Rosh HaShanah : Kingship & Nationhood

I walked out of the shul the other Shabbos and saw one of the local girls who recently got engaged walking with her soon-to-be.  Both of them, as expected, were all smiles and googly-eyes, with their bright future ahead of them.

I commented to my neighbor that I was losing my appetite seeing such a thing.  Heck, I can't remember the last time my wife looked at me without her eyes glowing red, yet alone all googly-eyed.

He brushed it off with, "It's only temporary.... when you go to Acco and walk by the beach, you see many couples walking up and down.  And do you know how to tell who is married and who is not?"

I replied, "Of course... the ones who are not married are smiling and the ones that are married ... are not"


So... this should be an interesting couple to observe over the years :)

The central theme of Rosh Hashana is "making" Hashem King over all of creation, and especially over ourselves.


So, why is this important to us?  So, if He's the king and we're the servants … okay … so what?  What relevance is that to us in our lives, other than we still have mitzvos to fulfill?


Each nation is different.  Each kingdom is different.  Each has its own language, its own culture, its own food, its own behavior.  You can tell when an American walks into the room by how loud things suddenly become.  You can feel the room chill when an Englishman walks in.  A terrible odor clouds the room when a Frenchman walks in.  Each nation has its norms which are different than others.  It's more than just traditions, it's a whole way of life.  (As a side note, this is where governments fail miserably in foreign affairs; they assume that other nations think like them and want to be like them, without realizing that other nations have their own norms that they are perfectly happy with.)


And what controls the norms of the nation?  The king (or leader) does.  England still has royalty (albeit limited), yet the nation as a whole still follows "protocols."  And one needs to look no further to how other countries view the United States.  When a Trump is in office, Americans are crazy and unrestrained.  When a Biden is in office, Americans are weak and cannot be trusted to help protect others.  Yes, the President on an individual level makes decisions, but it reflects that of his nation as a whole as well.


This Kingship which we "bestow" on Hashem is not about simple traditions.  It's not about how much Torah one learns or how stringent one is with their mitzvos.  That might be another aspect of Judaism, but that is not what Kingship and Rosh Hashanah is about.  Kingship is about a way of life. 


Somebody who is proud to be an American, for example, might join the military as if to say, "this is what I believe in and I'm willing to live and die for it."  They take their Fourth of July seriously.  They vote in every election, and they might participate in government affairs.  Somebody who is so dedicated to his country, makes his country his life.


Similarly, when one makes Hashem King, one is saying, "I want Hashem to rule over my nation.  I want Hashem to be the heart of the nation, and I want my life to be dedicated to His way."


Every summer, the Queen of England celebrates her "official birthday" and it's celebrated by the "Trooping of the Colours."  Without going into detail, half of London is shut down, hundreds of thousands of people stream to the center of the city, where the Home Division marches past Her Majesty with all the pomp and grace expected by Her Majesty's Armed Forces.


Throughout the entire two hours, the focus is on the Queen.  Every detail throughout the entire celebration is dedicated to the Queen.  Everything must be perfect.  Even though she sees only a fraction of what is happening, the whole day is dedicated to her and must represent her fully.


On Rosh Hashana (along with the days preceding and following) we make Hashem King.  We celebrate His Kingship and we dedicate every aspect of our lives to His Kingship.  It's not a matter of adding an hour of learning or doing an extra chessed.  That's not Kingship.  Kingship is about making the King, King, and to dedicated our lives to that Kingship.


With that, I wish you all a wonderful Shabbos and a meaningful Rosh Hashanah.