Rosh Hashana is almost here! I even saw it on my Staples desk calendar. Only
someone living in a cave does not know that something is about to happen!
What is it that’s about to happen? Yeah! Rosh Hashana! But what happens on
Rosh Hashana? Ahhhh! That’s the rub!
Years back I was consumed with preparing a Bar Mitzvah for one my sons who
was born very close to Rosh Hashana. A question occurred to me that I was
able to relate briefly at the Bar Mitzvah celebration. So much time goes
into preparing for such an event. Days and weeks and months of planning and
invitations and clothing shopping, and it’s all for one night or a Shabbos
Kiddush and then it’s all over!
Why should all those other days, the ones that were employed in the service
of the great event, be considered like pawns in the service of the king? Why
is this night or day different than all the other days? Why sacrifice a
hundred days for the bettering of one day? That’s the question!
The same point applies equally to Rosh Hashana. Why should so many other
days be considered subservient to this one granddaddy day? What makes it so
special! The answer may just be found woven into the following story.
I believe it was Reb Chaim Shmuelevitz ztl. who related in a Rosh HaShana
“schmooze” the following scenario: Chaim Yankel was walking in the bitter
cold of winter and he stepped into a puddle. As a result he caught a
terrible cold. His cold soon turned into a pneumonia. After a while his
respiratory problems complicated and then unfortunately Chaim Yankel passed
Everyone was sad and when his close friends and family were asked, “What
happened to Chaim Yankel?” the story was always the same, “He was walking in
the cold of winter and he stepped into a puddle etc” Reb Chaim bellowed,
“No!” Chaim Yankel did not catch a cold in winter! He caught a cold in
Musaf on Rosh Hashana! It was then his spirit cooled off!”
What is the instructive point of this very forceful story? Is it only to
scare or throttle us into submission? No! Of course not! The great Rabbi had
a fine point he wanted to transmit. What is that point?
Rosh HaShana is not just another day like other days in the Jewish calendar
and I believe we all intuitively understand that very well. Rosh HaShana is
the “head” as the name implies. Everything is in the head! It is the source
and fount of life. The whole year flows from Rosh Hashana. It is the DNA ,
the blueprint for the entire year!
The whole year is produced from that day! For that reason we are careful to
dip apples in honey and find whatever positive signs to grasp onto to create
a positive template. Our blood type for the entire year needs to be
“B-Positive”. Whenever a child declares at mealtime, “This doesn’t taste
good!” I remind them to be positive! Of course they answer, “I’m positive it
doesn’t taste good!” That’s not what I had in mind.
So it goes for the Bar Mitzvah boy on his special day and the bride and
groom too. It’s not just another day like others. His whole life is
impacted by the quality of commitment on that first of all days. Rosh
Hashana is not special because it’s the first day but rather because it’s
the whole year!