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Rosh Hashanah Day Two: Praise and Raise

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Why Not Flatter G-d on Rosh Hashana

When you walk into a courtroom, should you flatter the judge?

If you notice, one item is conspicuously missing from the High Holiday prayer service. On both Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur, we do not recite Hallel – the collection of psalms praising G-d.

Hallel is essentially praise and flattery. Why not flatter the Judge on the Day of Judgment?

According to the Talmud, when the angels asked this question of G-d, He responded that it would not be feasible to sing songs – which is what psalms are – when the Book of Life and the Book of Death is open in judgment.

Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, who passed away this year, was a great tenor, but he resigned from his choral group when he ascended to the Supreme Court. What is the connection, or contradiction, between song and law, between the judge, jury and choir?

Should we be preaching to the choir?

Two brilliant, but very different interpretations of a Talmudic passage, provide us with two practical and invaluable lessons to help us make 5777 (and every year hereafter) the best year ever!

  1. The Berditchever sees it through the prism of love.
  2. The Chatam Sofer sees it through the prism of generations.

With both together, we are well-equipped to tackle the year with song and to guarantee a favorable divine verdict!

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