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    There is a tradition
    that the Ten Days of
    Repentance – the period
    from Rosh Hashanah
    through Yom Kippur
    – correspond to the Ten Commandments.
    Each day of this ten-day period is somehow
    associated with the corresponding
    According to this system, Rosh Hashanah – the
    first two days of the Aseret Yemeh Teshuba –
    corresponds to the commands, “I am Hashem
    your G-d” and “You shall not have any gods
    besides Me.” In other words, Rosh Hashanah
    is associated with the fundamental belief in
    Hashem as the only being who controls the
    This concept dispels a common misconception
    about the holiday of Rosh Hashanah. Many
    people, unfortunately, view Rosh Hashanah
    as a kind of “shopping spree.” They bring to
    the synagogue a mental list of what they need
    for the coming year, and they present this list
    to G-d. Perhaps, they also think a bit about
    how they can improve themselves, but their
    primary focus is what they are asking from
    G-d for the coming year.
    It is easy to prove that this is not what Rosh
    Hashanah is about. We need to look no
    further than the text of the prayer service.
    If Rosh Hashanah is a time to ask for our
    needs, then we should recite the standard

    weekday Amida prayer, in which we ask for
    intelligence, forgiveness, health, livelihood,
    and so on. But none of this appears in the
    Amida of Rosh Hashanah. Instead, our Rosh
    Hashanah prayers focus on the theme of
    Malchut – divine kingship. This is the day
    when we reaffirm our subservience to G-d
    and our recognition of His rule. Monarchs
    would hold a coronation ceremony every year
    to reaffirm their rule. This is what we do on
    Rosh Hashanah: we once again proclaim our
    allegiance to G-d, and we recognize that as we
    are His subjects, He will judge us on the basis
    of our faithfulness. Rosh Hashanah is about
    G-d, not about us. It is a time to renew our
    acceptance of His unlimited rule. Of course,
    we are entitled to also plead for what we need.
    But this is not the essence of Rosh Hashanah.
    This renewal of our acceptance of G-d’s
    kingship includes reinforcing our belief in
    Providence, that He exerts absolute control
    over our lives and the world at large. Nothing
    at all happens unless G-d wanted it to happen.
    The Baal Shem Tob, the founder of the
    Hassidic movement, taught that there is a
    purpose for every leaf that falls from a tree,
    and for why it fell at that precise time and at
    that precise spot. On Rosh Hashanah, the Yom
    Tob of Emuna, we reinforce our faith that G-d
    controls everything that happens, and even
    events that appear harmful are actually for our

    Thus, Rosh Hashanah is not a time for making
    requests; it is a time to reaffirm our belief
    that even when our requests are not granted,
    everything is for the best, because Hashem
    knows far better than we do what we need.
    This perhaps answers a question that one might
    have asked concerning the Torah reading on
    Rosh Hashanah. On the second day of Rosh
    Hashanah, we read the section of Akedat
    Yishak, the story of how Abraham Abinu was
    prepared to offer his beloved son as a sacrifice
    in fulfillment of G-d’s command. However,
    we conclude the reading with a series of
    verses that tell of the birth of children and
    grandchildren to Nahor, Abraham’s brother.
    We might, at first glance, wonder how these
    Pesukim are relevant to Rosh Hashanah. Why
    is it important for us read of Nahor’s children
    and grandchildren on this day?
    The answer, perhaps, is that this section
    essentially completes the test of the Akeda.
    Abraham and Sara finally had a child after
    decades of praying and waiting, and then
    Abraham nearly had to kill him with his
    own hands. Meanwhile, his brother begot
    numerous children and grandchildren without
    any delay or trouble. Abraham devoted his life
    to kindness and to the serve of G-d, whereas
    his brother was an idolater. What more difficult
    test could there possibly be for Abraham than
    seeing his brother succeed and prosper while
    he struggles? The Akeda was certainly a very

    difficult test, but no less difficult was the test
    that came afterward, when, immediately after
    demonstrating his unbridled devotion to G-d,
    Abraham heard about his idolatrous brother’s
    And so this section, too, is vitally important to
    our observance of Rosh Hashanah. It reminds
    us of the need to remain faithfully devoted
    to G-d even if we do not see how it brings
    us blessing and success. Regardless of what
    kind of hardship we are enduring, we must
    continue observing the Torah, trusting that
    Hashem is kind and gracious, and fulfilling
    His will is always beneficial.
    Of course, we hope to be blessed with a
    good, sweet year. But on Rosh Hashanah we
    proclaim that even when our lives are not
    “sweet,” and we face difficult challenges,
    we will nevertheless remain steadfastly
    committed to G-d, knowing that everything
    He does is for the best.