“It’s Time for Din Din”
As far as the Torah is concerned, Rosh Hashana is only meant to be celebrated for one day (Parshas Emor, 23:24). However, the Sages added a second day of Rosh Hashana even in Eretz Yisrael (see Rambam, Hilchos Kiddush Hachodesh, chap. 5, Hilchos 7-8 for the standard reason why).
Kabbalistically speaking, there is another reason why it is imperative for there to be two days of Rosh Hashana. The Arizal (Rosh Hashana, Derush Beis; Rabbi Yitzchak Luria, 1534 Jerusalem-1572 Safed) explains this other reason based on the Zohar (Parshas Pinchas, pg. 231b). He says that it is because Hashem judges us with two types of judgements: 1) Dina Kashya (harsh judgement), and 2) Dina Rafya (soft judgement).
On the first day of Rosh Hashana Hashem judges us with Dina Kashya, whereas on the second day of Rosh Hashana Hashem judges us with Dina Rafya. If Rosh Hashana would have remained just a one-day holiday, then the world would have been destroyed because Hashem would have only judged the world with Dina Kashya, and most people would not have been able to withstand that type of harsh judgement.
Therefore, the Sages added a second day of Rosh Hashana so that there would be a place for Hashem to judge us with Dina Rafya. Since most people can withstand Dina Rafya, the world would be able to continue existing.
Reb Chaim Vital (1543 Italy-1620 Syria) in Sha’ar Hakavanos (pg. 90, Divrei Hamaschil “Bechol Aseres Yemei Teshuva”) quotes his Rebbi, the Arizal, who said that those people who can withstand Dina Kashya are judged on the first day of Rosh Hashana, whereas those people who cannot withstand Dina Kashya are judged on the second day of Rosh Hashana with Dina Rafya.
This idea about the two types of judgement will fit into the Mitzva of blowing the shofar on Rosh Hashana (Parshas Emor, 23:24; Parshas Pinchas 29:1).
Rav Huna says that we should blow a shofar from a ram’s horn because it is representative of Akeidas Yitzchak (the binding of Yitzchak) when Avraham Avinu offered a ram on the altar (Meseches Rosh Hashana, chap. 1, “Arba’a Roshei Shanim”, pg. 16a; Parshas Vayeira, 22:13). Let us explore the essence of what Akeidas Yitzchak signified.
The Zohar (Parshas Vayeira, pg. 119b) tells us that Avraham’s approach in serving God was chesed and rachamim (kindness and compassion), whereas Yitzchak’s approach in serving God was gevura and din (strength and harsh judgement).
However, since the world cannot survive if it is judged with strict judgement, Hashem instructed Avraham [the symbol of compassion] to bind Yitzchak [the symbol of harsh judgement] so that din would be subservient to rachamim.
The imagery of Akeidas Yitzchak portrays Yitzchak as Avraham’s prisoner, as it were. This was meant to show us that din (Yitzchak) is to be secondary to rachamim (Avraham). This act of Akeidas Yitzchak would ensure the world’s survival.
The Zohar (Parshas Vayikra, pg. 18a) adds that Akeidas Yitzchak occurred on the first day of Rosh Hashana. Hashem orchestrated it that way because the first day of Rosh Hashana is Dina Kashya and Yitzchak himself embodied Dina Kashya.
Therefore, specifically when there was so much Dina Kashya going on, Hashem instructed Avraham [the epitome of kindness] to bind Yitzchak [the personification of hard judgement] so that Dina Kashya would be reduced to Dina Rafya by being held submissive to Avraham.
Since a shofar from a ram’s horn represents Akeidas Yitzchak, it turns out that the shofar characterizes this idea of subduing din under rachamim.
Therefore, watch what happens when we blow the shofar on both days of Rosh Hashana (Don’t worry, in a few moments we will talk about what happens when the first day of Rosh Hashana falls out on Shabbos and there is no blowing of the Shofar).
The Shvilei Pinchas says that blowing the shofar on the first day of Rosh Hashana reduces Dina Kashya down to Dina Rafya. Shofar blowing on the second day of Rosh Hashana further reduces Dina Rafya down to Rachamim Gemurim (complete compassion).
The Maor Vashemesh (Rabbi Klonymus Kalman Halevi Epstien, Cracow Poland, 1753-1825; Ramazei Rosh Hashana, Divrei Hamaschil “Vayomer”) adds that the first day of Rosh Hashana represents the essence of Yitzchak’s birth. This does not necessarily mean that Yitzchak was born on the first day of Rosh Hashana (see Meseches Rosh Hashana, chap. 1, “Arba’a Roshei Shanim, pgs. 10b-11a for opinions about when Yitzchak was born. According to Rebbi Eliezer, Yitzchak was born in Tishrei, and according to Rebbi Yehoshua, Yitzchak was born in Nissan), rather it means that the first day of Rosh Hashana and Yitzchak share a commonality. Both represent Dina Kashya.
Therefore, on the first day of Rosh Hashana, the Torah reading begins with the words, “And Hashem had remembered Sarah” (Parshas Vayeira, 21:1) which discusses the birth of Yitzchak. It is very fitting to read about Yitzchak’s birth on the first day of Rosh Hashana because they share the same essence namely, Dina Kashya.
However, on the second day of Rosh Hashana, the Torah reading is about Akeidas Yitzchak (Parshas Vayeira, 22:1-24). This is because the second day of Rosh Hashana is Dina Rafya and that is precisely what happened when Avraham [the master of Chesed] bound up Yitzchak [the master of Din]. It reduced Dina Kashya down to Dina Rafya.
Then, the blowing of the Shofar comes along and accomplishes something fantastic. On the first day it reduces Dina Kashya down to Dina Rafya. On the second day it reduces Dina Rafya down to Rachamim Gemurim.
The Shvilei Pinchas says that this is why the Shofar blowing confuses the Satan (Meseches Rosh Hashana, chap. 1, “Arba’a Roshei Shanim”, pg. 16a, Rebbi Yitzchak). It is because the Satan is a prosecuting attorney. In order to prosecute he needs there to be a Beis Din.
However, after the second day of Rosh Hashana, all dinim have been transformed into Rachamim Gemurim. By the end of Rosh Hashana, there are no Batei Din, and there are no dinim. As a result of that, the Satan does not know what to do with himself. There is nowhere to turn to prosecute. He is confused because he does not know where to put himself. Since there is no place for him, he sits beside himself in total confusion because he does not know what to do.
But what happens when the first day of Rosh Hashana falls out on Shabbos? The Mishna (Meseches Rosh Hashana, chap. 4, “Yom Tov”, Mishna 1, pg. 29b) says that in such a case we do not blow the shofar.
The Gemara (ibid, Rabba and Rava) explain that the Sages abolished shofar blowing when the first day of Rosh Hashana falls out on Shabbos because of a concern that a person might carry the shofar four cubits in a public domain without an eiruv and wind up desecrating Shabbos. We paskin this way in the Shulchan Aruch (Orach Chaim, 588:5).
However, the Bnei Yissaschar (Shabbos, 1:6) says that there is also a Kabbalistic reason for not blowing shofar when the first day of Rosh Hashana falls out on Shabbos.
That hidden reason is that one of the primary functions of blowing the shofar is to nullify dinim (as we saw above). However, there is no need for a shofar when the first day of Rosh Hashana that falls out on Shabbos because the Zohar (Parshas Yisro, pg. 88b) says that on Shabbos all dinim are nullified. Since Shabbos accomplishes the shofar’s job, there is no need for the shofar.
There is a hint which supports this idea. The Hebrew word “Shabbos” is numerically 702. The number 702 is the same exact numerical value as the two words, “Kashya – Rafya.” This numerical equivalency teaches us that Shabbos itself nullifies all dinim, both Kashya and Rafya.
There is one more hint which shows us that on Rosh Hashana, all dinim are transformed into rachamim. That hint is found in the “Nesaneh Tokef” prayer (which means, “Now let us relate the power [of this day’s holiness];” found in the repetition of the Mussaf service) which was written by Rabbi Amnon (Mainz Germany, 11th century).
This liturgical passage begins by describing to us the various dinim that we are all judged by, commencing on Rosh Hashana when it is written down, and concluding on Yom Kippur when it is sealed.
Then, Rabbi Amnon goes on to list twenty-six aspects of judgement that people are judged by at this time of year. The list of the twenty-six judgements are:
1. Who will pass away?
2. Who will be created?
3. Who will live?
4. Who will die?
5. Who will die in his predestined time?
6. Who will die before his time?
7. Who will die by water?
8. Who will die by fire?
9. Who will die by sword?
10. Who will die by beast?
11. Who will die by famine?
12. Who will die by thirst?
13. Who will die by storm?
14. Who will die by plague?
15. Who will die by strangulation?
16. Who will die by stoning?
17. Who will rest?
18. Who will wander?
19. Who will live in harmony?
20. Who will be harried?
21. Who will enjoy tranquility?
22. Who will suffer?
23. Who will become impoverished?
24. Who will be enriched?
25. Who will be degraded?
26. Who will be exalted?
The Shvilei Pinchas says that the reason why there are specifically twenty-six different types of judgement on people on Rosh Hashana is because the number twenty-six is the numerical value of God’s Name “Havaya” (spelled: Yud, Hey, Vov, Hey). The Sheim Havaya is the Name of God which is always connected to the side of compassion.
Therefore, the twenty-six types of judgement teach us that all of these dinim will be transformed into Rachamim Gemurim through the mitzvah of blowing the shofar.
Practically speaking, this year, on the first day of Rosh Hashana which falls out on Shabbos, let us try to be even more meticulous with our Shabbos observance than we usually are. If there is one Shabbos a year to me machmir (stringent), it would be this Shabbos.
There are many examples but I will just mention a few. If we normally depend upon the lenient opinions regarding opening packages on Shabbos, this Shabbos let’s try to be stringent and pre-open all of those packages before Shabbos.
If we typically rely upon the opinions that maintain that we can make a cup of coffee in a kli sheini, this Shabbos let us be stringent like the opinions who hold that it would be better to make a cup of coffee in a kli shlishi.
If we characteristically rely upon opinions who say that it is ok to make tea with a tea bag, this Shabbos let us try to be machmir and make tea only with tea sense.
Additionally, let us emphasize our Oneg Shabbos even more so this weekend. Let us try to have special foods for this Shabbos, accompanied with extra Divrei Torah, more Zemiros, and inspirational stories.
In these ways, we will be able to plug into Shabbos even more so. In that zechus, our Shemiras Shabbos will nullify all of the dinim of day one, even the Dina Kashya, so that the verdict will be Rachamim Gemurim.
This year, on the second day of Rosh Hashana when we fulfil the Mitzva of Shofar, let us keep in mind Akeidas Yitzchak and offer up a prayer to God that just as Yitzchak’s din became subservient to Avraham’s chesed, so too may all dinim on this day, even the Dina Rafya, be converted into complete rachamim which will silence the Satan and procure unadulterated mercy for us all.
Furthermore, during the recitation of Nesaneh Tokef, let us pray in our hearts that Hashem use His Sheim Havaya (26) to nullify all of these twenty-six types of dinim that humanity is judged by.
So, may we all be blessed this Rosh Hashana to tap into the Kedusha of Shabbos on day one, and to tap into the power of the shofar on day two, and thus nullify both Dina Kashya and Dina Rafya, and witness how Hashem’s Name Havaya (26) will nullify the twenty-six different types of dinim that humanity is judged by, so that this year will be a far cry from the bitter year that we have just experienced, to the point that our very own ears will behold the great shofar blasts blown by God from the larger right horn of Yitzchak’s ram (Pirkei D’Rebbi Eliezer, chap. 31) heralding the final redemption which will put an end to all of our pain and suffering once and for all.
May you all have a very Good Shabbos, a Kesiva V’chasima Tova