We are used to assuming that Rosh Hashanah is a holiday of repentance and atonement, a holiday of judgment, and the holiday when our fate for the coming year is determined. The Selichot prayers before and after Rosh Hashanah add to the sense of personal days of judgment, an obvious truth.
But from a simple look at the prayers, we can see that the focal point of the days is completely different. The main thing that we are supposed to be doing on Rosh Hashanah is crowning the Creator as King of the world. This is also the main reason for the central mitzvah of the day: the blowing of the shofar. That is first and foremost an announcement that the coronation is about to take place.
How did the focal point of Rosh Hashanah turn into something private? The answer is simple: The Torah states, “Due to our sins we have been exiled from our land and we have become distant from our earth.” Just as the entire Torah has transformed into a religion that hovers above reality, not really a part of it, so Rosh Hashanah no longer expresses our national aspirations. When we lost our sovereignty and we lost Jerusalem, when the royal palace on the Temple Mount was destroyed, the nation of Israel also lost the possibility to actualize the purpose of its existence – to perfect the world in the Kingdom of Heaven. From a national holiday, Rosh Hashanah morphed into a personal holiday, just as Judaism as a whole became a system of personal reminders outside of reality.
Even now, after we have returned to our land and after we received the Temple Mount during the Six-Day War (six days of miracles), we continue with our private – not national – Rosh Hashanah ritual.
However, we who have declared our goal to perfect the world in the Kingdom of Heaven and who are working toward that goal politically – from within reality – can make the coronation of the King of the world a palpable event.
May we perceive G-d’s rule over the entire world, and may we merit a year during which we are favored and loyal tools to make that happen.
I wish all of you a sweet and blessed year.