevenrh month, on the first day, there shall be a holy convocation for you. It shall be יום תרועה: a day of shofar blowing for you.’

This clearly brings to mind, the blowing of trumpets which plays such a central role, in the coronation of earthly kings. Comments the Maharsha:’Kingship on earth is מעין: kind of like Kingship Above.’

Rav Ezriel Tauber, commenting on this Gemara, expounds:’We need at the outset to clarify the nature of Rosh Hashanah. Unlike all other festivals, it is a time of giving to Hashem; on all the other festivals, Hashem gives us - and we receive -the blessing of each festival, each person in accordance with his spiritual level.

‘Rosh Hashanah is different: on Rosh Hashanah we do not receive, but give, and Hashem, as it were, receives.

‘David Hamelech called Rosh Hashanah ‘the covered Day’ (Ps. 81:4); we do not see clearly on it our relationship to Hashem, but are required to believe in, and to fulfill Hashem’s request of us:’Crown me over you’.

‘But what could Hashem need of us? He is complete in all respects.

‘Except in being ‘a king’ - as our Sages expound (Yalkut Shimoni):’If the king has no army to command, and no nation, over what is he king?’

‘For this, He ‘needs’ someone who will crown him; true, if not crowned, he will remain a מושל: a ruler, but will not be a מלך: a a ‘king’ - and Hashem wants to be a ‘king’.

‘The critical distinction between a ‘ruler’ and a ‘king’, is in the manner in which the people relate to him. True, a ruler enacts laws, and the people, being compelled, obey them; however, at every opportunity they look for ways to avoid observing the laws that have been thrust upon them.

‘A ‘king’, on the other hand, is as defined by our prayer:’His kingship the people accepted willingly’; they see it as a zechut to serve the king, and their joy increases if they are given further commandments, to serve and honor the king.

‘Hashem created the world, and is master of all in it, and, at His will, is also able to change nature.

‘However, his relationship to the people, is solely in our hands: we choose whether he is a ‘ruler’, OR a ‘king’.

‘This is what He asks each of us, to do on Rosh Hashanah: to choose to crown Him as our ‘king’.

‘WHY does Hashem give us, Bnei Israel, this awesome task? Because of His love for the nation of Israel - she gives us the opportunity to ‘give’ something to Him!’.

Might this be the answer to David Hamelech’s ‘query’ to Hashem:( Ps’ 116:12)’How can I repay Hashem for all His bounty to me’: expounds the Radak:’What repayment, or what offering can I proffer, in teturn for all His chesed to me? It is incumbent on me, to repay them, if I can, ecause Idid not merit them, and they were all by the grace of Hashem to me.’

Rav Tauber might answer:

There is a way in which we can, in a small way, ‘repay’ Hashem - by fulfilling His request, that ‘we crown Him as king over us’, on Rosh Hashanah.

Rav Aryeh Leib Heyman adds: ‘Hashem’s choice of Israel to be His people’ - and, may we add, the people to whom he gave the opportunity to crown Him, as king - ‘originated in the covenant Hashem made with Avraham Avinu, in which He promised (Lech Lecha 17:7-8):’I will establish My covenant as an everlasting covenant between Me and you and your descendants after you for the generations to come, , to be your G-d, and the G-d of your descendants after you.’

‘This is the message each father passes on to his son, on seder night, that our ‘connection’ to Hashem, as His people, started with Avraham Avinu - which is why the Haggadah starts by relating this.

‘Our descent from Avraham Avinu is our zechut to be Hashem’s nation.’

Indeed, our Rabbis included in our morning prayers, our following zechut, before Hashem:

’But אנחנו עמך: we are your people, the chikdren of Your covenant, the children of Avraham, your beloved, to whom you made a promise on Mount Moriah.’

Rav Tauber credited our choice to be the people who merit to crown Hashem, to Hashem’s love of Israel.

Might we add, that this love was ‘in return’ for the love that Avraham Avinu had for Hashem, as the prophet Isaiah stated (42:8):’And you Israel My servant Yaakov whom I chose, the seed of Avraham who loved Me.’

Perhaps this is the reason why our Sages chose, for the Torah resding on Rosh Hashanah, the portion of the Akeida: the binding of Yitzchak, as it revealed Avraham Avinu’s unbounded love for Hashem - as the Midrash relates:’I did not command Avraham to slaughter his son, I said:’Do not raise your hand against him’, and this was only to make known to the nations of the world Avraham’s love for Me, that he did not hold back his son from Me.’

Let us, by your kind leave, offer another understanding, as to why we were chosen to fulfill Hashem’s wish:’Crown Me over you’.

The key is the words our Sages inserted in the Avot Prayer, in the shemoneh-esreh of these Days of Awe:’Remember us for life, O KING WHO DESIRES LIFE, and inscribe us in the Book of Life - for Your sake, O Living G-d.’

Indeed, the Torah adjures us, that Hashem wants us to ‘choose life’,

In Parashat Nitzavim:(30:15-20)’Behold I have set before you today life and good, and death and evil; inasmuch as I command you this day to love the Lord, your G-d, to walk in His ways, and to observe His commandments, His statutes and His ordinances, so that you will live and increase..; This day, I call upon the heaven and the earth as witnesses..I have set before you life and death, the blessing and the curse YOU SHALL CHOOSE LIFE, so that you and your offspring shall live.’

Rabbeinu Yona adduces from this passage, that:’It is a positive Mitzvah to choose life’!

The Ralbag comments on this passage:’It is not appropriate to serve Hashem to receive the rewards the Torah here promises, but rather do so to attain the pleasant ‘life’ that is promised.

‘David hamelech guides us: (Ps’ 112:1)’For His Mitzvot have a great yearning), and not for the material rewards that might ensue from doing so.’

Rav Chaim Friedlander teaches us, what ‘the life’ that Hashem adjures us to choose, is:’The ‘life’ that we ask Hashem to ‘remember us for’, on Rosh Hashanah, is not life in the physical sense, nor even one of performing Mitzvot ‘by rote’; rather, we yearn for ‘real life’, full of meaning in our service of Hashem - ‘for Your sake’ -through the whole-hearted acceptance of His yoke, ensuring before each action that we contemplate taking, that it accords with Hashem’s Will.

‘If we truly wish for this ‘real life’, then Hashem will surely inscribe us ‘in the Book of Life’, by accepting it as our true level - the level of a life that You, our King, ‘want’ for us.

‘By this supplication, we ask that You, Hashem, ‘remember us’ for this life, and assist us to achieve it, for, as our Sages teach:’The one who comes to purify, is assisted from Above’,’

What is the role of ‘crowning Hashem as our king’, in achieving this exalted level?

The answer may be found in the saying of the Mechilta:’You have accepted the yoke of my kingship - now accept the yoke of My Mitzvot.

In the Kriat Shema, in the first perek, we accept עול מלכות שמים:the yoke of Hashem’s kingship; in the second perek, we accept עול המצוות: the yoke of the Mitxvot.

We have, from the sources we have brought, learned that the ‘life’ which Hashem adjures us to choose, is living a ‘real life’, fully accepting to observe all the Mitzvot.

We have also learned, that the compelling reason for observing the Mitzvot, is tthat they were commanded by our king - as we say in the coinage of brachot: Blessed are You, Hashem, KING of the world, who has sanctified us by His Mitzvot, and COMMANDED us...’.

By giving us the zechut to ‘give’ to Him : viz. to crown Him as our king, we are thereby assisting ourselves, to achieve the yearned-for ‘life’: a life of Mitzvot, as, by crowning Hashem as our king, we become - as the Mechilta teaches - bound to observe His Mitzvot, which, as we have brought, is the ‘life’ for which Hashem yearns, AND which will surely lead to us being ‘inscribed in the Book of Life’, on Rosh Hashanah.

לרפואת נועם עליזה בת זהבה רבקה ונחום אלימלך רפאל בן זהבה רבקה, בתוך שאר חולי עמנו, ובברכת שנה טובה ומבורכת, לכל בני עמנו.