Our Rosh HaShanah to-do list has many items on it but, unfortunately, 99 percent of us forget the most important thing of all. We make sure to buy special round challos, sweet delicious honey, apples, pomegranates, and a fish head. We purchase a new fruit for the second night plus make sure to have enough wine, grape juice, chicken, and meat. We polish our shoes, clean our kittel (for those who wear one), and dust off our machzorim. We arrange seats in the shul, get ready for Tashlich, and start humming our favorite Rosh HaShanah melodies. Yes, we will be ready for those great and awesome two days. The problem with everything I just listed is that – while important to do – they are all secondary to the main, most important task of all.
I have talked to thousands of Jews – good Jews who really try their best – but most of them fail to answer this basic question: What is our number one job on Rosh HaShanah? Hint: The answer has nothing to do with the shofar, t’shuvah, or listening to the chazan. Our task – above everything else – is to crown Hashem as King of the world!
One second here – I know what you’re thinking: “Little old, insignificant I am going to crown HaKadosh Baruch Hu as King? Who am I to do such a job? I can barely stay awake during the Rabbi’s speech – and now you want me to crown Hashem as King? Thanks for the nice compliment, but you really need to find somebody else. Who am I?”
Dearest friend, stop right there! Don’t ever say those words, “Who am I”! You are a Jew, hand-picked by Hashem over 99.9 percent of the world to be His child. You are part of the chosen people, with a special soul that gives you a direct connection to the Creator of the world, so stop with the false modesty. Yes, we are told to be humble and modest, but that applies only to our private lives. When dealing with our role as part of the nation of Israel, we are not allowed to be humble! We have a job to do and we accept the responsibility given to us.
Therefore, each one of us can and must declare that Hashem is King. We don’t need to be a prophet, a tzadik, or a talmid chacham. We don’t need to a rav or rebbetzin, or to learn Daf Yomi. All we need is one thing: to be a part of the Jewish Nation!
But now comes the hard part: How do we do it? How do we declare Hashem as King of the world? It’s easy to dip an apple in honey or listen to 100 shofar blasts, but how does a human being declare that Hashem is King? Believe it or not, it’s easier than you think.
You are a Jew, hand-picked by Hashem over 99.9 percent of the world to be His child
Our relationship with Hashem is truly unique. Yes, He is our King but we refer to Him as much more than that: He is “Avinu Malkeinu” – our Father, our King. Simply put, Hashem is not just our King; Hashem is also our Father! Do you realize what that means? Since Hashem is our King but also our Father, that makes every one of us a prince or princess! This is not just a nice sentence; it’s the 100 percent absolute truth! Every Jewish man is a prince and every Jewish woman is a princess, and understanding this is the key to fulfilling our task on Rosh HaShanah.
We all know what the “paparazzi” are. They run after famous people, snapping pictures of them in restaurants, at the gym, or even on vacation. Because of the paparazzi, these famous people need to always be on their best behavior, as an embarrassing picture can wind up on the Internet as well as on the front page of the morning paper. I often think about movie stars who can’t take their dog for a walk without 37 crazy photographers snapping away. However, the craziest ones of all, who didn’t become celebrities by choice, but were born into it are the Princes of England: Charles, William, Harry, and now even little George. These guys did not star in a movie or score the winning touchdown at the Super Bowl; they were born into royalty, and from very early on after birth, the world is interested in watching their every public move – and more if they could.
Do you know who is even a bigger prince than William and Harry? You, my fellow Jew! These young men are princes to flesh and blood, but every one of us is a prince or princess to the King of Kings; and if you think 1,000 cameras are watching them, you have no idea how many are watching us! Do you want to know why Israel is so often on the front pages of so many newspapers in the world? It’s because it is populated by millions of princes! Do you want to know why halachah mandates how a Jew is to dress, eat, and act in public? It is because he/she is the son/daughter of the King, and what is acceptable for the general population is not acceptable to one who is a prince or princess.
This is the attitude we must have because that is how to crown Hashem as King: by realizing that you are the prince! Once you realize it, you must then start to act as one – not with arrogance, but with honor, dignity, and a sense of responsibility that everything you say and do reflects on the King. We must do this as individuals, and we must certainly do this as a Nation. No more begging for acceptance in the UN – a nation of princes does not do that! No more deals with the enemy – a prince is strong because the King stands at his side! Finally, no more apologizing to the media – because we explain our actions to the King and only the King.
This is the attitude we must have, starting on Rosh HaShanah and throughout the year.
As we say in Musaf: “Hashem, the G-d of Israel, is King, and His Kingship rules over everything” (ArtScroll Machzor). What a privilege it is that we have been chosen to make that proclamation and teach it to the world. Let’s take our job – and ourselves – seriously. Shanah Tovah!
Shmuel Sackett is a product of Queens. Born in Middle Village, a graduate of YCQ and YHSQ, he served as Havurat Yisrael’s first youth director and was the founder of two NCSY chapters in Forest Hills. In 1990, Sackett made aliyah and is the co-founder of the Israeli political party “Zehut” (ZehutInterntional.com). He and his wife make their home in Herzliya Pituach and are blessed with six children and many grandchildren.