A two-part introduction to Rosh Hashana about facing God on this awesome day.
PART I: The Lion’s Den
A Baal Shem Tov story tells about the fox who was to intercede with the lion, the king of the jungle, on behalf of the other animals. But when he arrived at the lion’s den, he forgot what he was going to say, leaving them to intercede on their own behalf.
This story is a metaphor for the best efforts of the rabbis and the cantors. Their job is only to get us to the “lion’s den” so to speak – to inspire and uplift us so that we have the courage to face the King of Kings. Their job is only to get us to leave our own self-contained domains and embark on a journey toward something far more deeper and real.
Each one of us has a unique and distinct voice – the voice of the soul. We are gathered here on this awesome day to use that voice to speak to God directly. Each one of us – with our own words, with our own soul.
PART II: Judgment Day or Audit Day?
Rosh Hashana is called a day of judgment. But does God really don the black robes of the judge and seek to condemn us?
God created a universe of mortal, imperfect human beings. Does He now demand to know why we are not perfect? Clearly that can’t be. In judging us God does not look for perfection. He doesn’t ask, “Why weren’t you perfect?” He asks us only, “Why weren’t you as much as you could have been?”
Indeed, we should not call Rosh Hashana “judgment day,” but “audit day,” for we are partners with God in making the world a better place, and on this day God examines how we managed His investment in us. Previously, He said to us, “I will be the Investor, but you will stand behind the counter.” Today, He looks over the books. What will we tell him?