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    On the first day of Rosh HaShana, the haftara
    is the story of Chana, from the Book of
    Shmuel. It is the story of a woman who longed
    for a child, a woman who never gave up on
    her dream of being an aym b’Yisroel, a mother
    within the Jewish nation. It is the story of the
    power of prayer, and the woman who taught
    us how to daven.
    In honor of the Sholosh Regalim, Chana
    would travel together with her husband Elkana
    to the mishkon in Shiloh. Elkana was known
    to take the “long” route, going out of his way,
    in order to convince others to join him. On
    each trip, Elkana would travel a different
    route, giving him the opportunity to reach
    Imagine Chana’s pain, as year after year she
    would see wagonfuls of families making their
    way to Shiloh, while she remained childless.
    Learning from our matriarchs Sara and
    Rochel, after ten years, Chana told Elkana to
    take a second wife, Penina. Their home
    became filled with the sound of children, and
    Chana’s desire for a child of her own

    Elkana and his growing family continued
    making their annual treks to Shiloh, where
    Chana would pour out her heart to HaShem.
    Nineteen years passed. Nineteen years of
    Chana’s longing for a child.
    It was Rosh HaShana, and Chana was once
    again in Shiloh, begging and pleading with
    HaShem to answer her prayers.
    “Va’tivkeh, v’lo socheil, She cried and would
    not eat.” (Shmuel 1:7)
    “And she was feeling bitter (brokenhearted),
    and prayed to HaShem, weeping continuously
    (Ibid. 1:10).
    “Shaarei dima-os lo ninalu, The gates of tears
    are never locked. (Talmud Berachos 32a). It
    was on Rosh HaShana that Chana made the
    tefilla that pierced the Heavenly gates,
    pleading that her dream come true. Rosh
    HaShana, Yom HaZikaron, the day that
    HaShem remembers. “Vayizkarehah HaShem,
    and HaShem remembered her.” (Ibid. 1:19) A
    year later, Chana was blessed with a child. A

    son whom she named Shmuel, “Ki mei-
    HaShem sho-altiv, Because I asked him from

    HaShem.” (Ibid. 1:20)
    On Rosh HaShana we are all Chana. Chana’s
    story is not just about a woman who longed

    for a child, but it is our story.
    Each of us has a prayer in our
    heart. We all have reasons to
    turn to HaShem. For some, like
    Chana, it is a prayer for a child.
    For others, it is for gezunt,
    good health… for ourselves,
    for family members. So many
    prayers. It may be for
    shidduchim, shalom bayis,
    success in raising children,
    help with parnassa, the ability
    to live without financial
    We are living in galus, waiting for Moshiach.
    Hoping for a world of peace and tranquility.
    Who doesn’t have a pain in their heart. On
    Rosh HaShana we humbly turn to HaShem
    with our bakoshos, our requests.
    Chana understood what it meant to really
    daven, and to feel the awesomeness of the day.
    On Yom HaZikaron, just like Chana, we too
    pray that HaShem will remember us, and
    respond favorably to our requests.
    Avinu Malkeinu – Our Father, our King!
    While Rosh HaShana is the day we call out
    HaMelech – The King, the day on which we
    coronate HaShem as our King, it is also the
    day we turn to HaShem as Avinu – our
    Father. A Father we can unload to. A Father
    to whom no request is too trivial, and no
    request is too large. Ask for a miracle –
    nothing is beyond HaShem’s reach.
    On that Rosh HaShana, Chana experienced
    the healing power of prayer. Rabbi Yosef
    Albo, a fifteenth century Jewish philosopher,
    teaches that tefilla doesn’t change HaShem,
    but it changes those who daven. Tefilla
    brings us closer to HaShem.
    When we have meaningful conversations
    with people, we become closer to them. Just
    think of the “silent treatment” as opposed to
    “DMC”. Chana teaches us that one can
    open their heart and connect to HaShem
    Unfortunately, all too often, when we
    daven, we just say words by rote, as if we
    are on auto-pilot. All of a sudden, we are
    finished, and we can’t even remember how
    we got there. We live in a fast-paced world.
    Our mind wanders, and is filled with so
    many distractions. Our lips are moving but
    our head and heart are elsewhere.
    Chana teaches us to really daven.
    “Medaberes al libah, She spoke from her
    heart.” (Ibid. 1:13) Radak explains that this
    refers to Chana’s kavanna, deep
    concentration, and teaches us how vital it is
    for a person to focus on their prayers.
    Avinu – we speak to HaShem like a child to
    a loving parent. Chana proclaims,
    “Vo’eshpoch nafshi lifnei HaShem, I have

    poured out my soul before HaShem.” (Ibid.
    “Rak sefosehah na-os, v’kolah lo yi’shomeiah,
    Only her lips were moving, but her voice was
    not heard.” (Ibid. 1:13) From Chana we learn
    how to daven the Amidah. Not just to read the
    words, but to enunciate them. One should be
    able to hear their words in a soft whisper – not
    a loud voice.
    Chana returned to Shiloh with a prayer of
    gratitude, reciting Shiras Chana, the Song of
    Chana. One of the reasons we read this
    haftarah on Rosh HaShana, is because many
    of the words remind us of the chilling tefilla in
    Musaf following Unesaneh Tokef. “Mi
    yichyeh, mi yomus, Who will live, who will
    die… who will be impoverished and who will
    be enriched…” Chana proclaims “HaShem
    meimiss U’michayeh, HaShem brings death
    and gives life. HaShem impoverishes and
    makes rich, He humbles and He elevates.”
    My father zt”l would relate a chassidic tale of
    two men, Yankel and Dovid, who went to their
    rebbe for a bracha. While waiting for their
    private audience with the rebbe, the two
    became acquainted and shared their stories.
    Each came for the same bracha – the blessing
    of a baby.
    A year later, the two were back. This time,
    however, it was different. Yankel returned
    with his baby, wanting to give the rebbe
    nachas. Dovid returned to receive yet another
    bracha. When Dovid met the rebbe, he gave a
    kvetch, why was Yankel blessed and not he.
    Ah, said the rebbe, when Yankel got the
    bracha, he returned home, and immediately
    purchased a cradle, fixed up a baby room, and
    even bought some schnapps for a simcha. He
    truly believed that the blessing would come
    On Rosh HaShana, we all turn to HaShem for
    brachos. Our job is to daven likes our lives
    depend on it – because it really does, and to
    truly believe that we will merit to see the
    realization of HaShem’s brachos.
    Wishing all my readers a
    K’siva V’Chasima Tova!
    Chaya Sora