17 Aug KI-TESE- PUTTING ON THE PINSTRIPES
There is one sports team in America which is much more than just a sports team.
Almost every player who joins this team says the same thing: it’s more than just a team. When you’re part of this team, you’re part of something great. You’re part of something historic. You’re part of something royal.
I refer, of course, to the New York Yankees.
When a player is drafted or acquired by the Yankees, he becomes part of something special. He joins the team of Babe Ruth, Joe DiMaggio, Mickey Mantle, and Derek Jeter. Everyone who becomes part of the team talks about the feeling when they “put on the pinstripes,” becoming part of this legendary franchise.
Le’havdil (without intending to draw an actual comparison), this is what Rosh Hashanah is about.
Day-to-day life, as you all know very well, can be tough. It can be grueling. We all have problems. Some with finances. Some with children. Some with shidduchim. Some with health. Especially during our current period. We all get overwhelmed and pressured.
Throughout the year, we often see only ourselves and our personal struggles. Rosh Hashanah comes and reminds us that we’re part of something so much bigger than ourselves and our personal struggles.
We are part of something grand, historic, and special.
We are part of the “team” of Avraham, Yitzhak and Yaakov, Moshe Rabbenu, King David, the prophets, the Rabbis of the Talmud, and all the great righteous people our nation has produced over the millennia.
The Rambam famously explains the shofar blowing as intended to “wake us up” from our “slumber.” During the year, we can forget why we’re here. We forget what this is all about. We see only our problems and struggles. On Rosh Hashanah, we are “awakened” and reminded that we’re part of something so much greater, so much more important, and so much more valuable.
This solves one of the great mysteries of Rosh Hashanah.
Why can’t we write our own prayer text for Rosh Hashanah? Why don’t we each come to the synagogue with our own list of things that we need for the new year? Would praying on Rosh Hashanah be so much easier that way? Why did the Rabbis institute a prayer text for us to recite – one which speaks at length about G-d’s being king over the world, and which speaks of past events?
The answer is that this is precisely the point of Rosh Hashanah – to remind us that life is so much more significant than our little or not-so-little problems. We wear the “pinstripes”! We are part of something great! We are part of a special nation, with a glorious history, and we are here to work together to serve Hashem.
The Gemara teaches that the sounding of the shofar brings to mind the great merit of קחצי†תדיקע, when Avraham Avinu was prepared to make the ultimate sacrifice – to sacrifice his son. When Hashem told him not to sacrifice Yitzhak, Avraham sacrificed a ram, instead. The shofar, which comes from a ram, brings to mind this great act.
On Rosh Hashanah we connect with Avraham Avinu, and with all the great Jews who made incredible sacrifices for Hashem. We connect with our grandparents who came to this country and made great sacrifices to build Jewish schools and synagogues. We connect with the immigrants who risked their jobs to observe Shabbat. We connect with all the families in our community and throughout the Jewish world today, who make great sacrifices to fulfill the mitzvot and to provide their children with a Torah education.
This is what Rosh Hashanah is – the time to rise above ourselves and our problems, and to remember that our purpose is so much greater, that we are part of a special nation that is here in this world to do special things.
As we prepare for Rosh Hashanah during the coming weeks, let us begin reflecting on the greater purpose for which we are here, to think not only of our personal wishes for the coming year, but of the ambitious goals that we should be setting for ourselves as part of this glorious nation.