“The malachim asked Hashem, “Why is it that the Jewish nation doesn’t sing Hallel on Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur?” Hashem answered them, “Is it possible that a king sits on the throne of judgment, with the books of life and death open in front of Him, and the Jewish nation should sing?” – Rosh Hashanah 32
Malachim (angels) see with a brilliant, piercing clarity. Having no physical limitations or impediments, they perceive reality to an extent we mortals can only dream about. So, then, why did the malachim contend that the Jewish people should say Hallel on Rosh Hashanah? Isn’t obvious that the solemnity of the day makes it inappropriate to sing? What was the perspective of the malachim, and what did Hashem make clear to them?
The answer to this is based on a deeper understanding of Rosh Hashanah. The Mishnah tells us that on Rosh Hashanah “Every occupant of the planet stands in front of Hashem and is judged.” Small or great, young or old, from the most prestigious to the most simple, every human being is examined, and his fate for the coming year is decided.
But it isn’t just individual lives that are examined. Global issues are also weighed, measured, and determined. Which nation will go to war? Which will enjoy peace? Which lands will experience prosperity and success? Which will suffer? Which new technologies will be brought to the marketplace? Which cures will be discovered? Which diseases will suddenly appear? Which epidemics will spread? All the issues of the coming year are reviewed, assessed, and arbitrated.
There are many issues that affect the occupants of this planet. The entire globe is one multi-dimensional chess game, and Hashem, the Ultimate Grand Master, maps out the moves of the year to come.
We Jews are servants of Hashem. He is our King. During the course of the year we suffer through the insolence, audacity, and arrogance of a world that denies His sovereignty. This causes us pain and angst. During this time of year, however, we revel in the fact that Hashem sits as Judge – He alone metes out the fate of mankind. And so we should feel a tremendous sense of joy, an outpouring of emotion, as we contemplate the magnificence of our Creator in His glory.
That is the position of the malachim. From their lucid perspective, they see something missing. We wear Yom Tov clothing, we eat festive meals, and we bathe and shave in honor of the day. But, where is the singing out in joy? Hallel should be a part of the davening. Yet it is noticeably absent. Why? If we understand the magnitude of this day, if we envision Hashem sitting on the throne of judgment, we should be overcome with a sense of jubilation and wish to sing Hallel.
Hashem answers the malachim, “On a global level it is magnificent, but the judgment is on a personal level as well. Each person must recognize that ‘My fate for the coming year is being decided. The fate of my family, and my community, is being decided. The human race is judged, and I too am human. And so it is inappropriate to sing on such a day.”
However, both emotions should be present during this day. Great simcha as we experience Hashem’s closeness, tempered with the awe that comes from understanding that our future and the future of all that is dear to us is being decided.
May Hashem grant us a sweet, good year with health, happiness, and success in all our endeavors.