Our Job on Rosh Hashanah

D'var Torah by Rabbi Jay Spero


Our Job on Rosh Hashanah

Contact Rabbi Spero at 862-9546 or


“And you will return unto G-d and listen to his voice, according to everything that I commanded you today, you and your children, with all your heart and all your soul” (Deut. Ch.30 v.2).

This verse is referring to the commandment of teshuva—returning to G-d (although many people translate teshuva as repentance, such a translation is not quite accurate).

Within the framework of the Jewish calendar, there are special times for the Jewish people. The month which precedes the Jewish new year, Elul, followed by Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, is the time of year when we attempt to return to G-d .

The question we must first ask ourselves is the order of the calendar. Why do we celebrate the new year, then apologize for our sins? Would it not make more sense to first apologize for our sins, then enter the new year with a clean slate, ready to accept upon ourselves all sorts of new year’s resolutions?

When someone wants to make a resolution, he is in effect trying to start anew. In order for a person to do this, he must first understand why he needs a fresh start. That is what Rosh Hashanah is all about: why a person should follow the Torah, and why a person needs to have a relationship with G-d.

Our role on Rosh Hashanah is to crown G-d as King. G-d does not want his relationship with the Jewish people to be that of a despot; rather, He prefers that of a King. When we pray to G-d and praise Him, we are not doing it for Him, but rather for ourselves, in order for us to understand who G-d is. When we do so, it builds within us a desire to get close to Him.

This is an awesome responsibility we have, of “crowning” G-d. It puts the weight of success or failure for civilization upon us, which is exactly what it is meant to do.

5761 years ago, G-d created Adam and Eve so that through man’s positive use of free will he would be able to perfect the world. Every person has the potential within him to make a difference in the world. The first step in this process is developing a relationship with G-d and thus knowing how exactly this perfection of the world takes place. That is our job on Rosh Hashanah.  

Once we are such a level that we understand what our relationship with G-d is, then we are able to truly apologize for any which way we may have injured our relationship with Him. Next week we will discuss how this process continues on Yom Kippur. 


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