Without a doubt, the highlight of Rosh HaShanah - termed by our Sages, "the mitzvah
of the day" - is sounding and hearing the blasts of the shofar
The Baal Shem Tov offers a parable in which he likens the sounding of shofar to a child who finds himself in peril and screams out to his father, "Father, Father, save me!"
The Previous Rebbe once related in the names of earlier Rebbeim that one of the Rebbeim let it be known that the scream itself is even more important than the words "Father, Father, save me!" Of the two aspects-the scream itself and the content of the scream-what is most important is not the substance and content of the cry, but the very cry itself.
The substance and content of the cry differs from one Jew to the next. However, each and every Jew equally possesses the ability to shout out to his Father. Indeed, every Jew does in fact scream out to G-d. It may be so inward a shout that it is impossible to discern, but every Jew shouts out to his Father in Heaven from the innermost core of his soul.
This, then, lies at the heart of sounding and hearing the shofar on Rosh HaShanah - shouting out to G-d from the quintessence of one's soul. Such a call is most assuredly accepted on high.
There is an additional parable offered by Rabbi Levi Yitzchak of Berditchev that helps us better comprehend our certainty that G-d categorically and unconditionally accepts our shofar cry.
There once was a child who desired an apple, which his father was reluctant to provide. The child quickly made the appropriate blessing over the apple and as such, the father was forced to give the child the apple, as he did not desire that his child recite a blessing in vain.
We see in the analogue as well that even in an instance where the Father does not necessarily desire to act in a kind and benevolent manner owing to the past misconduct of His child, the Father will still fulfill His child's desire once His child has made the appropriate blessing (i.e., the appropriate cry and gesture).
How much more so is this the case when the Father's reluctance to grant His child's request stems only from His desire to test the child's cleverness. In such an instance, when the child proves his cleverness by reciting the appropriate blessing, the Father surely grants his request.
G-d surely desires to provide us with all manner of good. In fact, G-d's desire to endow us with all manner of good is even greater than our desire to receive this goodness. This is in keeping with the saying of our Sages, of blessed memory: "More than the calf desires to suckle [and receive milk], the cow desires to nurse [and give milk]."
G-d not only desires to provide us with all our needs, but He also desires that we serve Him. This is expressed in the verse, "You long for the actions of Your creations." That is to say, G-d is desirous of our spiritual service.
Therefore, when the Jewish people recite the blessing, "He mercifully hears the shofar blasts of His nation Israel," this assures that G-d most certainly receives our cries with great mercy. This is especially so since, according to Jewish law, one does not make a blessing when one is in doubt as to whether that blessing is to be recited.
The very fact that the Men of the Great Assembly ruled that we are to recite this blessing over the shofar serves as the clearest indication and the most obvious proof that our cry of the shofar is heeded by G-d in a merciful manner.
This results in G-d granting each and every Jew all that G-d deems they are in need of, both spiritually and materially, with regard to all matters of children, life and sustenance. Since G-d grants us His bounty from His "full, open, holy and generous hand," He surely grants us all this in a most abundant and plenteous manner.
All the above blessings are included in the blessings that we wish one another for the new year, namely, that we be granted a "good and sweet year." Moreover, these blessings find expression in our receiving them in a very real and concrete manner, in a manner of palpable and revealed goodness.
From the above two parables it is clear that Rosh HaShanah contains two distinct aspects that merge into one whole: the point of Rosh HaShanah from the perspective of the Jewish people - corresponding to the parable of the Baal Shem Tov of the child who cries out to his father; and the crux of Rosh HaShanah from G-d's perspective - corresponding to the parable of Rabbi Levi Yitzchak of Berditchev of the father who fulfills his child's request once he has made the appropriate blessing.
From the perspective of the Jewish people, Rosh HaShanah is the time when a Jew binds himself completely to G-d, accepting Him as his sovereign and Father-King, and crying out to Him from the very depths of his heart.
On His part, G-d obliges Himself, as it were, to the Jewish people, obligating Himself to provide us with all His abundant blessings - "I will provide you with your rains at their appointed times," and all the other blessings mentioned there - so that we may all truly enjoy a "good and sweet year."
Based on Likkutei Sichos, Vol. II, pp. 405-407.
- (Back to text) Mishnah, Rosh HaShanah 26b.
- (Back to text) Quoted in Hemshech VeKachah 5637, ch. 70.
- (Back to text) See Sefer HaMaamarim Kuntreisim, Vol. II, p. 642.
- (Back to text) Pesachim 112a.
- (Back to text) Iyov 14:15.
- (Back to text) Shulchan Aruch Admur HaZakein, 184:1. See also Iggeres HaTeshuvah, ch. 11.
- (Back to text) Text of Grace After Meals.
- (Back to text) Devarim 31:26.