Rosh Hashanah 5776
September 12, 2015
In a departure from the talmudic explanation, the Netziv offers an interesting approach to the relationship between shofar blowing and shofarot in his “Harchev Davar” to Vayikra 23:24.
The Netziv claims that God’s judgment of the world on Rosh Hashanah operates on two levels: individual and national. First, the Almighty judges every person on earth individually. Additionally, He determines the outcome for that year of the ongoing struggle between Am Yisrael and the nations of the world.
On this second level, Am Yisrael stand trial as a nation, rather than as individuals.
The mitzva of shofar, as the Rambam eloquently describes in Hilkhot Teshuva, is meant to stir individuals to repentance; its purpose is to “wake up” those sunken in a slumber of iniquity and vanity and trigger a process of introspection. In this sense, the shofar serves on the individual plane, it involves the judgment of people as individuals.
The “malkhuyot, zikhronot ve-shofarot,” which focus on the unique relationship between Am Yisrael and God, operate on the national level. Here we beseech God to assist us in our struggles and save us from those who seek our destruction. In this capacity, the shofar serves less as a call to repentance and introspection than as a call to prayer. Indeed, trumpets were sounded as a call to prayer whenever Benei Yisrael would go to war (Bemidbar 10:9).
On the national level, we approach God as if we are preparing for battle against our foes and, with the shofar, we pray. This is the meaning behind “malkhuyot zikhronot ve-shofarot”- an appeal to God on the national level, asking Him to save Am Yisrael from those who wish to cause us harm.
The Netziv adds there herein lies the distinction between the two sets of teki’iot that we sound. Before mussaf, we blow the “individual” teki’ot; these are the blasts calling us to repent and improve. During mussaf, as an accompaniment to our prayer service, we again sound teki’ot, only here we approach God as a unified nation, as His people, appealing for His assistance in our struggle against those who wish to destroy us.
Wishing everyone a ketiva vachatima tovah, a happy, healthy, sweet year.
PS. For those who like statistics….
In a round-up ahead of the Rosh Hashanah holiday, the population authority in Israel recorded 40,636 deaths and 161,081 births. The birth rate was lower than last year’s, which stood at 176,230.
Muhammed was the most popular baby name for boys, followed by: Yosef, Eitan, Uri, Daniel, Ariel, Noam, David, Omar, and Itai.
Among baby girls, Tamar topped the list, then: Noa, Talia, Shira, Yael, Adele, Sarah, Miriam, Avigail, and Leanne.
According to the report, Israel welcomed 28,645 new immigrants since last Rosh Hashanah.
It said 58,512 Israelis got married in the past year, and 20,426 got divorced. Both rates were lower than the previous year, which saw 75,848 weddings and 23,419 divorces.