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Our Greatest Merit to Succeed on Rosh HaShanah

The Pesikta Rabbasi says that when Avraham was instructed by Hashem to slaughter his son on Rosh HaShanah, Avraham could have questioned Him, saying that He had previously promised that Yitzchak would be a great nation, so how could He now be telling Avraham to slaughter his son!? Yet, Avraham did not respond to Hashem’s instruction and attempted to carry it our wholeheartedly. The Pesikta Rabbasi says that at this point, Avraham told Hashem that he remained as if he was a deaf mute — not responding to his questioning thoughts despite knowing that his arguments were correct. In the same way, said Avraham, when Yitzchak’s children — the Jewish Nation — are judged before You on this day, even when there are many questioning angels demanding a harsh judgement, make Yourself like I did and do not respond to their claims.[1]

There is no question that the Jewish People’s survival rests on the merits of our forefathers who established an everlasting bond and relationship with Hashem; yet, we see from here that the response that we can expect to receive from Hashem is based on how we act when facing challenges.[2]

Specifically, the Chofetz Chaim writes that the greatest merit we can have on Rosh HaShanah is to judge other people favorably. For, when we look favorably at others — even in the most trying circumstances, Hashem will act this way towards us, and even our greatest misdeeds will be considered in a forgiving light. Whereas if we generally look negatively at others and judge them unfavorably, then even our greatest mitzvos will be heavily scrutinized by the Heavenly Court, leaving little room for merit.[3]

Rosh HaShanah is the time to refocus our vision and bring Hashem into our lives. We determine our standing on this day and not as a result of our previous actions.[4] Therefore, however we have previously acted, if we determine to look positively at others from now on, then Hashem will surely look favorably upon us.

Wishing you all a kasiva v’chasima tova

Moishe Kormornick

 

[1] Parashah 40.

[2] See Sotah 8b.

[3] Sefer Shmiras Halashon, vol.1 Shaar Hatevunah, ch.4.

[4] Rosh HaShanah 16b.