THE KING AND I
On Rosh Hashanah we crown Hashem and declare His kingship. Certainly our coronation does not mark the beginning of Hashem's kingship; nor did any of our coronations in years past. Even the very first day of the completion of creation - the original Rosh Hashanah - was not the start of Hashem's kingship.
On Rosh Hashanah we crown Hashem and declare His kingship. Certainly our coronation does not mark the beginning of Hashem's kingship; nor did any of our coronations in years past. Even the very first day of the completion of creation - the original Rosh Hashanah - was not the start of Hashem's kingship. As we recite in the adon olam prayer every day, we proclaim, "Master of the world who reigned as King before any creation was created." This teaches us that Hashem is inherently King. On the other side of the spectrum, no human is inherently a king. Without a nation to rule over, he has no kingship. A man can try to get a nation to accept him as its king, but if he doesn't succeed then he is not a king. Hashem, on the other hand, has the ability to create, ex nihilo, a nation who will accept His divinity. Therefore, He inherently has the attribute of kingship.
However, something did happen on the very first Rosh Hashanah; as the adon olam prayer continues, "at the time that He brought everything into being, with His will, then He was called King." When the creation was completed, Hashem not only was King as He had been, but was now also "called King" by the world's inhabitants. There was now an entire creation, an entire universe to proclaim His kingship! When commemorating the creation of the world, it is worthwhile to focus on exactly what the purpose of the creation was.
Ethics of Our Fathers states: "All that the holy One, blessed be He, created in His world was created solely for His kavod" (6:11). To fully comprehend this statement we must understand what "kavod" means. The Torah writes that the special garments of the Kohanim (priests) are to be made "l'kavod ul'tifaret - for honor and glory." A Kohen (priest) looks like any other person, yet he is inherently different. The special clothes of the Kohen express his uniqueness. Kavod is the revealing of that which is there, but not readily seen. Therefore, the statement in Ethics of Our Fathers is teaching us that the sole purpose for everything in creation is to reveal Hashem. The mighty alps, the great coral reefs, the monstrous volcanoes are all to reveal the glory of their Creator. Even the tiniest ant and mosquito allow us to recognize G-d's presence.
The Midrash Tanchuma, a 4th century Aggadic commentary to the Bible, explains that even if all the people of the world got together, they still wouldn't be able to create a mosquito and replicate G-d's marvelous creatures. Throughout Psalms, King David beautifully describes, time and again, the critical role of nature: "The sky tells the honor of Hashem and the firmament tells of His handiwork. . .the voice of Hashem is in might. . .the voice of Hashem is in beauty. . .how many are Your creations, Hashem, You have made them all with wisdom, the land is filled with Your acquisitions."
Every flower, every cloud, every beam of sunlight reminds us of Hashem's presence. Our very own bodies are wondrous creations! We attest to this each time we use the facilities and then make the blessing which thanks G-d for allowing the human body to survive in its natural state. Like all else in creation we only exist by Hashem's will. All of nature perfectly follows this will. The grass grows, the birds chirp, and the tide pulls at sea in total accordance with Hashem's Divine will. We refer to this idea in the Shabbat morning prayers in the section of kel adon where we say that the sun and moon are, "glad as they go forth and exultant as they return, they do with awe their Creator's will. Splendor and glory they bestow upon His name, jubilation and glad song upon the mention of His reign."
Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch, a 19th century leader of German Jewry, comments that only Man, who has his own free will, has the ability to defy Hashem's will. When Man submits himself to the will of Hashem, he too is fulfilling the purpose of creation, of calling out the name of Hashem. As we state in the blessing recited after using the facilities, we are not only here to "survive," but also to "stand before You." The entire creation that surrounds each person reminds him of Hashem's omnipresence. When a person becomes aware that Hashem is truly everywhere, then he realizes that he is - day in and day out - standing in Hashem's presence! With such a realization, a person will certainly follow Hashem's will.
On Rosh Hashanah, when Hashem judges the world, we proclaim that Hashem is King of all creation, ourselves included. We realize that we are standing before Him and that our mission is to fulfill His will, and we long for the day that the entire creation will realize this as well; for on that day the world will fully complete the purpose of creation.
The ideas in this article were gleaned from Rabbi Elchonon Fishman of Yeshivas Toras Moshe.
Avi Lowenstein, who hails from Atlanta, is studying in Yeshivas Toras Moshe in Israel.
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