Kinder Torah - Rosh Hashanah

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Kinder Torah
For parents to share with
children at the Shabbos Table

Rosh Hashanah

Day In Court

Mr. Cohen, you look a little nervous.

I am nervous, Dovid. Next week I have to appear in Beis Din (court of Torah law).

Oy vey, that sounds serious.

Dovid, my whole income from the year, and the whole family’s health and welfare is riding on this court decision.

No wonder you are nervous, Mr. Cohen. This is serious business. Is there any way that I can help you?

Please pray for me.

Of course, Mr. Cohen. Hashem should bless you with success.


Rosh Hashanah is our "day in court". The prayers that we recite on that day describe the judgements that take place. "Who will live and who will die; who will rest and who will wander; who will live in harmony and who will be troubled; who will enjoy tranquility and who will suffer; who will become poor and who will become rich; who will be degraded and who will be exalted" (Mussaf prayer, Rosh Hashanah). Do you remember what happened last year? Who was born? Who passed away? Who became sick? Who became wealthy? Try to recall what happened to you this past year. All of these events were decided on Rosh Hashanah. So you see, these two days are very important. What can we do to receive a good judgment from Hashem this Rosh Hashanah?


"And so place fear (of You), Hashem our God, upon all of your works," (Amida prayers, Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur). We ask Hashem to grant us fear of Him. Why? What is the importance of being afraid? It must be important because it is a special request added to all of the Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur prayers. Rabbeinu Yonah zt"l explains in "Shaarei Tshuvah" (1:11) that the way to tshuva (correcting your mistakes) is to increase the fear of Hashem in your heart. How can we ask Hashem for help in this area? It seems to be impossible. Our sages tell us that He does not grant yiras shomayim (fear of Heaven). "Everything is from Heaven except for the fear of Heaven," (Berachos 33a). Rav Chaim Friedlander zt"l explains that we are asking for siyata dishmaya (Heavenly assistance). Ultimately, the first step must be ours. Hashem can only help us if we help ourselves. This prayer itself, the request for fear of Hashem, should help us realize that this is what we are lacking. That is the first step to attaining it. This yiras shomayim (fear of Heaven) will make us take more care when performing mitzvos. When a person knows the consequences of his mistakes, he will take great pains to do things correctly.


You are already on the right path! You already know that Hashem is making some very important decisions on Rosh Hashanah. These decisions will affect all of our lives. He wants everything to go well for us. For this to happen, we have to do our part. The first step is this prayer. Ask Hashem to help us always remember Him and His awesome power. If He is always on our minds, doing mitzvos becomes much easier.

One Band

"And may they all form a single band to do Your will with a perfect heart," (Amida prayers, Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur). This is the second step in preparation for receiving a good judgment on Rosh Hashanah. Rav Chaim Friedlander zt"l compares this "single band" to the "banding together" of the lulav on Succos. The lulav consists of four different and unique species, lulav (palm), hadassim (myrtle), aravos (willow), and esrog (citron). Yet they are bound together, each with its unique capabilities, to accomplish a common goal. So too, all the nations of the world will ban together for a singular purpose. What is that goal? "To do Your will with a perfect heart." Not only will our minds be united with a common sense of purpose, but even our hearts and our emotions will become one.

The Alter of Kelm zt"l explains that every individual should be apprehensive about the judgment he will receive on Rosh Hashanah. The Jewish people as a nation, however, will be judged favorably. Therefore, if an individual is connected to the leaders of the nation, or if he is working for the welfare of the nation, he will receive the same favorable judgment that the nation receives. Those who teach Torah or care for the needs of the poor and other needy people are key members of the community. They will be judged with the community, and not just on their own merits.


The ideas of unity and working for the community are connected. When you give to others by helping them out, you strengthen the bond between you and them. If a person helps two people each day, that is fourteen people a week, sixty people a month, 730 people a year! Someone who helps 730 people is an indispensable person! He will certainly receive a good judgment on Rosh Hashanah. Look at how many people are depending upon him! The same holds true of those who teach Torah and distribute charity. Let us do what we can now to help others. And let us set a goal for ourselves as we grow older to always try to teach and help as many people as we can. May we all merit to be written and sealed in the Book of Life for a good year.

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